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June 10, 2014 6:07 PM   Subscribe

"Why I'm sending 200 copies of Little Brother to a high-school in Pensacola, FL." [boing boing] "The principal of Booker T Washington High in Pensacola FL cancelled the school's One School/One Book summer reading program rather than letting all the kids go through with the previously approved assignment to read Little Brother, the bestselling young adult novel by Cory Doctorow. With Cory and Tor Books' help, the teachers are fighting back." [VIDEO RESPONSE]
posted by Fizz (61 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man I'm torn. On the one hand, that's some bullshit by the principal and good stuff from Cory and Tor. On the other hand I think LB is a bad book and shouldn't be assigned reading on that basis.
posted by Justinian at 6:20 PM on June 10 [25 favorites]


"I don't think this is a problem because my book is the greatest novel ever written and the kids will all miss out by not reading it, but because I think that the role of an educator is to encourage critical thinking and debate, and that this is a totally inappropriate way to address "controversial" material in schools...And I'm still doing that videoconference this fall, with as many students as want to read and talk about the book -- even (and especially) if they disagree with its message."

This is a good thing. A large part of frustration at my current and previous position was due to people unable to think critically.

Whatever shitstorm this principal thought they were avoiding by catering to what seems like a small number of parents...well, that plan didn't work out very well.
posted by sio42 at 6:21 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


What kind of monster would force children to read Corey Doctorow? All those trees, a whole forest died for this.
posted by humanfont at 6:21 PM on June 10 [29 favorites]


Whatever shitstorm this principal thought they were avoiding by catering to what seems like a small number of parents...well, that plan didn't work out very well.

You fool! That was all part of the plan.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:24 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


heh! :-)
posted by sio42 at 6:26 PM on June 10


Little Brother is perfect for a certain kind of kid and has a lot of DIY instructional stuff that's pretty accessible. I recommended it to a handful of my friends my first year of college and it worked perfectly to explain a lot of stuff to them that I didn't want to bother spelling out themselves, and some of them started experimenting with TOR (the router, not the publisher) and stuff. I know this site isn't a fan of Doctorow's writing on the whole, but some of his YA is pretty good for a certain group of readers, and there's certainly a lot worse out there, and since a lot of kids aren't raised with the knowledge of how a hacker ethos is supposed to work, it might not occur to them to, say, install software on their school computers to get around the constant surveillance and the like. LB is a pretty good intro to that sort of thing.
posted by NoraReed at 6:26 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


I thought these programs were supposed to encourage reading...
posted by entropicamericana at 6:29 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I thought LB was fine - I'd be willing to hear some actual criticism of it.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 6:51 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


I thought these programs were supposed to encourage reading...
You could argue that telling kids not to read something is a very good way to encourage reading.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:59 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Hating on Doctorow is an inside joke which I find progressively less funny as time goes by.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:00 PM on June 10 [44 favorites]


I think there are some legitimate complaints about Doctorow: some find him preachy, some really don't like the Encyclopedia Brown-style explanations he includes in his books. But a lot of authors do those things, and the Doctorow hate gets in the way of my attempt to replace Ender's Game with For The Win in the "sci-fi about a group of international kids cooperating to do something" category of books that is constantly handed to preteens and teenagers.
posted by NoraReed at 7:06 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Doctorow is a good writer. People hate him because he's so vocal and present, popular blog, etc. Intellectually lazy reasons, mostly.
posted by signal at 7:07 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Hating on Doctorow is an inside joke which I find progressively less funny as time goes by.

Let me tell you about the book where the protagonist was a series of nesting Russian dolls who developed municipal wifi.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:08 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Hating on Doctorow is an inside joke which I find progressively less funny as time goes by.

I in no way whatsoever hate Doctorow. He seems to have a passion for writing and many other things which I envy. I simply think his prose is not very good.
posted by Justinian at 7:09 PM on June 10 [12 favorites]


Having lived in (and given birth to my three children in) Pensacola back in the day, let's say I am not really surprised.

They can use all the free books they could get down there, if memory serves.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:20 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Oh, and here is their summer reading list. Guess what book is listed on 10th graders' summer reading?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:23 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Doctorow is.. Intellectually lazy

I Doctorowed you.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:24 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I have no opinion on Doctorow or is writing personally; but I'm wondering why that response video seems to have been shot in what appears to be a decommissioned missile silo?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:48 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


At some point in the near future Xeni Jardin will descend on Florida to un-publish all copies of Little Brother for reasons that will never be publicly explained. Those pressing for an explanation on BoingBoing will be disemvoweled.
posted by humanfont at 8:05 PM on June 10 [17 favorites]


I deeply sympathize with any actual budding hacker kids at this school who will now have to endure their schoolmates viewing them through Doctorow-lenses (I disagree with the principal's reasoning/motivation. But anyway,even without the intervention by Cory, it probably meant more kids will attempt to read the book than if it was officially assigned)

(I've read a couple of chapters of the book. I like the basic concept of the book but the hacker hero kid comes across as an asshole, not sure if that's the point)
posted by Bwithh at 8:09 PM on June 10


Let me tell you about the book where the protagonist was a series of nesting Russian dolls who developed municipal wifi.

A lot of authors I really like have some early published work that feels a bit like an excited golden retriever puppy. All enthusiasm and awkwardness, with too big of feet, but you can see what they'll grow to be. Neal Stephenson is a prime example (ever read The Big U?), and so is Doctorow. He seems to have found a good fit in geeky YA, I think the constraints of the form suit him. I liked Makers pretty well, but really think the YA has been his best work...
posted by polymath at 8:14 PM on June 10


On the one hand, framing a bit of internet self-promotion (from both the author and publisher) as "fighting back" is somewhat distasteful. One the other hand worrying that high school students are going to be stirred up into a frenzy over "the book's positive view of questioning authority, lauding "hacker culture", and discussing sex and sexuality in passing" is even more distasteful.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:19 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Let me tell you about the book where the protagonist was a series of nesting Russian dolls who developed municipal wifi.

A lot of authors I really like have some early published work that feels a bit like an excited golden retriever puppy.... I liked Makers pretty well, but really think the YA has been his best work...


Really? Interesting. I thought Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town was literarily exciting, while Makers felt like a 400-page attempt at a Bruce Sterling short story. (I enjoyed my time with Little Brother well enough, but it's clearly aimed at the sort of teenagers who'll identify with the hero, not adults who'll think he's a jerk.) What did you like about Makers?
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:37 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I found Little Brother way too preachy -- I don't mind infodumps at all, though it's harder when it's info I actually know.

That said, the book does set up for some really interesting discussions and I think that giving away the books to all the students is pretty awesome, even though it seems like it's being done as much for the publicity as anything else.
posted by jeather at 8:45 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Doctorow is a good writer. People hate him because he's so vocal and present, popular blog, etc

Nah sorry. I read a short story of his (When Sysadmins Rules the Earth?), in which a sentence read, if I recall, "He watched a movie he had downloaded by Bittorrent." Really? It really helps move your story along to name-drop the file-sharing method of choice this week? Maybe I'm doing a poor job of explaining why I found this so awful, but it happened all over the place - descriptions of things that read like a teacher trying to be cool by speaking in that groovy jive the kids talk in, and failing utterly. Another short story I tried to read had such breathless, strange pacing that I gave up after three pages. Having said all that, I guess I can't discount that his writing would probably appeal to teenagers. That's what publishing companies mean by "Young Adult", isn't it?
posted by Jimbob at 8:57 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


There's nothing of the inside joke about disliking Doctorow, for it is neither performative in function nor are the reasons hidden from anyone who bothers to ask. Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town had such an interesting premise and I was into it after the disappointment of Eastern Standard Tribe but then he just sort of abandons the interesting premise for another round of technoliberation Stick It To the Man, in this case being mesh wireless. That gets abandoned in favor of just not having an ending to the book. I mean, I ran out of pages but I felt the need to turn it upside down and shake it in case there was some hidden text lodged in there somewhere.

This reads like another PR stunt for Cory.
posted by adipocere at 9:05 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


I thought LB was fine - I'd be willing to hear some actual criticism of it

Spoilers for the book:

I think the biggest flaw in the novel (for me) is that despite the whole hacker DIY-ethos which is pushed in the novel, and the emphasis on doing things yourself and taking control of the narrative and being an agent of change -- despite all this, the way Marcus (the lead character) finally triumphs against the forces of evil is through a blatant appeal to authority: first he goes to his parents, then the press, then the governor of California. It completely and entirely undercuts the themes that Doctorow is trying to push, which is one of distrust of/confrontation of authority.

Also, on a technical note, the State of California has absolutely no authority to kick DHS out of its jurisdiction. Apparently Doctorow has never heard of the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which provides that any power exercised by the federal government which is truly derived from the constitution supercedes any state- or local-governmental interest. It's ludicrous and I cannot believe none of his editors caught it.
posted by suelac at 9:43 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Doctorow is *Canadian*, and what he fictionalizes for a literary point about US government is no worse than what many US writers blather about constitutional monarchies.
posted by Dreidl at 9:51 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I was going to post about how much I hate Cory Doctorow's writing and go into detail about every little thing I find wrong with what he writes.

But what should really be happening is 200 high school students in Florida expressing their opinions about his writing instead, so I guess I'll just tip my hat to Cory and Tor and move on.

School-sponsored book banning is never, ever a good thing.
posted by mmoncur at 9:53 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


Let me tell you about the book where the protagonist was a series of nesting Russian dolls who developed municipal wifi.

You know, I actually really loved that book and I've never quite been able to put my finger on why.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:13 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


You could argue that telling kids not to read something is a very good way to encourage reading

I went to school in small town North Dakota in the 70s. On the other side of the state, a school board ordered copies of Slaughterhouse Five, Deliverance, and a collection of short stories to be burned. Within a few months there were so many kids reading Vonnegut in my high school "and so it goes" became a saying.
posted by Ber at 10:14 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


I think the problem I have with Cory Doctorow is that his confidence as a writer surpasses his actual talent to such a large degree. His prose oozes this. I could tolerate, and even enjoy, a writer with Doctorow-level talent but who was not so unsubtly enamored of his own cleverness.
posted by Ratio at 10:17 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]




That Doctorow is a horrible writer, there is no doubt.
(I mean, "whuffie"?)

But he deserves a lot of praise for this move.
If even a few of those kids learn that is it Not OK for anyone in authority to dictate what can and cannot be read, that is worth a million pages of hackneyed dialogue and convenient plot resolutions.
posted by madajb at 10:34 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Doctorow is a good writer. People hate him because he's so vocal and present, popular blog, etc. Intellectually lazy reasons, mostly.

[This comment is dedicated to The Onion A.V. Club. Starting out as a scrappy cybersidekick to the wonderfully brilliant news satire site The Onion -- which contains some of the most jaw-droppingly trenchant satire of all time -- OAVC has become a media juggernaut in its own right, with jaw-dropping, trenchant critique of current media, be it music, books (hooray for books!), movies, or teevee. Their comment section is just plain top-notch. If you've spent any time there you've likely read some of my trenchant scribblings. I've always felt welcome and comfortable writing comments for them, and the user interface of their comment editor is one of the best in the biz. Their moderators have always treated me like gold.]

Allow me to respond to your statement. Note: I'm typing this from an Apple iPad Air, which is something like a laptop computer but without the keyboard. You type directly onto the screen. If you've never tried this, it takes some getting used to, but after a while you'll never want to use anything else. Take it from someone who's used a lot of different input systems over the years: this one is the king of them all. The book Little Brother is written just like this. People are different and have different tastes in many things (for instance, I like falling asleep listening to the police scanner -- there's an app that really is awesome for that, you ought to check it out -- but you might not like listening to a realtime cybercast of radio chatter between dispatchers and cops or ambulance drivers.) Instead you might prefer falling asleep to white noise or the sound of trains. There are wonderful apps for that too. We can have different opinions, and mine is that the book Little Brother is t3h suxx0r.
posted by Ratio at 11:04 PM on June 10 [37 favorites]


Doctrow is a writer we had to have. Compare and contrast.

Post-Doctrow Protagonist.
I read this post with the Firefox browser, with EFF approved extensions, docked to the edge of my Chumby laptop that I bought with Dogecoin. I didn't read the linked articles because my cute girlfriend was licking my toes and it was time for something else. Just then my Firefox Flame Firefox OS phone started playing a mashup of Gangnam stlye and London Calling by the Clash. It was a secure message sent over TOR from my best friend in London; something else would have to wait. I added the Metafilter thread to my darkweb GIT repository, gave my girlfriend a butterfly kiss as I stuffed my gear into a Shanzhai duffel bag. "Gotta go babe. I'll see you at the G20 protests."

Pre-Doctrow Protagonist.
I read this post with the secret military technology stolen by the soviets beamed directly into my iris with an elite virtual reality headset that I stole from a US Cyber Command bunker. I didn't read the linked articles because I was busy trying to get into the pants of Trixi, a Japanese-Russian dominatrix double-agent seated beside me at Tel-Aviv's most underground bar. Trixi was flirting with me, "If you look at my tits one more time, I will take you to a blacksite, chain you to a wall and ...". Whoa funtimes would have to wait; my milli-meter radar defence system was alerting me to incoming threats. Lots of them; because I'm awesome and everyone wants to mess with my shit.

Both are less than literary and yet entertaining in their own way :)
posted by vicx at 12:14 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


I thought LB was fine - I'd be willing to hear some actual criticism of it

I once mocked Doctorow, and said that he wrote EFF fan fiction, he then had his main character (in the sequel to LB) meet the founders of EFF:

At Burning Man.
While playing a game of DnD with them.
DM'ed by Wil Wheaton.

I had to literally say, out loud, "For Fuck's Sake!" to that.

So to sum up my criticisms:

1. He writes in sheer black or white terms. The members of DHS in Little Brother are monsters.
2. Half the time he basically makes the main character a Marty Stu, a self insertion protagonist who always gets the girl.
3. He name drops technobabble like it's going out of style.
4. As part of the whole "black and white" thing, he never fails to make his antagonists described in negative physical terms:

Two of them -- Severe Haircut woman and utility belt man -- looked at me from their ergonomic super-chairs.

So, I find his work more agitprop than good fiction, and even when someone creates fictions that agrees with my political positions, when they do it in such a ham handed and anvilicious way, it rankles.
posted by zabuni at 12:15 AM on June 11 [18 favorites]


Haven't read anything by him, but either he's using a fairly simple program to generate the pitches or his publisher is using one to produce the book blurbs:

"Marcus is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works – and how to work the system."

"McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net."

"Mala is a brilliant 15-year-old from rural India whose leadership skills in virtual combat have earned her the title of “General Robotwalla.”"
posted by effbot at 2:52 AM on June 11


Doctorow is a writer we wound up with. Compare & contrast.

Post-Doctorow Protagonist.
Professional White Background + matching hardware.
Hipster artisinal milieu.
TL;DR
Treats women like objects.

Pre-Doctorow Protagonist.
Gun Metal Background + assorted cyberpunk trappings.
Hipster dystopia.
TL;DR
Treats women like objects.

Meh. What-evs...
posted by Pudhoho at 2:56 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


School-sponsored book banning is never, ever a good thing.

But this book hasn't been banned. It's still on the reading list for the school's 11th graders. And that almost certainly means it's still in the library, available for anyone who wants it.

What happened here is that a special event, one in which the entire school would be encouraged to read the book simultaneously, has been canceled, apparently because the principal feared backlash from some parents. This might be a shitty reason to cancel a fun thing, but ethically (and practically) speaking I think it's a long, long way from banning a book.

This seems like a pretty insignificant event that would have rightfully gone unnoticed had Doctorow and/or his publishers not decided to spin it into some positive PR.
posted by my favorite orange at 6:28 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Rereading that, I think I ought to clarify: I don't mean to imply that parents and students of Pensacola shouldn't care about this, just that it doesn't strike me as something with national or international impact.
posted by my favorite orange at 6:35 AM on June 11


Jesus, that book was awful. (self-link)
posted by Legomancer at 6:38 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Doctorow is a good writer. People hate him because he's so vocal and present, popular blog, etc. Intellectually lazy reasons, mostly.

The reverse. I like Boing Boing about 70% of the time. I started to read one of Doctorow's books and it immediately annoyed me too much to get past the first couple of chapters.


The Pre- and Post-Doctorow thing really rings true with William Gibson books. It stopped fetishizing future technology and started fetishizing stuff you can buy (*), and it moved from the underdog struggles of people against the system to stories about brands and eccentric marketing strategies.

(*) This is the same thing that happened to James Bond movies. Pens with lasers in them were cool before you could buy them for two bucks and use them to play with your cat.
posted by Foosnark at 6:40 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]




And just when we were done with the furries.
posted by sidereal at 8:25 AM on June 11


I read Little Brother when it was first published back in 2008. I'm pretty curious how it reads in the post-Snowden age (but not quite curious enough to spend my limited free time re-reading it). Is it more believable now, or less? How much have the technical bits changed?
posted by mbrubeck at 9:05 AM on June 11


Isn't Little Brother the book where kids are going around modchipping Xboxes, and instead of using it to pirate games like real kids would, they use it to...run Linux? And this is hailed as some great thing while you could get a Linux PC with the same power for probably half the price.
posted by ymgve at 9:07 AM on June 11


The XBoxes were free, it was a failed razor blade scam.
posted by NoraReed at 9:11 AM on June 11


Ah, so Cory is even more out of touch with reality than I suspected.
posted by ymgve at 9:11 AM on June 11


I've only read a few things by Doctorow. I think the whuffie example is a perfect example to express how I feel about him. Its a really great sci-fi concept that is expressed in the most mediocre of ways. I mean, that name is just terrible, and by the time I finished reading "Down and Out.." i felt like I had been sledgehammered by the concept. I think if he spent a little more time honing the craft of writing, he'd be much better in the long run. Unfortunately, I don't think many writers at this stage in their career really have the luxury to do that.

I also immediately twitch at anything that name checks wil wheaton. No, I don't care that you sit at the cool geek kids table. Please stop.
posted by lownote at 9:20 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Xbox Linux really was a popular thing among the Slashdot crowd about a decade ago. The Xbox wasn't free, but it was sold at a loss for under US$150, making modded consoles very attractive as super-cheap living room PCs. (Microsoft's Xbox division posted losses of $1 to 2 billion per year from 2003 to 2007.)
posted by mbrubeck at 9:37 AM on June 11


The sad part is that they stopped the reading program because the book had profanity:

The English teacher who’d selected Little Brother told Doctorow that a parent reportedly had complained to the principal about profanity, thus challenging the book on content

Of all the complaints you can lay at the book's feet, it really doesn't have that much cursing. I can't remember any. And questioning authority? What books could you actually read?
posted by zabuni at 9:40 AM on June 11


Xbox Linux really was a popular thing among the Slashdot crowd about a decade ago. The Xbox wasn't free, but it was sold at a loss for under US$150, making modded consoles very attractive as super-cheap living room PCs. (Microsoft's Xbox division posted losses of $1 to 2 billion per year from 2003 to 2007.)

Yes, Linux on a modded Xbox was all the rage on Slashdot some years ago. The thing is that while it resonated with the Slashdot crowd on a "stick it to the man" level, I'm pretty sure almost no one actually bought an Xbox solely to convert it into a media center and didn't also want to pirate games.

From what I've read of the reviews earlier, it really sounds like the book is a checklist of everything that happened to pop up on Boing Boing and Slashdot during the months he wrote the book, completely disregarding if it actually fit into the narrative.
posted by ymgve at 9:59 AM on June 11


I listened to the audiobook of Little Brother about a year ago, and I rather liked it. I'm not as well-versed in technology as many mefites, so a lot of the infodumps about things like Paranoid Linux and ways to foil gait recognition tech were new to me. It's true that he spends a good deal of time just explaining various bits of technology, but I found his explanations engaging, and the examples of how such tech can be used kind of inspiring. I could see finding them a bit tedious if I were already intimately familiar with the tech though.

Yes, Doctorow does have a problem with very annoying main characters. The guy from Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was so irritating it nearly ruined the book for me. But Marcus in Little Brother is believable to me as a full-of-himself teenage tech geek, and I've definitely known teenagers like him who would identify with him.

When I was in the young adult demographic less than a decade ago, I read constantly, and I was very into dystopian novels and science fiction. I never encountered anything that approached contemporary technology in the DIY way that Little Brother does. I'd also never read anything that gave teenagers context and ways to directly fight contemporary political developments that personally affected them. I do think that if I'd read this book as a teenager it would have inspired me to learn more about cryptography and hacking. And you know what? That's pretty cool.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 10:45 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


What I want to know is how Boing Boing stays in business, but MetaFilter cannot.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:26 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Well, I can dig where people are not into the tone, and Doctorow has a problem with all his characters sounding the same (mind you, so does fucking Don Delilo). But from the review above:

"Except: we don’t. Marcus has at his disposal tools that simply don’t exist for any of us. Despite the fact that the DHS has the city locked down and is tracking people via RFID tags, the kids can easily buy RFID readers and writers from Radio Shack! When the Internet becomes unsafe, it turns out that Microsoft — Microsoft! — has literally given out thousands of free X-boxes that can connect to the Internet! And there’s a Linux distro called ParanoidLinux that not only can easily be run on these X-boxes"

Argh. You can get RFID readers on Amazon for 20 bucks. I got my xbox for free when I got my internet services. They were handing them out like candy in the early days. And there are many, many privacy centered Linux distros.

You don't like, him that's fine. But he does know from what he speaks.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:08 PM on June 11


Cory writes LB in a voice that is easy to understand for a less mature reader; this is addressing his audience.

Many chapters introduced technical concepts, both in a social context and then with enough technical detail that someone can actually understand what the technobabble was.

LB is a book intended to educate, disguised as a novel. It perhaps sits badly with people who know good writing or good technology, but for someone without a basis in both it can be an excellent book.
posted by Jerub at 2:35 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


lumpenprole: The technology is (and will always be) the easy part. Doctrow breaks out the handwavium over the more complex social bits - things like the weak point of any secure network being the human factor. This is where his penchant for Randian loading of the plot becomes a problem - we need the villains to be idiots, so they don't attack the problem from an angle that he isn't considering.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:16 PM on June 11


LB is a book intended to educate, disguised as a novel. It perhaps sits badly with people who know good writing or good technology, but for someone without a basis in both it can be an excellent book.

Educate what? How to stick it to The Man in case of fascist takeover? As people have said, this will only work if (a) the fascists are incredibly stupid, incurious, and not actually looking at the subjects they're surveilling and (b) you've been gifted by a fairy godfather with tools and situations that happen to grease the wheels for you.

lumpenprole, my point there wasn't that this is impossible. My point is that when your city is under martial law and surveillance and the population is being tagged and tracked with RFID devices, the idea that citizens would be allowed to buy RFID read/writers and hand out Xboxes and DVDs on street corners without eliciting any suspicion whatsoever (including a protagonist who's been told by the occupiers that "we'll be watching you") shows that Doctorow doesn't have enough faith in his story and ideas without significantly hobbling the bad guys. Indeed, given the amount of leeway, access, and freedom Marcus has, it's really hard to see what the hell he's reacting against in the first place.
posted by Legomancer at 6:10 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


But Legomancer, that happens all the time. People in the middle east put together ad hoc wireless networks from stuff they had lying around to try and get the word out during the Arab Spring.

I think it even more likely to happen in the US, where whatever else you can say about unrestrained capitalism, it's at least true that the government has a hard time cracking down on anything that's not centralized.

And even if that's the hand-waving, it's less hand-waving then most sci-fi. I mean compare the gov forgetting about the back stock in a Radio Shack vs artificial gravity.

given the amount of leeway, access, and freedom Marcus has, it's really hard to see what the hell he's reacting against in the first place

What you mean besides being detained, terrorized, and threatened? I don't really understand why you're so dead set against this being a cracking yarn whose point is to tell young people that no matter what happens, the government is not in the habit in giving rights back once they are taken away.

Like, I get that you don't like Doctorow, and as I think I said earlier, there are criticisms to level against him, but your critique feels really nit-picky.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:09 AM on June 12


We don't fear books
posted by homunculus at 10:54 PM on June 13


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