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It turns out the future doesn't really care about space travel.
April 3, 2011 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Cory Doctorow's new science fiction story collection, With A Little Help, is available in text and audio. The stories range from an order of datamining monks to Google gone terrible wrong, and the readers include Neil Gaiman, Mur Lafferty, Mary Robinette Kowal and Wil Wheaton. The introduction is written by Jonathan Coulton.
posted by NoraReed (97 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Both links point to the audiobook.

About the book itself.

E-book downloads.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:41 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, oops! Mods, could you fix that? I'm a ditz.
posted by NoraReed at 10:44 AM on April 3, 2011


Cory who then?
posted by found missing at 10:49 AM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cool stuff, thanks NR :)
posted by doctor_negative at 10:49 AM on April 3, 2011


Cheers!

I've not really got on with any of the novel length stuff he's done since Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, but his short stories are always interesting - I really liked After the Seige in the last collection.
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on April 3, 2011


On the other hand, if you want to read science fiction that's actually good, Iain M. Banks's Consider Phlebas is currently 99 cents for Amazon's Kindle or Barnes & Noble's Nook.
posted by orthogonality at 11:07 AM on April 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


Cory's written a book?!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:12 AM on April 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


I didn't get all the Cory hate until I attempted to read a couple of his books.
posted by DU at 11:15 AM on April 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


Cory's written a book?!

I know, it's amazing he finds the time... On the other hand we haven't heard much from the Cory Doctrow Media Persona lately so maybe this what he's been doing.

I didn't get all the Cory hate until I attempted to read a couple of his books.

Like I say, I don't think much of the novels bar Down and Out, but that one is very good, and he's done some great short stories.
posted by Artw at 11:20 AM on April 3, 2011


Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was definitely a not-great novel, which is odd because everyone on BoingBoing seemed to looove it.
posted by chasing at 11:22 AM on April 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Nt ll f thm.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:39 AM on April 3, 2011 [21 favorites]


It's a lazy Sunday, my cat's sleeping next to me, I'm drinking pu-erh, and favoriting Cory hate. Life is good.
posted by orthogonality at 11:44 AM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


The only thing I've read of his is this short story i, robot which I was determined not to like but was actually pretty good.
posted by euphorb at 11:45 AM on April 3, 2011


(I don't hate Cory in the slightest. But when someone hands you a straight line like that...)
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:54 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


In all seriousness, I'm just jake with Cory being promoted on this site, because he has so few avenues for self-promotion.
posted by found missing at 12:00 PM on April 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


The most annoying thing about the book is that I haven't been able to find a review of the text itsel. I've seen plenty of reviews of the special edition itself, the packaging etc. But nothing of the content.

Looking over the titles, I have read Scroogled, and as I remember it, it was a cautionary tale with all the subtlety of a no knock police warrant.
posted by zabuni at 12:02 PM on April 3, 2011


When the main reaction to a Metafilter post about Cory Doctorow after a full 90 minutes appears to mainly be mass indifference, the end of the story appears to be (thankfully) very close.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:10 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Paying attention to Cory Doctorow would only make him stronger.
posted by LogicalDash at 12:11 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmmm. Four pages in and it already has that "Cory Doctorow Is $ADJECTIVE Cory Doctorow in Cory Doctorow's $BOOK_BY_CORY_DOCTOROW" vibe to it that really saturates his longer work.

Have you ever had the sense that, say, Yngwie Malmsteen is a fantastic guitar player but a crappy musician? In that vein, I feel like Doctorow is a pretty good writer, but not much of an author, if you see what I mean.
posted by mhoye at 12:12 PM on April 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


I see huge files on a server than appears to run on coal*...

*coal, steampunk geddit!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:18 PM on April 3, 2011


I still don't understand the people who weep bitter tears of rage into their pillows every night at the thought that somebody somewhere has a good opinion of Cory Doctorow. Him I don't much care about either way -- I'd put him somewhere above average for the population as a whole in terms of having interesting things to say, but not so much that I ever seek his writing out -- I'm much more fascinated by how angry he makes people, because it's just so fantastically, almost dementedly disproportionate to anything that he's actually done, as far as I know.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:22 PM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


He ran over my dog.
posted by found missing at 12:23 PM on April 3, 2011


He shot my cat.
posted by tomswift at 12:25 PM on April 3, 2011


He feeds on our anger and hate... like Galaticus
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:26 PM on April 3, 2011


He stole my car and ran over someone's dog.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:26 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


but not so much that I ever seek his writing out -- I'm much more fascinated by how angry he makes people,

I too wondered about that until I looked up the definition of 'hypocrisy' in the new Merriam Webster's and there was Cory's photo under a subcategory of 'self-important.'
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:30 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


He took our jerbs
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:31 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't been able to find a review of the text itsel. I've seen plenty of reviews of the special edition itself, the packaging etc. But nothing of the content.

That should tell you something. You can do so many things with Cory's books. Reading them, not so high on the list.
posted by orthogonality at 12:36 PM on April 3, 2011


I think he's cute.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:37 PM on April 3, 2011


This thread is a thing I don't understand. I read "Little Brother." It was decent YA, if a bit polemical. I've read some of his op-ed type stuff about copyright and whatnot, which seemed to me to be coming from a good place. I swing by BoingBoing from time to time and find it generally enjoyable.

People detest City Doctorow? I guess I need to get out more.
posted by eugenen at 12:40 PM on April 3, 2011


I still don't understand the people who weep bitter tears of rage into their pillows every night at the thought that somebody somewhere has a good opinion of Cory Doctorow.

I think it's because Doctorow is a successful writer despite is writing, rather than because of it. It's hardly worth an evening of bitter tears, but there are much better writers in the world faring much worse, both in terms of name recognition and, relatedly, financial success. A relatively minor injustice, I suppose, but it irks a little.
posted by mhoye at 12:43 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, there is a feeling of knowing how to play the zeitgeist as opposed to being especially good, I'll grant you that. But that's a phenomenon as old as popular culture itself; there have always been people like that.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:45 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


What irks people is that he has all the trappings of successful authorship -- publicity, a recognized name, lots of published books with cool covers. Then you read them, and they're awful. He starts with a point or lesson he wants to hammer you over the head with, then he constructs a story with flat characters, wooden dialogue, ridiculously unsubtle plots and amateurish pacing and wildly overdone cardboard characteization as stand-ins for whatever ideological battle he's valiantly fighting or technological tempest in a teapot for which he wants this book to serve as an allegory.

I've never actually read one of his books, but I'm pretty sure I'm right.
posted by jayder at 12:56 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sometimes you can find out quite a lot about an author's writing process by reading their work. I've read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and Little Brother, and both books seem to have started not as stories but as collections of things Cory Doctorow finds cool and/or important. The story itself was grafted on as an afterthought. It can be hard to read at times.

Little Brother showed some promise though, so if he learns some self-control he might still write something really good.
posted by skymt at 12:57 PM on April 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


He starts with a point or lesson he wants to hammer you over the head with, then he constructs a story with flat characters, wooden dialogue, ridiculously unsubtle plots and amateurish pacing and wildly overdone cardboard characteization as stand-ins for whatever ideological battle he's valiantly fighting or technological tempest in a teapot for which he wants this book to serve as an allegory.

Wait, when did this thread become about Ayn Rand?
posted by oulipian at 1:02 PM on April 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


People detest City Doctorow? I guess I need to get out more.

I don't begrudge Doctorow his success, and a lot of the things that he talks about -- open data standards, the elimination of DRM, and a DIY approach to technology -- are great things. Which I find troubling is that he vigorously demonizes those who don't want the same things that he does. His startling, visceral hate-on for anyone who would voluntarily use an iPad was unbecoming. His insistence that every other artist's financial model should look like his (build an audience of nerds on the Internet and give them free books until they pay you for other things) is well-intentioned but naive.

For better or worse, Cory Doctorow is Richard Stallman Lite: someone who's advocated some good things, but demonstrates such a monofocus on his pet topics that he's a walking cliche. Other days, I think he might be the Camile Paglia of digital culture: someone whose career is primarily defined by conversations about how he was the first to talk about [x].
posted by verb at 1:03 PM on April 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


If you guys want to emit hate, there's a perfectly good Henry Kissenger thread just below this one.

Not sure why the tremendous hate for someone like Doctorow, who's a decent-seeming human being who writes about subjects that are of interest to Metafilter with at least competence (compare his prose to, say, Dan Brown's). I only read one of his books, which was good enough at least for me to finish (I don't finish a lot of what I start due to wretchedness of prose), but, gee, he's basically on our team, you can critique his writing without such wrath, surely?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:05 PM on April 3, 2011


"he's basically on our team..."

So, now this is about his sexual orientation?? I think that's irrelevant!

/ what team are we on today????
posted by tomswift at 1:07 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


What irks people is that he has all the trappings of successful authorship -- publicity, a recognized name, lots of published books with cool covers.

It's worth remembering that Doctorow is a true believer in "free culture." All of his work is available for free, and others can remix, republish, and repurpose it. He makes his money on the edges -- selling collectors' editions of his work to the die hard fans, sales of print copies for those who don't feel like downloading them, speaking engagements, editing anthologies, and assorted other stuff. He advocates this model for pretty much every kind of artistic production out there.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who are able to be successful with that sort of model are not necessarily good writers or artists. They are good promoters, good social networkers, and good nuturers-of-fan-communities. Those are valuable skills, to be sure, and they make for engaged and satisfied fans. Just keep in mind that the books themselves are a sort of branding mechanism, a set of signifiers, more than they are products to be marketed and enjoyed on their own merits.
posted by verb at 1:09 PM on April 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Then you read them, and they're awful

Everything jayder said, plus the protagonist is always recognizably Cory Doctorow. A sexy, in-demand, amazingly insightful and well-spoken Cory Doctorow.

Read his books is tantamount to being trapped inside someone else's narcissistic masturbatory fantasy.
posted by orthogonality at 1:10 PM on April 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I like Cory, enjoy his Boing Boing presence, agree with a lot of his ideas and ideals, and thought he was a very funny, clever, and personable convention guest. I just never really got that much into his fiction. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom has a really unlikeable protagonist who never comes to own his own bullshit, and Little Brother was better, but still not fantastic.

But then I read this collection, and honestly? I really liked it. There are some stories in here that I thought were really pretty great. If you didn't like his earlier stuff that much, but are willing to give him a second look, I think you might be pleasantly surprised.
posted by webmutant at 1:32 PM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've never found his books particularly gripping. He did an interview for the CBC or something once, though, and it was really a pleasure to listen to him talk about things he likes.

I think of it as the geek-culture version of "sure, I think it's great to bullshit about how Green Lantern could maybe beat up Aquaman at the counter at the comic shop every week, but I'd hate to read the comic that would result from that conversation being taken at face value."
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:15 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thank's for the press release!
posted by Dreamghost at 2:25 PM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess I would just prefer to see an author who didn't already have a huge self-promotional platform talked about in Metafilter. If I want to know what the BoingBoing crew has been up to, I'll go read BoingBoing.

Also: I wouldn't immediately assume his interests overlap with those of Metafilter any better than any of several thousand writers and artists. We're a pretty diverse crowd.
posted by chasing at 2:30 PM on April 3, 2011


tantamount to being trapped inside someone else's narcissistic masturbatory fantasy.

Interesting. Would you describe Dante's Inferno the same way?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 2:31 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I did quite like the zero-gravity sex scene in Dante's Inferno. To be totally honest.
posted by chasing at 2:32 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I read For the Win not too long ago. Interesting story, written in the style of someone who really, really wanted to get his points across, even if it meant interrupting any kind of story, for long, pedantically written, sections of exposition.
posted by Windopaene at 2:47 PM on April 3, 2011


All of his work is available for free, and others can remix, republish, and repurpose it.

One of the many annoying things about Doctorow is that he assumes that people would actually want to do this.

For example,

"It's just *stupid* to say that an elementary school classroom should have to talk to a lawyer at a giant global publisher before they put on a play based on one of my books."
posted by Ratio at 2:50 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, Boo! to Docotorow for working to improve consumer rights when the rights to his own works may not be immediately required!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:56 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"It's just *stupid* to say that an elementary school classroom should have to talk to a lawyer at a giant global publisher before they put on a play based on one of my books."
But they should consider talking to someone with some taste.

Personally, the whole boingboing unpublishing/disemvoweling critics scandal was kind of a turnoff. Not just the unpublishing but the fact they didn't own up to it, tried to silence anyone who complained and so on. Basically you have supposed anti-authoritarians suddenly acting in a very controlling way. Of course, it was their website and the stakes were low, but still. If you're going to advocate that people in power act in a certain way, then you should act that way with what little power you do have, to set a good example.

On the other hand, I think it's good that people are out there advocating free culture and so on.
posted by delmoi at 3:16 PM on April 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yes, Boo! to Docotorow for working to improve consumer rights when the rights to his own works may not be immediately required!

Wow—you're right! Millions of poor, oppressed consumers have been toiling for generations, under the heavy boot of giant global publishers, sustained only by the distant hope that one day, perhaps centuries from now, their children's children might be able to put on a play based on a collection of Cory Doctorow's blog postings.

O my brothers! Cory has led us to the promised land! Let us walk the green grass of freedom!
posted by Ratio at 3:17 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hate is a strong word, but I have to admit I’ve never read any of his books simply because he’s annoying. I kind of think of him like M. Night Shl;ljkasdfoiw. At least I thought I thought Cory Doctorow was annoying until I saw Mark Frueedhnanosor on some TV show. Jesus, it’s like they’re having an "Annoying and Pretentious" contest over there.
posted by bongo_x at 3:52 PM on April 3, 2011


It's worth remembering that Doctorow is a true believer in "free culture."

Seriously?


I mean seriously ???
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:08 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Boing Boing and Cory, in particular, make me want to puke. They talk a good game, but if you criticize a posting in the comments section, it will either magically disappear or be rendered unreadable though disemvowelment™.
posted by Bushmiller at 4:08 PM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


O my brothers! Cory has led us to the promised land! Let us walk the green grass of freedom!


Now, as a frequent Cory-snarker, I do think it's worth applauding the fact that he puts his money where his mouth is, and he's done so since he first started publishing. Like Mark Pilgrim, he walks the walk when it comes to free culture. His "no one should have to talk to lawyers before they do stuff with my work" stance is one that I can respect.

My big problem, as always, is that his relentless focus on the empowering light of Open Culture, on the amazing unshackled world of Publishing Without Gatekeepers, on the magic and delirious wonder of Soldering Your Own Furby To Read Project Gutenberg Files To You While You Sleep Under The Stars With Your Linux-Based Robot Companion... Sorry, where was I? Yes, that's right. He paints a picture of a really awesome world where folks who do creative work just somehow magically have enough to eat at the end of the day.

For those who didn't start out by building a massive fan base of steampunk nerds, and instead worked on becoming good writers, Cory's vision is essentially a return to a world where only the financially secure have the luxury of indulging in art. Sometimes he glosses over that, but occasionally -- in moments like his bile-filled rant about stupid potatoes who simply "consume" instead of hacking their computers -- it seems like he really detests people who don't share his excitement.

That's troubling, and it leaves me with a bit of an unpleasant taste when I see his combination of open-culture boosterism and his strange willingness to embrace the same organizations that vigorously defend closed-culture.

I read his stuff and sometimes enjoy it. I agree with other posters who said that his short stories hold up much better than his full-length work, and I'm always interested to see the issues that he champions. But I don't think it's a hate-on to be a little 'meh' about Doctorow's overall contributions to the culture's conversations about art, copyright, and so on.
posted by verb at 4:13 PM on April 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


Metafilter: I've never actually read one of his books, but I'm pretty sure I'm right.

MeFi 'hates' Cory for the same reason I 'hate' my brother or Sydney 'hates' Melbourne. It's sibling rivalry. A post with all the same people reading stories by Charles Stross would be favorited into oblivion, and he's not above writing about Sexy Space Bloggers.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:15 PM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's as may be Lovecraft, but my experience between the two is that Stross is a much stronger writer. I don't hate Doctorow, but the book I read was unusually bad and seemed untouched by editing. I suspect he garners much attention because of relentless self-promotion and canny marketing. Certainly, all of that could be applied to dozens of other writers, but thankfully I manage to avoid almost everything to do with those writers.

I don't resent him because of his success - though I'm sure some do - I resent him because people are reading his books when they could be reading well-written and terrific science fiction that would give the genre a good name, and because he's writing books that frankly don't seem particularly well-crafted or thought-out. He's a lazy writer, and there are so many hard-working ones; it doesn't seem fair.
posted by smoke at 4:26 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


For those who didn't start out by building a massive fan base of steampunk nerds, and instead worked on becoming good writers, Cory's vision is essentially a return to a world where only the financially secure have the luxury of indulging in art.

To be fair, this isn't just Cory's problem -- this is the crux of the entire problem with using the internet as a means of art distribution. Cory doesn't realize (I think) that he's advocating this because he's just not getting the position that BB has put him in...or, more to the point, he doesn't realize the position that BB hasn't put, like, everybody else in the world in. To my mind, the biggest problem facing the arts today is that the greatest means of getting one's work out there also strips most artists of any hope of ever seeing a profit from their work.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:29 PM on April 3, 2011


It's worth remembering that Doctorow is a true believer in "free culture."

Seriously?


Yes, seriously. I don't mean that he is above the kind of petty stuff that most blog administrators and forum moderators can get sucked into. I mean that he walks the walk of releasing everything that he creates under a permissive license that allows other people to copy, redistribute, translate, adapt, and build upon his work without obtaining his permission or paying him any royalties.

His writing, his idealism, his willingness to chum up with corporate interests if he happens to like their product-of-the-moment, his apparent disgust for people who don't WANT to be culture-jamming hardware hackers... all of that stuff is certainly fair game. But when it comes to the issue of copyright and being willing to put your work out there, yes. He is a true believer.
posted by verb at 4:31 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's as may be Lovecraft, but my experience between the two is that Stross is a much stronger writer.

Probably. No offense to Stross as a writer (i thought Space War Nerd in Iron Council was kinda cool). I haven't read much of Cory's stuff - just the first chapter of Magic Kingdom. but any other post with Neil Gaiman, Wil Wheaton, and Jonathan Coulton would be instantly loved... though those three aren't above trading on easy geek tropes and love, come to think of it. I did stop reading Boing Boing thanks to you guys.

One of the things I don't really like about geek/nerd culture is it can foster that sort of insular, love in feeling.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:39 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


It usually isn't too good of an idea to suggest that someone's strong dislike of a particular blogger, performer, writer etc. is based on envy formed around a kernel of I-could-do-that, but that certainly seems to be the case for at least some of Cory's (and BB's) critics. I mean, who wouldn't want to have a wildly successful and lucrative blog based almost entirely around their personal obsessions and concerns? The whole Violet Blue controversy, for example, had the odor of people finally getting to stick the knife in, and in particular the Gawker blogs had a field day with it, something I thought about recently when they had their own wave of comment deletions and bannings across the board after their much-disliked redesign.

As for Cory's writing, it is pretty uneven in terms of its quality and/or my particular interest in it, sometimes within the same story. I really liked Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town, for instance, but the subplot involving building a free wifi network in Toronto was mostly distracting; there's one section where a character is describing the difficulty of getting pay-as-you-go Swiss internet access that was taken almost untouched from one of Cory's BB posts. Little Brother hung together much better.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:48 PM on April 3, 2011


I really liked Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town.
posted by lyam at 5:02 PM on April 3, 2011


I thought For the Win was an extremely engaging thought experiment about the future of online gaming.

Are there better writers that Doctorow? Sure. His concept stories are written for the times, and will date quickly. But I got some momentary enjoyment out of them.


One of the many annoying things about Doctorow is that he assumes that people would actually want to do this.


People HAVE done it. There are numerous translations, there's a graphic novel adaption of some of the shorts... Just because you don't want to do something, doesn't mean that no one else does. In any case, given the breadth and variety of remix culture, it's not particularly arrogant. Ten years ago, would you have thought anyone would want to repurpose Rick Astley songs? People repurpose bad stuff into cool stuff all the time. All Doctorow is doing is giving people the option, because he thinks everyone should give everyone that option.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:20 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


being trapped inside someone else's narcissistic masturbatory fantasy

Geez, ya'll! I think that sounds like a fantastic premise for a book. Now I want to read it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:25 PM on April 3, 2011


Wait - it's not really about that? Never mind.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:26 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The handful of songs I've heard from Coulton's new album are fairly far from coasting on geek tropes and adoration. Just throwing that out there.

(I particularly recommend "Now I Am an Arsonist," the record version of which is a duet with Suzanne Vega. Because, you know, if he was going to coast on geek tropes, Suzanne Vega would be the first person he would call.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:49 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


All Doctorow is doing is giving people the option, because he thinks everyone should give everyone that option.

doesn't Stephen King have some clause that you can adapt any of his short stories for a dollar? or is that an urban myth?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:49 PM on April 3, 2011


Christ on a pogo stick, I don't think a Metafilter post involving Neil Gaiman, Wil Wheaton and Jonathan Coulton would draw this much ire if it they were working with an Eldrich abomination with the heads of Roger Ebert and Stephanie Meyer sewn onto it.

You are allowed to skip links you aren't interested in. I promise there's no hidden "never skipped a thread" achievement.
posted by NoraReed at 7:26 PM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


You are allowed to skip links you aren't interested in. I promise there's no hidden "never skipped a thread" achievement.

There is too. It's just none of us have ever seen it.
posted by Samizdata at 7:29 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Christ on a pogo stick, I don't think a Metafilter post involving Neil Gaiman, Wil Wheaton and Jonathan Coulton would draw this much ire

It's not Ire so much as mockery, I think.
posted by delmoi at 7:32 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and Malcolm Gladwell. On that Eldrich abomination.
posted by NoraReed at 7:36 PM on April 3, 2011


Would you describe Dante's Inferno the same way?

Funnily enough, I've read Inferno several times, in a couple of translatioons, and really like it. (I think I like Purgatorio a little better though.)

The difference is that the Dante character, while based on Dante the author, isn't made out to be some really kick-ass dude. He's made out to be a confused sinner, like the rest of us.
posted by orthogonality at 7:51 PM on April 3, 2011


doesn't Stephen King have some clause that you can adapt any of his short stories for a dollar? or is that an urban myth?

The Dollar Babies.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:56 PM on April 3, 2011


A post with all the same people reading stories by Charles Stross would be favorited into oblivion

I've bought a lot of Stross books, and I've never failed to get my money's worth. I spend the nine bucks for a paperback, I get three or four solid hours of entertainment. Even the over-serialized, somewhat melodramatic Merchant Princes books are a fun guilty read, and I'm looking forward to reading the conclusion as figure out if I next need to read book 4 or book 5.

Doctorow, I spend nothing for his books, and I get my money's worth, too: after a couple of hours trying hard to like what I'm reading -- it's free, it's a polemic for an ideology I'm in sympathy with --, putting it down, picking it back up, I give up, and realize I've also given up hours of my life I'll never get back.

There's no comparison, because Charlie Stross knows how to tell stories about interesting situations and characters you care about, and Cory Doctorow only knows how to tell stories about -- the bombastic, boring, insufferable Cory Doctorow.
posted by orthogonality at 8:07 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


You are allowed to skip links you aren't interested in.

Don't take this as criticism of you. I'm glad you made the post, because it tickles me to slag Cory and to see Cory slagged. Good post!
posted by orthogonality at 8:11 PM on April 3, 2011


Wow. I just don't get the hate.

I dig some of Cory's stuff, don't dig other of his stuff. Boing Boing posts some cool stuff and some lousy stuff.

I thought Little Brother was great, I had trouble with Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom.

He's self-promoting, sure, but he's an author who releases his writing for free and still manages to make a living. If self-promotion is the price, I have a hard time holding that against him.
posted by Myca at 8:39 PM on April 3, 2011


doesn't Stephen King have some clause that you can adapt any of his short stories for a dollar? or is that an urban myth?

The Dollar Babies.


wow, thanks. this is going to make Lovecraft Bro happy. might work on a post with some of those movies after i'm done with my other big short horror post
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:57 PM on April 3, 2011


Probably. No offense to Stross as a writer (i thought Space War Nerd in Iron Council was kinda cool). I haven't read much of Cory's stuff - just the first chapter of Magic Kingdom. but any other post with Neil Gaiman, Wil Wheaton, and Jonathan Coulton would be instantly loved... though those three aren't above trading on easy geek tropes and love, come to think of it. I did stop reading Boing Boing thanks to you guys.

Iron Sunrise. not Iron Council. sorry, ctross. and cmieville.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:20 PM on April 3, 2011


The difference is that the Dante character, while based on Dante the author, isn't made out to be some really kick-ass dude. He's made out to be a confused sinner, like the rest of us.

Clearly you haven't seen the latest adaptation.
posted by verb at 9:26 PM on April 3, 2011


nah the Divine Comedy is kinda self-indulgent fanficition. in Purgatorio and Paradiso some of Dante's idols praise his skill and his family. it would be like Cory writing a book where Ray Bradbury and George Orwell told him how awesome he was. and the whole thing is spurred on by a girl Dante couldn't even talk to without fainting. i love it, but it's fanfic
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:39 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always been kind of dismissive of the whole Cory Doctorow cyberpunk blogging xkcd portrays me with goggles and a red cape I can take a joke here's me in such a get-up I don't do drugs I like chocolate so much here's an Italian chocalatier to die for thing, but I really enjoyed For the Win. Even if "Wei-Dong" Goldberg, the most annoying and superfluous character, was probably supposed to be Young Cory Doctorow.
posted by Gnatcho at 10:01 PM on April 3, 2011


It's worth remembering that Doctorow is a true believer in "free culture." All of his work is available for free, and others can remix, republish, and repurpose it.

hmmm...did you just volunteer to publish the vowel-free edition?
posted by sexyrobot at 1:04 AM on April 4, 2011


also, he ran over my dog. with a lawnmower.
posted by sexyrobot at 1:05 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


My enjoyment of Cory Doctorow stories and the few bucks I've given him in no way detract from my enjoyment of other authors. I don't like every opinion he holds (or screams from on high). But I also think Heinlein held some weird ones, and Niven and Pournelle's politics frighten me... but I really enjoyed some of their stories.

Not everyone needs to be a shining beacon of purity and enlightenment. And personally, I enjoy life more when I'm not constantly judging every tiny bit of a person based upon their inadequate whole.
posted by DigDoug at 4:45 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw Doctorow and China Mieville speak in London last year, both reading from their books. I'd read a few things by Doctorow, although I'd never been impressed with his novels, and thought he did a pretty good reading... until Mieville opened his mouth. His reading (from Kraken) was so far beyond Doctorow's work that I felt a little embarrassed for Cory. I think he'll be ok though.
posted by The River Ivel at 4:46 AM on April 4, 2011


I'm not that impressed with Mieville either, but I get further into his books before I give up.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:21 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's no comparison, because Charlie Stross knows how to tell stories about interesting situations and characters you care about, and Cory Doctorow only knows how to tell stories about -- the bombastic, boring, insufferable Cory Doctorow.

I generally agree. Which led to some real cognitive dissonance when I read the Stross/Doctorow collaboration in Wireless.

That said, I read Doctorow's short story To Go Boldly recently, and thought that was excellent - a novel look at certain social implications of technological developments. (Perhaps not coincidental that it's neither didactic nor features a protagonist who's anything like CD).
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:13 AM on April 4, 2011


Oh great, not only is Cory in the Guardian the've got Xenu too now...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:31 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now there's a person you can legitimately dislike without fear of finding and redeeming features.
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I note that Stross's Laundryverse novels, mostly the earlier ones, are pretty much "Stross himself takes on a very specific concern in ways that Stross himself would do."

I love them. Perhaps I just like Cthulhu better than I like, say, PGP key parties.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:26 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should be honest: I haven't read Stross's horror fiction.
posted by orthogonality at 11:47 AM on April 4, 2011


I still don't understand the people who weep bitter tears of rage into their pillows every night at the thought that somebody somewhere has a good opinion of Cory Doctorow.

I think the main issue is that that somebody is, in fact, Cory Doctorow.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:41 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still don't understand the people who weep bitter tears of rage into their pillows every night at the thought that somebody somewhere has a good bad opinion of Cory Doctorow.

And thus the internet rotates on.
posted by verb at 3:38 PM on April 4, 2011


I'm weeping bitter tears of rage over the horrible damage a mention of his name does to Metafilter's signal-to-noise ratio.
posted by Artw at 4:41 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm weeping bitter tears of rage over the horrible damage a mention of his name does to Metafilter's signal-to-noise ratio.
posted by Artw at 4:41 PM on April 4 [1 favorite +] [!]


It's really funny, the nearly unanimous scorn a mention of his name stirs up. In fact, I'd wager that whoever wrote this ever-so-deadpan FPP had a mischievous smirk on his or her face while pressing "post," knowing that it would be like waving a red cape in front of a bull.
posted by jayder at 8:16 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


jayder, I suspect NoraReed was sincere, but I wish you were right, as it makes a better story. See, another consideration that wouldn't occur to Cory.
posted by orthogonality at 11:13 PM on April 4, 2011


Wow, I wouldn't have thought you could ruin a story with a single word (actually, a two-word term), but Doctorow manages it with "Epoch."

SPOILERS!

So this is a pretty good story about an AI computer that doesn't want to die. Until the computer starts telling the protagonist that the reason it chooses to do certain things is because it's using "game theory." And then tells us again, and again, and again. And the protagonist starts thinking, "OMG, GAME THEORY!" every time the computer does something.

In fact, if you wanted to commit suicide, you could listen to this story and take a drink every time one of the characters says the words "game theory" in a way that seems to assume the reader is an idiot who can't remember Cory's clever, clever idea for more than a paragraph.

But the worst part, is how that one irritating phrase ruins the end of the story. The AI manages to successfully bargain for it's life and freedom by offering the world a useful software program. But then the protagonist discovers the programs has a malicious backdoor in it and is forced to kill (turn-off) the AI after all. At which point, the AI chastises the protagonist for not expecting this in the first place, "You have lousy game theory" the AI says. And the reader says, "WHAT?! You stupid computer! Your allegedly great game theory just got you killed, completely unnecessarily, and apparently the author of the book doesn't even understand the pretty thin concept he was hanging this story on."

Bleah.
posted by straight at 12:39 PM on April 11, 2011


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