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nerdc0re.
August 28, 2002 2:20 AM   Subscribe

nerdc0re. "0wnz0red", Cory Doctorow's fantastispooky new short story. There's something uniquely thrilling about seeing tech talk in fiction. A refreshing change from the literary equivalent of movie OS.
posted by condour75 (26 comments total)

 
I only read the first couple pages and frankly its just a gimmick. Clockwork Orange did 'future-slang' long ago and it was gimmicky also, but it also had a killer story. Its fun stuff and I've experimented with the same kind of thing, but I really hope it doesn't catch on.
posted by skallas at 2:45 AM on August 28, 2002


Hmm. Whereas I read the whole thing, and I really enjoyed it. It doesn't come across as a gimmick; it's just how these guys talk. Plus it's really well-written and engaging. Enjoyed it greatly.
posted by toddshot at 4:08 AM on August 28, 2002


I just liked the word 'fantastispooky'.
posted by internook at 4:21 AM on August 28, 2002


I liked it a lot. I worried at first that all the slang was going to get pretentious, but this guy knows what he's doing. Good story.
posted by bingo at 4:25 AM on August 28, 2002


I enjoyed it too. The slang may or may not be a bit overboard... I work in IT and I don't know anybody who actually talks that way. But at least the writer has some grasp of the concepts behind the jargon. And it's a fun story to read, anyway.
posted by Loudmax at 4:58 AM on August 28, 2002


The slang is an example of ha-ha only serious, that is, a kind of hacker deadpan. It's not that people "really" talk this way, except jocularly in their own minds or among themselves.
posted by dhartung at 6:08 AM on August 28, 2002


I found this particularly rewarding, inasmuch as it's self fulfilling prophecy from the Cyberpunk era of 20 years ago.

If you recall correctly, the Gibson bunch (Sterling, Shelley, et al) had a touch of the jargon-bug as a symbol of how forward thinking they really thought of themselves. I always admired how Gibson was able to weave this into prose that took me 2 or 3 tries to reason through my personal parser. The real demigod in this vernacular temple was Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren [Amazon], although he predated the Cyberpunk masses by a couple of years.

OwnzOred is entertaining in this light, as it reads like something one of these writers would have created in the 80s with an eye toward some sort of dystopic future-reality. The eerie part of it is how close it falls to my own experiences in today's reality -- which is why I read it through to the end.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:28 AM on August 28, 2002


Any relation to E.L. Doctorow?
posted by ghastlyfop at 6:30 AM on August 28, 2002


Paternal grandfather's uncle.

I also want to point out that just as with this old topic, the creative work discussed here is that of a person who is a member and reader of Metafilter.
posted by crunchland at 6:43 AM on August 28, 2002


OK, but since when does Salon publish fiction?
posted by blueshammer at 7:33 AM on August 28, 2002


Salon has a long history of publishing fiction. Fairly good fiction at that. I often miss their serials like Nancy Chan and Silicon Folies
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 7:42 AM on August 28, 2002


Wow - I thought cyberpunk was dead. That's a fun story. Of course nobody actually talks like that, except in jest, but it still feels right as a dramatized version of geek-talk.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:18 AM on August 28, 2002


I'm really enjoying this. I like Doctorow's prose, too. It's economical and flows right into your brain, but without resorting to Hemingway "See Dick run" sentences. Gritty, very realistic.

BTW, Thanotopsis -- I love Delany, but didn't you think Dhalgren was a little bit of a... I don't know, concept trick? I mean, the bit about the paragraphs and the actual structure of the book disintegrating as time/reality disintegrates in the plot was cool, but really, wasn't it almost inaccessible to the reader? Kind of a parlor trick?
posted by Shane at 8:21 AM on August 28, 2002


Love it! Cory, flesh this out into a full book and sell the screenplay rights. It'd make a great novel and movie.
posted by waxpancake at 9:57 AM on August 28, 2002


BTW, Thanotopsis -- I love Delany, but didn't you think Dhalgren was a little bit of a... I don't know, concept trick? I mean, the bit about the paragraphs and the actual structure of the book disintegrating as time/reality disintegrates in the plot was cool, but really, wasn't it almost inaccessible to the reader? Kind of a parlor trick?

I agree, to some extent: Delany was always a bit over the top. He's the prime example of futuristic setting with fanciful prose. IIRC correctly, one of the first few paragraphs of Dhalgren describes a spaghetti filled VW Bug.

The vastness of the work, however, and the depth of the story give me pause to define it as a simple parlor trick. Every time I go back and reread it, I find a vision I hadn't found before -- and each time I leave the pages, I feel like I have to shake off the bad Acid trip.

If you want inaccessible (heh), you should check out Iain Banks' Feersum Endjinn, which appears to be the penultimate of "Trial by Language."
posted by thanotopsis at 10:27 AM on August 28, 2002


Haven't read Feersum Endjinn, but Russel Hoban's Riddley Walker left me literally unable to talk for a couple of hours after the first time I tried to read the book. I still haven't finished it.
posted by webmutant at 10:43 AM on August 28, 2002


(I'm in "OT-small mode." All this MetaEtiquetteTalk is making me self-conscious lately.)

...should check out Iain Banks' Feersum Endjinn

I should check out Banks in general. Been meaning to for a long time, now I will. I should really re-read Dhalgren, too. I gave it a kind of a skim the first time -- felt a little intimidated by it.

Ya know, it's so hard to find time to read these days, I find myself keeping two books going: One "slog through" massive volume (currently Zelazny's 10 volumes of Amber) and One fast, fun read (Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl.) Dhalgren would be a great "phonebook" for work.

posted by Shane at 10:51 AM on August 28, 2002


i'm still trying to get through russell hoban's turtle diary!
posted by kliuless at 10:58 AM on August 28, 2002


This is great. I have always thought that Cory was a talented writer, and the slang doesn't come across and gimmicky or contrived to me at all. I would love to see the story fleshed out into a novel.
posted by ztt at 11:18 AM on August 28, 2002


Dhalgren was great. The story that started this thread is not bad. Kind of reminded me of Bear'sBlood Music, but without the "alien" intelligence. The techie-speak was laughable, but worked perfectly in the context of the story. What I found more interesting is that Mr. Doctorow is the author of The Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction. Had no idea such a critter existed...
posted by hurkle at 12:47 PM on August 28, 2002


i can see some of your points on gimmickiness -- specifically the hax0r stuff, which i seriously doubt gets used among the true valley leet except in occasional gest. But I really think, after having posted, that what struck me about the story was its content more than its jargon, although the two are closely related. This is the sort of story that couldn't really be told in a dumbed-down way, and props to Cory for getting it told.

It's also a parallel that inhabits even an occasional coder's dreams. I remember thinking once, during a particularly bad allergy attack, how great it would be if I could do an immune system rebuild. After all, aren't allergies just analog bitrot?
posted by condour75 at 3:26 PM on August 28, 2002


Techie-speak was no problem. Ending was anticlimactic.
posted by zerolucid at 5:26 PM on August 28, 2002


Hey -- glad you folks dug it! I had a great time writing it. For those of you who didn't like it, well, chacun son gout.
posted by doctorow at 11:17 PM on August 28, 2002


thanotopsis: If you want inaccessible (heh), you should check out Iain Banks' Feersum Endjinn, which appears to be the penultimate of "Trial by Language."

Not sure what you mean by "penultimate." Is it part of a series?
posted by bingo at 4:01 AM on August 29, 2002


Love it! Cory, flesh this out into a full book and sell the screenplay rights.

I agree. d00d (heh), you realize you've got a wellspring here? This story could spawn a large novel easily, no worries about it ever bogging down or being boring. This is already destined for the Canon of "Cyberpunk" classics, like Gibson et al.

My only (small) complaint: I can't imagine Murray's "release papers" being anything but his death, or worse, permanent status as an experiment/lab rat.
posted by Shane at 9:32 AM on August 29, 2002


I dunno about a novel or movie, but count me in as one who enjoyed it greatly as a short story. Nice one, Cory. I'm going to hunt down some more of your writing after this.0
posted by sennoma at 5:59 PM on August 29, 2002


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