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Have you ever wondered what it's like to get bitten by a zombie? To live through a bioweapon attack? To have every aspect of your life governed by invisible ants? In Cory Doctorow's collection of novellas, he wields his formidable experience in technology and computing to give us mindbending sci-fi tales that explore the possibilities of information technology — and its va Have you ever wondered what it's like to get bitten by a zombie? To live through a bioweapon attack? To have every aspect of your life governed by invisible ants? In Cory Doctorow's collection of novellas, he wields his formidable experience in technology and computing to give us mindbending sci-fi tales that explore the possibilities of information technology — and its various uses — run amok. "Anda's Game" is a spin on the bizarre new phenomenon of "cyber sweatshops," in which people are paid very low wages to play online games all day in order to generate in-game wealth, which can be converted into actual money. Another tale tells of the heroic exploits of "sysadmins" — systems administrators — as they defend the cyber-world, and hence the world at large, from worms and bioweapons. And yes, there is a story about zombies, too.


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Have you ever wondered what it's like to get bitten by a zombie? To live through a bioweapon attack? To have every aspect of your life governed by invisible ants? In Cory Doctorow's collection of novellas, he wields his formidable experience in technology and computing to give us mindbending sci-fi tales that explore the possibilities of information technology — and its va Have you ever wondered what it's like to get bitten by a zombie? To live through a bioweapon attack? To have every aspect of your life governed by invisible ants? In Cory Doctorow's collection of novellas, he wields his formidable experience in technology and computing to give us mindbending sci-fi tales that explore the possibilities of information technology — and its various uses — run amok. "Anda's Game" is a spin on the bizarre new phenomenon of "cyber sweatshops," in which people are paid very low wages to play online games all day in order to generate in-game wealth, which can be converted into actual money. Another tale tells of the heroic exploits of "sysadmins" — systems administrators — as they defend the cyber-world, and hence the world at large, from worms and bioweapons. And yes, there is a story about zombies, too.

30 review for Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present

  1. 4 out of 5

    Evgeny

    This is a collection of 6 novellas that are confusingly enough available individually on the author page. I will review all of them. Printcrime. Thanks to copyright laws simple printing is a serious crime in the near future. It is punishable by a prison term. As usual Doctorow talks about some subjects most people do not care much about, but we really go toward this kind of future. When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth . I do believe that sysadmin is one of the most thankless job not just in IT, but ever This is a collection of 6 novellas that are confusingly enough available individually on the author page. I will review all of them. Printcrime. Thanks to copyright laws simple printing is a serious crime in the near future. It is punishable by a prison term. As usual Doctorow talks about some subjects most people do not care much about, but we really go toward this kind of future. When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth . I do believe that sysadmin is one of the most thankless job not just in IT, but everywhere else. When everything works people wonder why they need you at all; when stuff breaks you really need to fix it two hours ago. This time sysadmins got a chance to build a new society after the old one was destroyed. They might not do a good job, but they have a lot of experience of trying again and again until they got it right. Some reviewers call it self-indulgent, but I consider it to be a fitting tribute to people whose job we really do not see until something stops working (and then we start blaming them for everything). Anda's Game. I have not read the graphic novel In Real Life, but from what I understand it is based on this story. A British girl is a big fan of a MMORPG. While she lives a typical first world sheltered life she stumbled upon a child work exploitation right in the game. She realized the third world kids sometimes do not have such easy living. I, Robot. We all heard of the Third Laws of Robotics by Asimov, right? Doctorow managed to turn them upside down and show how they can be subverted to kill technology innovations and personal freedoms. Do not believe it can be done? Read it. This time I have to mention I strongly disagree with some of the points, but I still have to admit that the story is very good. I, Row-Boat. This story has one of the most original beginning of any science fiction tale. A sentient row-boat came to a sentient coral reef and the coral reef said, "Get the f... out of here". I think I quoted this one verbatim. How is that for originality? This is continuation of Doctorow's take on Three Laws of Robotics. It asks an interesting question: how can a robot be distinguished from a human when the line between them is quite blurry? After The Siege. Doctorow's grandmother was a survivor of the Siege of Leningrad. This story was heavily inspired by her recollections of that time. It is about a siege of a city in science fiction settings; this time with zombies. It should not be hard to guess this one is the most depressing tale of the anthology, but it does give a good picture of starving people trying to defend their city. People familiar with Greek myths know the name Cassandra. She was a prophetess under a curse that nobody would listen to her predictions despite the fact that they always came true. Somehow Doctorow reminded me of her: he speaks about important subjects most people tend to ignore fully occupying themselves with some insignificant ones. My rating is 3.5 stars rounded up because of the importance of the things discussed as I already mentioned several times. Yes, even considering that I do not always agree with Doctorow's point of view.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    I run hot and cold on Doctorow, sometimes he's really entertaining, and sometimes he doesn't do enough storytelling to cover up the fact that his books serve as a soapbox for him to share his opinions on technology. This short-story collection contains 5 stories, and each star in my rating corresponds with each of the stories I liked. There were two I could have done without: "When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth" was too self-indulgent for my tastes, almost like it was fantasy wish-fulfillment for so I run hot and cold on Doctorow, sometimes he's really entertaining, and sometimes he doesn't do enough storytelling to cover up the fact that his books serve as a soapbox for him to share his opinions on technology. This short-story collection contains 5 stories, and each star in my rating corresponds with each of the stories I liked. There were two I could have done without: "When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth" was too self-indulgent for my tastes, almost like it was fantasy wish-fulfillment for someone who takes arguing on the Internets way, way too seriously. "I Row-Boat" reminded me a lot of Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, except Down and Out was actually well-written.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Overall, well narrated, but fell way short of what I expected & the stories average out to under 2.5 stars. None were terrible, but just didn't live up to their potential by a long shot. Great ideas & interesting themes that weren't developed or were diluted. Each story is preceded by a short introduction about where the idea came from & where the story was originally published plus miscellaneous observations. They're often as interesting as the story. Printcrime: Gee, who would have thought of Overall, well narrated, but fell way short of what I expected & the stories average out to under 2.5 stars. None were terrible, but just didn't live up to their potential by a long shot. Great ideas & interesting themes that weren't developed or were diluted. Each story is preceded by a short introduction about where the idea came from & where the story was originally published plus miscellaneous observations. They're often as interesting as the story. Printcrime: Gee, who would have thought of that? Everyone, of course. Sigh. 2 stars He's against DRM & gave the Microsoft Research Digital Rights Management (DRM) Talk which I gave a 5 star review to. It was much better than this story. When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth: I liked this more the last time I read it free online. 3 stars this time, but I gave it 4 stars in my original review. It does have a lot of heart, just doesn't bear rereading too often. Anda's Game: a bit of "Ender's Game" & he explains how he likes to allude to a well known title, take the idea & change it. Not a bad idea. This is all on earth & it takes on the inequality of wealth plus a few other things. 3 stars I, Robot: Using the same title as Asimov's book is just wrong & he could have made his point better by adding an 's' to the end of the title. I could really see Wil Smith playing the MC, so I guess the movie wasn't a complete waste - close, though. So was this story. He had a couple of good ideas threading through this, but never developed them. I prefer his shorter work where he has less time to dilute his themes. 2 stars I, Row-Boat: Better title, but pretty much the same complaints from me. Good ideas that weren't well developed or diluted. There are also some huge holes that are just ignored with hand waving. 2 stars After the Siege: Based on his grandmother's experience during the siege of St. Petersburg, this had a fantastic backdrop that was very well described, but he really screwed up the execution. Zombies were not needed & there's a huge hole that's just ignored. 3 stars

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    Cory Doctorow is a nerd's nerd. As one of the founders of BoingBoing, he has been at the forefront of web culture, meme dispersion, and fair copyright advocacy. In his off-time he also writes some pretty decent science fiction. His style is a familiar one- adopting netwide themes into stories to help explain these advances to those who spend less time fully immersed in the digital world. I imagine trying to explain the phenomena of gold farming to someone who has never played World of Warcraft w Cory Doctorow is a nerd's nerd. As one of the founders of BoingBoing, he has been at the forefront of web culture, meme dispersion, and fair copyright advocacy. In his off-time he also writes some pretty decent science fiction. His style is a familiar one- adopting netwide themes into stories to help explain these advances to those who spend less time fully immersed in the digital world. I imagine trying to explain the phenomena of gold farming to someone who has never played World of Warcraft would be difficult, but Doctorow manages to explain it in an engaging manner with his story "Anda's Game" (yes, that's a deliberate play on Ender's Game). It's rare that we ever think of the server farms that allow sites like Goodreads, Google, or Facebook to function, but a reader swiftly realizes the importance of the System Administrators who oversee these well-oiled machines when a global catastrophe spares only the SysAdmins who were called from their beds in the middle of the night to take care of their servers in his "When SysAdmins Ruled the Earth." And that's only two of the six stories that Doctorow offers up in this collection. I had heard most of these before because I subscribe to Doctorow's podcast, where he often reads his works-in-progress, but it was enjoyable to see them in print form for once, and I definitely did not mind reading them again. My only complaint is also a familiar one. Doctorow tends to get so wrapped up in his worlds and ideas that his characters feel like so much filler. The man has a nose for technical innovations (I'm still obsessed with seeing his concept of shared music libraries from Eastern Standard Tribes become a reality) but his characters just don't really leave much of an impact. At times it feels as if a person suffering from Aspberger's were trying to write a passionate love story- disconnected, stilted and a little confusing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anton

    I really liked this book. The stories in this book made me really rethink life and the future. The sci-fi stories were really interesting, and made me see life in another way.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jean-marcel

    I'm almost certain I've read a few of Doctorow's stories before, likely in Asimov's SF magazine back in the days when it used to be produced in braille, but I don't recall my impression of him at the time other than a vague idea that he liked to play with the concept of technologically assisted evolution. Here I am with my first anthology of Doctorow shorts, some of which have ended up in some pretty mainstream magazines, as well as having a story featured in the Best American Short Stories anho I'm almost certain I've read a few of Doctorow's stories before, likely in Asimov's SF magazine back in the days when it used to be produced in braille, but I don't recall my impression of him at the time other than a vague idea that he liked to play with the concept of technologically assisted evolution. Here I am with my first anthology of Doctorow shorts, some of which have ended up in some pretty mainstream magazines, as well as having a story featured in the Best American Short Stories anholoty edited by Michael CCabon. The tales are interesting, sometimes even well written. I found myself really impressed by Doctorow's ability to think through a contemporary situation and extrapolate something that's so very close to what we know. The stories largely seem very probable, in other words, even if they deal with some far-flung concepts. His settings feel very real (two of the stories are set in my home city, which helped in my case, at least), and characters are nicely depicted in well-drawn shades of grey. Doctorow clearly has a few axes to grind with respect to the notions of copyrights, trademarks and technology's effect on economic futures all over the globe, and this is a theme that runs through most of the stories here. Unfortunately Doctorow seems to have a problem with endings. Only the very shortest story in this book ends in what I would consider a satisfactory fashion, and to be frank it's barely consequential and more of an "intro piece" here than anything else. Conflict also doesn't seem very high on Doctorow's list of literary priorities, so that while the idea of conflict certainly exists in every story, said struggle is never really resolved in a way that seems credible, or is sometimes even glossed over entirely by the author merely telling us about what finally happened in the closing paragraphs. The book is short, so I may as well talk a little of each story individually. Some spoilers, probably, but I'll try and keep them to a minimum. Printcrime: A short-short describing how replication technology (that is, the duplication of material objects through digital means) will impact intellectual property and law enforcement. The ending earned a nod from me. This little piece is an excellent way to start off the anthology. When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth: Here, Doctorow uses his background as a systems' administrator to hypothesise what would happen to the guys trying to keep the Internet up and running from their hermetic server cages while the world's infrastructure collapsed due to biological, nuclear and incendiary attack. The loneliness of these people, and their hope, are depicted with stark clarity, and not once did I get a sense that any of these things could never happen. Usually I don't give a toss for overblown efforts at realism in science fiction, but I recognise that for stories like this one, it's really important. Of course the ending is a rush job and the small conflict developing among the admins basically just simmers for a bit and then dies, but in this tale it's almost fitting and perhaps had to be this way. Anda's Game: The first of a few tributes to older writers' SF stories in here, twisting, of course, the title of Orson Scott Carde's famous depiction of a boy playing games to win a war, and in a way offering an answer or a different perspective on a similar situation. There are also a load of Ray Bradbury references in here, and though I haven't actually read a great deal of Bradbury, it was fun to spot them. This one's about a lonely, overweight English girl whose addicted to the rush of an online fantasy RPG, and how she discovers that little girls in a Mexican sweatshop are being used as wage slaves to click mice and generate gold which is then sold on EBay, and how a rival factory sends children like herself on quest missions in the game to kill their hapless characters. This story is quite cathartic and there are a couple of hearth-wrenching moments. It also seems to have gotten Doctorow a lot of attention in mainstream press. I found it ultimately a bit unsatisfying, though. Again, it's that sense of barely resolved and barely-accounted-for conflict, I think, and the fact that a couple of things about the story just don't seem to make a lot of sense. The big coup basically happens offstage and we never learn why, for example, the leader of the Farrenheit clan, who for some reason goes to schools and encourages girls to play RPGs, ends up supporting the cause of the two young friends fighting for the freedom of the Mexican workers, when presumably she sanctioned their kill missions in the first place. Apart from making young Anda a very sympathetic character, I was impressed by Doctorow's accurate portrayal of gaming culture in both its most positive and negative aspects. I, ROBOT: Obviously, this one plays a great deal with Asimov's tropes, but Doctorow has imagined a company like Asimov's US Robotics operating in a sort of dystopian North America. He also borrows some terminology and the eternal war situation from 1984. But while 1984 shows Eurasia and Oceana as basically being two sides of the same sort of scenario, Doctorow's Eurasia seems to be a heavenly utopia of technological, intellectual and artistic progress whereas the UNATS regions are backwards, sheep-like, supersticious and ruled by fear and repression. This one's protagonist is a divorced Toronto cop with a troublesome daughter who neglects her school and so forth so she can engage in illegal activities, much to her father's chagrin. The officer follows the party line implicitly until his daughter goes missing, which sets in motion a chain of events which will lead him to break a number of rules and ultimately to reunite with his defected ex-wife. I appreciated how Arturo, the cop in question, was shown to be a hardened and none-too-likable man, yet ultimately a well-intentioned one who really cared for his young daughter, despite his blustery threats and posturing. What I did not really take to was the simplistic nature of the revelations that come fast and furious by the end. It was particularly frustrating because the tone set in the first several pages is one of intrigue and tension, with a nearly dystopian-noir feeling that I found eminently appealing. But, damnit, Eurasia is just so perfect, and so far ahead of everyone else, and we should all, apparently, embrace the idea of multiple clones of ourselves running in parallel, and harmonious social matrimony with robotics, and in Eurasia they don't even have any crime. At one point the police find a robot assassins designed to disable UNATS robots, and upon capture it begins to spout slogans about the greatness of Eurasia and its achievements, and how well it treats defectors. One of the lab workers muses that the machines like to "drop into propaganda mode" when captured. Well, once Arturo's ex-wife shows up, I felt like Cory Doctorow had dropped into some kind of propaganda mode of his own. Call me a cynic, if you will, but I simply refuse to believe in this kind of dualism: This side, all bad, backwards and horrible; that side, a bastion of wonder and progress. The "estrange family reunited" maudlinness at the end made me feel a little queasy inside. I, Row-Boat Well, here we go: A story about a lonely robot-row-boat operating as an attachment to a ship that takes humans on deep-sea dives somewhere off the Australian coral coast. Machines have attained sentience, but most of them decide to shut down their awareness once humanity leaves the Earth and uploads its consciousness en masse to some kind of shiny digital wonderworld network spanning the vast solar system and all its satellites. Humans can download themselves into "body shells" at will to experience flesh sensations, and a religion called Asimovism has grown rampant among the remaining self-aware robots which operates on the precepts of Asimov's Three Laws. Animals have also been "uplifted" into intelligence (I believe this concept was borrowed from David Bryn), and the premise of this tale is that a coral reef has been "awakened" and is none too happy with humanity infesting its waters. it took me a bit to warm to this one, but I eventually grew rather fascinated by it. The philosophical discussions between Robbie the Row-Boat and the entity calling itself R. Daneel Olivaw, a sort of Asimovism guru (naturally), are quite interesting even if they ultimately don't seem to lead anywhere. I laughed at the notion of IMs and Wikipedia still being around in this hyper-evolved future time. What also fascinated me--and I may be revealing a little about myself by saying this--is that in my gut I feel rather apprehensive about the idea of these kinds of far-flung human evolutions. Would you jetison your body if it meant you could flit among the satellites and planets, existing inside servers and machines and capable of performing vast computations at the level of millions per second? I admit it, the "cybernetic future" unsettles me--I grew up with the kind of stories that were warnings about just this sort of thing: That it meant loss of individuality, emotion, that our bodies and earthly "meat" are of paramount importance, and that we should not put our faith in machines and their like. I suspect for people like Doctorow, quite the reverse is true--and he isn't necessarily saying we ought to put "faith" in machines, but rather that freedom from our earthly forms will mean we will be able to clean up the planet and reawaken nature to something like its former glory, only, perhaps, improved. What startled me I think was that this story made me pause and examine my own mindset, and wonder why it is exactly that I balk at the notion of such shattering techno-evolutionary changes. We may get there very, very slowly, and in tiny increments, but it seems very likely that humans will become more and more cybernetised in the coming centuries. To his credit, Doctorow does examine this issue in some depth and from more than one angle, so he doesn't really come across like a raving technophile. Again, the ending was simultaneously a bit too perfect and yet not perfect or satisfying at all. After the Siege: Using his grandmother's struggle in Leningrad of the 1940s as a basis, Doctorow weaves this tense and heavy story of a future city deemed guilty of some kind of intellectual property violation (they use "pritners" to copy vast quantities of matter so that everyone will be fed and so poverty will not exist) and placed under siege by a group of nations, led, apparently, by the USA. The country in which this tale takes place is never named, but the feeling is certainly rather Eastern european, and the society depicted probably communist. The protagonist is a young girl, again, and the story shows how she must struggle as her world dies all around her. Bio-weapon-inflicted zombiism runs rampant in the city, and food is scarce, power nonexistent, and the corpses of her family and friends pile up all around her. This is a grave tale and I found that, perhaps due to Doctorow's personal connection with the subject matter, his writing attained a peak here. There's a little more to the story, too: young Vale discovers a man living on the outskirts of the city with an unbelievable quantity of food, fine clothes, and other unheard-of amenities. Doctorow writes the story in such a way that for pages you think this "Wizard" is working for the city's enemy, but the truth is, in some respects, worse. Doctorow seems to be making some pretty pointed social commentary here, especially about the filthy nature of appeasement and the inaction of bodies like the United Nations. At one point a character of the Wizard's entourage says something like: "it's one thing to chastise your enemies for their slaughter, and quite another to put an end to it". A fine message; one which I agree with wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, once again, we have an ending that falls a bit flat for me, and even the elevated writing can't really prevent me from rolling my eyes when there's an inexplicably maudlin and pseudo-romantic last page. I would have also liked to have understood the conflict between the city and its rivals a little better. Presumably the enemy also have "printers", and the Wizard certainly does, so what's the problem, exactly? I suppose it's that the city wanted to make such technology available freely to all peoples, and the North Americans/EU, driven by corporate interests, wanted to force a high price for their product. Still, this could certainly have been more elucidated or discussed in the text. Good story though, up until the last few pages. There you have it. I found this to be a very interesting read even though I feel like coming down hard on some of the tales. I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy more Doctorow books, but if another crosses my path I will probably read with engagement.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hans Otterson

    I've only read two of Doctorow's novels, one of which expanded my mind such that I've read it three times and roleplayed in its world and used it as part of an aborted Kenneth-Goldsmithian mechanico-literary experiment (Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom), another of which I found competent but not worth pursuing as far as its sequel (Little Brother). I daresay that this collection is strong evidence that Doctorow provides more worth to the world when he's printing short stories in place of novel I've only read two of Doctorow's novels, one of which expanded my mind such that I've read it three times and roleplayed in its world and used it as part of an aborted Kenneth-Goldsmithian mechanico-literary experiment (Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom), another of which I found competent but not worth pursuing as far as its sequel (Little Brother). I daresay that this collection is strong evidence that Doctorow provides more worth to the world when he's printing short stories in place of novels. Other than the weakpoint "I, Robot", every story is worth your time and worth your time again. Doctorow has a facility with the present cultural moment and uses the illusion of the future and characters worth caring about to splay it out before us. "After the Seige" is particularly true, and beautiful, if you're looking to be economical. (A part of the Shelf Love project: https://tinyurl.com/y5w8h4pa) 8W

  8. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Good collection. As always, I liked some stories more then others (doh.) Whole collxn is available online at https://craphound.com/category/overcl... (incl audio version). Good collection. As always, I liked some stories more then others (doh.) Whole collxn is available online at https://craphound.com/category/overcl... (incl audio version).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael Battaglia

    I will give Doctorow credit that he tends to put his beliefs into practice in regards to copyright laws, releasing his books in electronic versions through Creative Commons licenses. He's a strong advocate for his ideas on how information should be handled in the 21st century and his essays on the role of digital media and our relationships to it are probably interesting reading. I just wish he could make his stories more interesting. Before this I had read one of his novels, "Eastern Standard Tri I will give Doctorow credit that he tends to put his beliefs into practice in regards to copyright laws, releasing his books in electronic versions through Creative Commons licenses. He's a strong advocate for his ideas on how information should be handled in the 21st century and his essays on the role of digital media and our relationships to it are probably interesting reading. I just wish he could make his stories more interesting. Before this I had read one of his novels, "Eastern Standard Tribe", which I felt took the kernel of a quirky concept and then proceeded to spend a lot of its time having the man character prove his genius to us over and over again instead of playing with the consequences of its concept. With the book being fairly short to begin with, it didn't leave a lot of room for fascinating plot twists but you definitely left feeling that the main character was a rare man of independent thought, mostly because the book kept telling you that. Just my kind of novel. Here, in a volume about the same length as that novel, he gives us six stories (really five, as one is too short to really count) with some context setting introductions. All were published in the couple years proceeding that novel and if it proves one thing, its that he was definitely consistent. But its up to you to figure out if it’s a kind of consistency you're going to like. The stories here run the gamut, if the gamut only included "the sort of near future" and often are based around worlds that either a) a trend that worries Doctorow has run amok or b) are missing ideas of his that would make that world better, at least until that idea gets introduced. If that suggests to you that he's presenting essays disguised as stories, its not quite that bad since they have characters and plot (in other words, not "Atlas Shrugged") but because the story often assumes that we're going to find the core ideas as fascinating as the story itself does that fascination is going to do all the heavy lifting and make the story stand out. Unfortunately, too often it just makes you wish there was more story, or at least a better one. The first tale "Printcrime" is a micro story that's about a page or two long and focuses on the impact of 3-D printers on trademarks. Telling an entertaining story about this in thirty pages would probably be tough unless your job is a trademark attorney but with only a very small space it barely makes an impact at all. Let's just say its no "For sale: baby shoes. Never worn." "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" is the first proper story, basically telling the tale of the collapse of civilization and how its saved by your local IT department, how the Internet forms into different factions and eventually how a government of sorts reconstructs itself, probably along lines that Doctorow would find more palatable. Weirdly as much as the last story was too short to leave an impression, this one probably should have been longer for the type of story its trying to tell, never really conveying the horror of what appears to be a large population cut (one of the protagonists loses some family and I've grieved more upon finishing the last piece of a particularly tasty pizza) but not really tipping too far into hysterical satire as cyberspace pulls itself back together in the irreverent ways of the Internet we all know and love. Part of this might be because even though it was published in the far off time of the mid-2000s it feels somewhat dated in its mentions of newsgroups and the nature of the Internet itself (in its own way any given day on just about any social media platform is unbelievably more savage, like a game where everyone gets in a double-dutch with a jumprope made of hand grenades). Its not bad, it just feels . . . quaint, less informed by actual dread as much as focused on being a vehicle for the main idea (for my money, minus the computers Hector Oesterheld's Argentine comic strip "The Eternaut" captures more of the mood I was hoping for here, even as it acts as a critique on the political conditions of a country that would cause him to disappear and presumably die). The "story as idea bus" takes center stage in "Anda's Game" as well, one of a series of stories that Doctorow uses to critique and respond to SF classics, in this case Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game". Much like that story, it features a teenager who is good at video games who eventually finds that the boundaries between actions in the video games and actions in real life are a little blurrier than she'd like. This one is okay as well, part of the problem is that Doctorow's prose is routinely pedestrian, existing to move the story along without adding any kind of snap or verve. The story exists to get to Anda's central dilemma as she finds out what the "missions" that her friend Lucy has been recruiting her for are really about but the reveal isn't nearly as severe as the story its patterning itself after and the story doesn't seem as concerned with the consequences of what it reveals so much as Anda's reaction to it and how it teaches her what's most important in life, which felt . . . somewhat underwhelming, like finding out the charity you've been volunteering for has been funneling the money into clubbing seals and that makes you want to ensure you make your bed every morning. In that vein we get to "I, Robot", named of course after the Asimov collection and not the Will Smith movie that figured that what Asimov stories really needed were action sequences featuring murderous robots (in all fairness, an action scene every so often would have been a nice change of pace). Here Doctorow seems to want to cram in every influence he can, using Asimov's works as a starting point but then seemingly cramming it into the Orwellian "1984" world that's always at war with Eurasia as a driven job searches for his runaway daughter (whose middle name is ha-ha literally "trouble") with the help of some really polite robots. What's supposed to feel like a studied critique often comes across as a pastiche and thus kind of weightless, especially when he does the Doctorow thing of pulling the curtain back and revealing that a perfect world exists that coincidentally has implemented all his ideas on the freedom of information, which makes it feel less like a story and more like wish fulfillment. Even with that its still light-years better as a story than "I, Row-Boat" which I guess is another critique coming in from a different angle but feels at times like it was translated into another language and then translated back by someone who hasn't slept in a week. As best I can tell it deals with a robot boat named Robbie who runs into a human that has downloaded herself into another body and then is arguing with a guy downloaded into a different body, all the while fighting off a sentient cybernetic coral reef that is bent on killing everyone. That sounds like it should be fun but for some reason comes across as unbearably tedious, not serious enough to be engaging but not funny enough to be gut-busting, instead just existing until its over. When you're finding your sympathies lying with the coral reef, its probably not a good sign. Fortunately he does end on a somewhat high note, with "After the Siege" based around his grandmother's experiences in the Siege of Leningrad (spoiler alert: they weren't good) but set in an unnamed country in the near future that has been sealed off from the world and has to fend for itself. Featuring another teenage protagonist, Valentine learns to grow up quickly as her parents are sucked into the war and it goes on and on without any seeming end to the misery. While most of Doctorow's stories in this volume left me cold as whether I should care or not about anyone in the story, given some room to stretch out here he manages to blend his grandmother's memories into a story about a girl whose world is falling apart and has to reconstruct herself in the process even as everything she loves is stripped away from her bit by bit. If it falters its in the usual place where Doctorow tries to slip in his ideas on copyright and patent laws (exemplified in a mysterious character who keeps managing to help Valentine out when things are dire, which is often) . . . the ideas themselves are worth debating but there's no real debate going on here other than to use the story to self-evidently prove their worth by showing an extreme alternative. The problem is, and maybe the problem with all these stories, is that it shows the world as it is in the story to be paper-thin, existing only as far as the underlying ideas inhabit them. All fiction in a way exists in its own bubble but the best writers make those worlds, no matter how outlandish, feel vital, places where people break a sweat, love, despair, see it in a way we can't from our vantage and still manage to convey the view. Doctorow's stories, at least here, are so intent on getting us to the text of the subtext that we don't see the colors of the world itself so much as a steady stream of black and white text. Its an experience perhaps meant to be more cerebral than passionate but more often it feels like that Werner Herzog film where all the actors were entranced, only instead of their lines they're reading white papers to each other. Maybe if you're lucky you'll learn something in the process, but chances are you're going to feel as numb as they come across.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    I spent a lot of time today, once I wandered over there somehow, on Cory Doctorow's site, looking at his opinions and downloading his books and thinking about it all. I decided I'd read Overclocked, since it's short stories and I didn't feel like reading anything long and drawn out. Of course, the short stories added up to more or less the same amount of reading time, but oh well. There's six of them. I liked the first one, which is more or less microfiction -- I liked the end, anyway, and the co I spent a lot of time today, once I wandered over there somehow, on Cory Doctorow's site, looking at his opinions and downloading his books and thinking about it all. I decided I'd read Overclocked, since it's short stories and I didn't feel like reading anything long and drawn out. Of course, the short stories added up to more or less the same amount of reading time, but oh well. There's six of them. I liked the first one, which is more or less microfiction -- I liked the end, anyway, and the concept. I'd have wound it tighter, hit harder, but I like the idea. When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth made me laugh in places. I felt like it was a little dry in places where it could have been heart-rending, and skipped where it could have been interesting and got drawn out where it wasn't. Probably my least favourite of the six. Anda's Game was quite interesting. The extra detail of Anda's life seemed a little dry, at times: it didn't live in my head, I couldn't really sympathise. I wish I had, it could have been awesome. Next up, I, Robot. I liked this one a lot: it was a world I could get interested in and characters I could get somewhat invested in. I'd have liked more of it. I, Rowboat made me laugh a good bit, at the start. I like the references to Asimov and the use of the three laws of robotics here. I also liked the introduction: "If I return to this theme, it will be with a story about uplifted cheese sandwiches, called “I, Rarebit”." And After The Siege... I possibly liked the best. The version I downloaded was badly edited -- I don't know about all versions ever -- and there was some confusing name switching for some reason. But I liked the ideas, although again I felt like some of the emotional life of the story fell flat. Definitely interesting, and worth spending the time with, but I probably won't revisit it. It feels very focused on the points Cory Doctorow's trying to get across, rather than the lives of his characters, but his ideas are interesting nonetheless. I did like that it's accessible speculative fiction -- no impenetrable technobabble.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    I really, really liked this collection of science fiction. I should probably rate it a five-star, but I'm afraid I'll turn into a fiver or something, and give the books I read nothing but ratings of five and four will turn into an insult and that would just make me feel like a fool. Kind of like the way this review is doing. So, about Overclocked: I don't always like sci-fi books; I tend more towards the "fantasy" portion of the (somewhat illogical) "sci-fi/fantasy" genre pairing in the library. I really, really liked this collection of science fiction. I should probably rate it a five-star, but I'm afraid I'll turn into a fiver or something, and give the books I read nothing but ratings of five and four will turn into an insult and that would just make me feel like a fool. Kind of like the way this review is doing. So, about Overclocked: I don't always like sci-fi books; I tend more towards the "fantasy" portion of the (somewhat illogical) "sci-fi/fantasy" genre pairing in the library. But Doctorow doesn't leave me feeling like I don't know what's going on, like some sci-fi does. Even though I know there were phrases he used in his stories, especially acronyms in "When SysAdmins Ruled the Earth", I got the point, and I didn't care if I didn't know exactly what everything meant. I spent two of my three hours of break yesterday reading these stories, and at no point did I feel like my brain was being beat into a pulpy mush by all the brainiac science stuff being thrown at it. I did, on occasion, stop and think of how much research Doctorow must have done to understand all the stuff he's writing about (again, especially the sysadmins story). But really, it probably doesn't feel like research to him, 'cause who would learn that much about this kind of stuff if it didn't interest them?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ted Fristrom

    Each year, Drexel requires students to read one book together as a campus, and this year's book was Cory Doctorow's Overclocked. I was pleasantly surprised that this year's read was short stories, a fast read, and by someone who has invested a fair amount of time and effort into thinking about intellectual property issues. The stories that stood out to me were "When Sysadmins Rule the Earth," "Anda's Game" and "I, Robot". The latter are interesting because they are neither really rewrites or par Each year, Drexel requires students to read one book together as a campus, and this year's book was Cory Doctorow's Overclocked. I was pleasantly surprised that this year's read was short stories, a fast read, and by someone who has invested a fair amount of time and effort into thinking about intellectual property issues. The stories that stood out to me were "When Sysadmins Rule the Earth," "Anda's Game" and "I, Robot". The latter are interesting because they are neither really rewrites or parodies of Ender's game and I, Robot. (Though "I, Rowbot," another story in the collection came pretty close). They strike me as simply doing what much science fiction does, borrows fairly broadly from conventions and story ideas of other authors, but with the assumption that its never apropos to reproduce something in its entirety. You have to make it new, and Doctorow does that, he's just more specific in identifying what author he's tipping his hat to. He also distributes his work online for free . Who knows? Maybe he'll be to science fiction what Linus Torvald was to operating systems.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bookmarks Magazine

    Overclocked bears witness to Cory Doctorow's strong presence on the Internet and immersion in that subculture. With the stories (all previously published) set in the near future, the collection lends a terrifying "what if" quality to our present. Doctorow's intimate knowledge of the techno-cyberculture gives his stories more credibility than a casual reader might think: it doesn't take a hardcore SF fan to believe that zombies, invisible ants, a 3D-printer world, video-game sweatshops, and globa Overclocked bears witness to Cory Doctorow's strong presence on the Internet and immersion in that subculture. With the stories (all previously published) set in the near future, the collection lends a terrifying "what if" quality to our present. Doctorow's intimate knowledge of the techno-cyberculture gives his stories more credibility than a casual reader might think: it doesn't take a hardcore SF fan to believe that zombies, invisible ants, a 3D-printer world, video-game sweatshops, and global catastrophe may be lurking just around the corner. Most critics agree that "After the Siege" is the best of the collection, but all of the tales contain provocative scenarios and believable, nonconformist protagonists. Smart, entertaining, and at the vanguard of the genre, "Doctorow is rapidly emerging as the William Gibson of his generation" (Entertainment Weekly). This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ruby Tombstone [With A Vengeance]

    Overclocked, so far, is like most of Doctorow's work: some good ideas, some patchy writing and a lot of boyish enthusiasm. The first story (Printcrime) was a miss for me - overly simplistic and soapboxy. The second story (When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth) Is better, but meanders quite a bit, and reads like an inside joke much of the time. The first story was about a dozen pages long, the second is over 170 pages. I just wish he'd fall into some kind of consistency as a writer, and work on some of Overclocked, so far, is like most of Doctorow's work: some good ideas, some patchy writing and a lot of boyish enthusiasm. The first story (Printcrime) was a miss for me - overly simplistic and soapboxy. The second story (When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth) Is better, but meanders quite a bit, and reads like an inside joke much of the time. The first story was about a dozen pages long, the second is over 170 pages. I just wish he'd fall into some kind of consistency as a writer, and work on some of the more technical skills, like structure. The lack of any sense of cultural relativity in Doctorow's work is starting to annoy me, particularly given his strident views on "open culture". I get the sense that he's not aware of his audience, that he is writing under the assumption that anyone reading will have the same cultural, social and geographical background as himself. In Sysadmins, there are references to San Francisco, and techie in-jokes that nobody outside these spheres could possibly decipher. Anyway - I'll reserve my rating until the end of the book...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Scifi short story collection with a social conscience. The first two stories in the collection seemed the weakest: "Printcrime" a mere two pages and a bit gimmicky, and "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" relied too much on geeky computer jargon, and that's saying something coming from someone who loves her geeky computer jargon. The rest of the stories were each better than the last, building to a brutal finish in "After the Siege" based on the author's grandmother's experience of the siege of Len Scifi short story collection with a social conscience. The first two stories in the collection seemed the weakest: "Printcrime" a mere two pages and a bit gimmicky, and "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" relied too much on geeky computer jargon, and that's saying something coming from someone who loves her geeky computer jargon. The rest of the stories were each better than the last, building to a brutal finish in "After the Siege" based on the author's grandmother's experience of the siege of Leningrad. Each story references well-known scifi (Anda's Game gives a nod to Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, etc.); said references may be lost on a casual reader of scifi.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I enjoy this so far - one story is if System administrators (Ogre: "NERDDDDS" comes to mind) ruled the world; another is a fun take on the realities of online gaming (poor countries actually hire people to churn boring quests, etc. in a game to get in-game gold, which they in turn sell for real money online) i've only read a few of the stories so far. I like that he purposely copies/parodies other sci-fi titles - his explanation why is very interesting

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Some of the stories deserved three stars, but not enough of them to bring the star rating up from a 2-star. If you're already a die-hard fan of the author's leanings on intellectual property laws and DRM you will probably enjoy this more than I did. Story I liked best: "Anda's Game" I'll be reading the novel inspired by Anda's Game soon - For the Win. Some of the stories deserved three stars, but not enough of them to bring the star rating up from a 2-star. If you're already a die-hard fan of the author's leanings on intellectual property laws and DRM you will probably enjoy this more than I did. Story I liked best: "Anda's Game" I'll be reading the novel inspired by Anda's Game soon - For the Win.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jack Skillingstead

    Pretty good. I read his first three novels and felt his true believer fervor for file sharing and internet culture, etc. undercut the narrative tension in those books. These short stories are better. I especially liked "I, Row Boat."

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    I’d never heard of Cory Doctorow before this week, but I encountered his name on a list of promising SF authors and looked him up. Amazon obliged my curiosity with a flash sale on one of his collections of short stories, and so I began reading Overclocked. A collection of short pieces ranging from stories to novellas, Overclocked has some fun with SF classics and exploring concepts like intellectual property, 3D printing, robotics, and artificial intelligence. AI is particularly important, with I’d never heard of Cory Doctorow before this week, but I encountered his name on a list of promising SF authors and looked him up. Amazon obliged my curiosity with a flash sale on one of his collections of short stories, and so I began reading Overclocked. A collection of short pieces ranging from stories to novellas, Overclocked has some fun with SF classics and exploring concepts like intellectual property, 3D printing, robotics, and artificial intelligence. AI is particularly important, with several stories using characters who have duplicated their consciousness and downloaded it into other carriers so they could achieve multiple goals simultaneously. Doctorow freely borrows titles and concepts from other SF works, which is not surprising given that he believes strict legal protections of intellectual property smothers creativity and innovation; this belief finds expression in several stories here, particularly "After the Siege". I took an immediate liking to these stories, aided in part by the fact that his best-known novel, Little Brother, is a YA man-vs-state scenario. The stories: "I, Robot" has the most fun with SF classics, throwing both Asimov and Orwell in a blender and creating a world where Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia and both have partially roboticized societies....but the societies in question are very different. It features robots, transferable consciousnesses, and a little futuristic law-enforcement. "When Sys Admins Ruled the Earth". A bioweapon has been released across the northern hemisphere and the world seems to be ending...but a handful of server admins are keeping the Internet up and the hope of recovery alive -- at least as long as the power generators hold out. "Anda's Game" : a young teenager who finds meaning by playing in an elite women-only gaming clan is faced with a dilemma when she discovers a community of young Mexican girls online who are forced to play the game all day doing minor tasks to generate in-game gold, which is then sold for real money online. Taking their plight seriously might mean abandoning her friends... "After the Siege" is easily the longest and darkest, detailing the life of a young woman who is orphaned while her city is besieged by outside powers in retaliation for its open-culture philosophy,The story features an outsider who calls himself a wizard and who -- as the fearful and naive girl is turned by the war into a wary, cynical young woman -- seems ever more suspicious. This story has the same premise as the short piece which opens the collection, "Printcrime", but is enormously expanded. In that one, the police destroy and imprison a man who was using a 3D printer to reproduce copyright-protected goods. "The Man Who Sold the Moon" is a nod to Heinlein, at least in its title. A man forced to look Death in the face encounters a friend who will change his life by dragging him to a Burning Man event, and is enlisted in a project to create a unique robot. When the friend has his own encounter with Death, however, a crowdfunded attempt to realize one of the stricken man's dreams takes readers to the moon. The technical accomplishment drives the story, but a lot of its heart is the three main characters' attempts to find meaning in an all-too mortal life now overshadowed by the threat of cancer. "I, Rowboat". The most speculative of the stories, this features a sentient rowboat programmed with Asimov's Laws of Robotics attempting to protect some human shells (rented out to human consciousnesses who like to relive the days of having flesh and such) from a sentient coral reef. There are plentiful Asimov references here, including a robot religion called Asimovism, and a rogue personality which refers to itself as R. Daneel Olivaw. The amount of consciousnesses being uploaded and downloaded from host to host -- at one point the boat downloads himself into a human shell -- can get confusing, especially when a consciousness has been temporarily cloned. (At one point the rowboat downloads himself into a human shell to effect a rescue, and has a conversation with his rowboat self.) All in all, I most definitely got my .99 cents worth and hope to try Little Brother at some point.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Vinayak Hegde

    This is a collection of short stories/novella based on various technologies themes. They are quite different from one another so I will review them separately. Printcrime - This one deals with copyright and 3d printing technology and reflects Doctorow's ideological view on rebelling against the establishment. Areally short story that is dystopian. After the Siege - This is inspired by Doctorow's grandmother's experiences during the siege of Leningrad. It deals with relationships during the times o This is a collection of short stories/novella based on various technologies themes. They are quite different from one another so I will review them separately. Printcrime - This one deals with copyright and 3d printing technology and reflects Doctorow's ideological view on rebelling against the establishment. Areally short story that is dystopian. After the Siege - This is inspired by Doctorow's grandmother's experiences during the siege of Leningrad. It deals with relationships during the times of war, the futility of war, the plaint voyeuristic media coverage and the weaponization of information. Parts of it seem to be inspired by Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilisations. Probably the darkest of stories. Anda's Game - Another dark story inspired by real-life third-world click-farms. It deals with digital colonialism (of the Mechanical Turk type). It deals with classism in society and it's exploitation in the context of gaming and online gameplay. One person's pleasure and wealth are another person's livelihood and misery. I found it the most interesting of stories. the name of the story is a pun on Enders's Game. When the Sysadmins Ruled the Earth - A self-indulgent story in which bioweapon destroys parts of the earth and the sysadmins are the heroes of the story. The post-apocalyptic world is saved and sustained by the sysadmins. It contains many references to the beginning of the internet and has some parallels is thems to Netflix's BirdBox. I,Robot - The story deals with two warring nations and a family caught between the two. It deals with Asimov's laws and how they can be bent to achieve different outcomes. It is also an exploration of what it means to be a robot and the boundaries between a human and a robot. I,RowBoat - A sentient reef comes to life and wars with human civilization. A flight of fancy exploring Asimov's law and anthropomorphism of the earth during the age of climate change. T also explores what it means to be a Robot and Asimovism (Asimov's three laws of robotics). I did not enjoy this tory too much as the writing fels too muddled as I had to reread passages to make sense of them.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jabriol

    I have read from this Author before. And I really don't have any complaints. Some of the stories are good and this book and some of them to be honest I did not waste my time with it. I am very particular when it comes to hardcore science fiction. Out of the stories in this book I liked: " when sysadmins Ruled the Earth"; " I, Robot". I've already have written about the first one. The second one has the same title as one of Isaac Asimov's novels or short stories. In the book, he gives an explanati I have read from this Author before. And I really don't have any complaints. Some of the stories are good and this book and some of them to be honest I did not waste my time with it. I am very particular when it comes to hardcore science fiction. Out of the stories in this book I liked: " when sysadmins Ruled the Earth"; " I, Robot". I've already have written about the first one. The second one has the same title as one of Isaac Asimov's novels or short stories. In the book, he gives an explanation of why he picked this type and he follows Asimov three laws of robotics. It is entertaining and it has a twist. But I'm not going to spoil it for you I will talk about the technology. Part of the story has to do with a subject that I have always been interested in. This is because of my background as a JW I will not discuss theology here, but it is sufficient to say that we have a belief that when we die our memory is conserved. Many know me to be extremely oriented into the Sciences, in my opinion, if you cease to exist even if your memories are conserved and placed in another body that individual is just a copy, not the original. In the book, you see a person upload her memory into special storage and this specialized computer can make many copies of the same individual that can work together with other copies of the same person if one of the copy dies, no big deal, other copies are out there. Give that a thought. Anyway that is my review for the book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This collects six of Doctorow's stories, and it's a rather uneven collection. I read digital versions I'd downloaded from one of the places Doctorow sometimes offers his work for free under the Creative Commons license. 1) After the Siege - 1 star - I didn't like it much. I understand that he wanted to honor his Grandmother and the siege of St. Petersburg. But squeezing a “rich country copyright & patent laws” polemic and a focus on the greed of the companies in the developed world meant it just This collects six of Doctorow's stories, and it's a rather uneven collection. I read digital versions I'd downloaded from one of the places Doctorow sometimes offers his work for free under the Creative Commons license. 1) After the Siege - 1 star - I didn't like it much. I understand that he wanted to honor his Grandmother and the siege of St. Petersburg. But squeezing a “rich country copyright & patent laws” polemic and a focus on the greed of the companies in the developed world meant it just didn't work for me. I never did quite understand how hardened logic ore the infowar worked, nor how it was possible for absolutely everything to be digitally created and controlled by the ownership of data. And this version had annoying editing errors - like two characters whose names appeared to shift in the middle, and a coat that hadn't been there but then was. 2) I, Robot - 2 stars - ok, not great 3) I, Rowboat - 3 stars - I liked it, but there was a lot I had to gloss over because I just didn’t understand it. 4) Printcrime - 3 stars - very short. What does a man who's just spent 10 years in jail for illegal 3D printing plan to do when he gets out? 5) When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth - 4 stars - I like the idea that when the rest of the world crumbles, it's the internet that will still keep going. 6) Anda's Game - 4 stars - a story of "information technology - and its various uses - run amok," where people in sweatshops play games to earn their livelihood

  23. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

    An interesting series of short sci-fi stories. Only 3 stars due to the soapbox and biased agenda present. One story was about an apocalyptic future where most of the human population is destroyed with bombs and bio weapons. Some of the people who survive are the people who are responsible for keeping the servers and infrastructure for the internet working - system administrators. They are able to communicate with others located geographically far away through the internet. One story was about a An interesting series of short sci-fi stories. Only 3 stars due to the soapbox and biased agenda present. One story was about an apocalyptic future where most of the human population is destroyed with bombs and bio weapons. Some of the people who survive are the people who are responsible for keeping the servers and infrastructure for the internet working - system administrators. They are able to communicate with others located geographically far away through the internet. One story was about a girl who lives in a world with zombies during a siege of her city. One story was about a girl who plays in a virtual video game world. She starts getting paid real money to kill certain people in the video game. She comes to learn that the characters she is killing are people who are earning low wages to generate in-game wealth for other people. One story takes place in the south pacific where a boat is the main character. Humans can download themselves into fake bodies to go on vacation. One story is all about 3D printing and in this world only certain people can print and resources are kept scarce on purpose.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Faber

    Probably closer to 3.5 stars than 4, but we'll round up. Doctorow's stories are often entertaining, and he gets the technology details down extremely well, but he's not entirely a natural storyteller. "Sysadmins" is enough of an inside job to work well, and both "I, Robot" and "I, Rowboat" hit a bunch of neat points on self, consciousness, and robotics, kind of like Stanislaw Lem-lite without his full array of narrative gifts. The Siege is a bit more story than Doctorow can really manage, and An Probably closer to 3.5 stars than 4, but we'll round up. Doctorow's stories are often entertaining, and he gets the technology details down extremely well, but he's not entirely a natural storyteller. "Sysadmins" is enough of an inside job to work well, and both "I, Robot" and "I, Rowboat" hit a bunch of neat points on self, consciousness, and robotics, kind of like Stanislaw Lem-lite without his full array of narrative gifts. The Siege is a bit more story than Doctorow can really manage, and Anda's Game is either too prescient or too mundane for its own good -- it reads more like general fiction than sci-fi, too possible for its own good.Basically, the kind of story collection you are glad to have read, though maybe a bit underwhelming from a blogger who wears a red cape and writes from a hot-air balloon...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    this is a really good book, i enjoyed reading it, even if i dont really get the asimov references. i havent read much scifi before, and my friend recommended this book to me as an example of scifi that doesn't leave you depressed and saddened by humanity. and he's right, this is (for the most part) hopeful scifi. didn't much care for when sysadmins rule the earth or i, robot. my favourite was anda's game, the ending is uplifting and made me smile. printcrime was short and sweet and funny, i, row this is a really good book, i enjoyed reading it, even if i dont really get the asimov references. i havent read much scifi before, and my friend recommended this book to me as an example of scifi that doesn't leave you depressed and saddened by humanity. and he's right, this is (for the most part) hopeful scifi. didn't much care for when sysadmins rule the earth or i, robot. my favourite was anda's game, the ending is uplifting and made me smile. printcrime was short and sweet and funny, i, rowboat about a sentient rowboat was a really enthralling look at the three laws of robotics, and after the siege was a very heavy read (but also, ultimately uplifting. but also, i need to lie down now.) good book thanks jom

  26. 5 out of 5

    Peterh

    Rankings of the individual stories Printcrime: 2/5 When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth: 0/5 Anda's Game: 3.5/5 I, Robot: 3/5 I, Row-Boat: 4/5 After the Siege: 1.5/5 The whole anthology is basically about how 3D printers are going to save the world if intellectual property laws and the capitalists who wield them don't destroy it first. The prose isn't very good, and some of the stories have no plot. I like Doctorow's feminism and his optimism but they weren't enough to save this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne Kern McClintock

    Collection of short stories, some better than others. I recognized most of the places in Toronto, and could see zombies attacking there. I could see bored school children. I was amused by the parody of Ender's Game, and the 2 parodies of I, Robot. The final story is a fictionalized/ fantasy story about how the author's grandparent's met. I liked the short paragraphs at the beginning of each story, explaining where he got the ideas.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Keith Blodgett

    A variety of stories from a very talented but often depressing author. The future Doctorow paints is bleak and terrifying. As with any story collection some shine brighter than others. 'After the Siege' was dark but satisfying. Dystopia with and ending worth getting to. 'The Man Who Sold the Moon' was probably the brightest gem in this collection and at one point brought tears to my eyes. Very much worth reading.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Randal

    3.5 stars I think short fiction is the weakest of the three genres I've read from Doctorow (also novel, essays). They often lack the wit that makes the best short spec-fic And they're occasionally heavyhanded. In the story on the siege, for instance, it really doesn't matter why the war is being fought (proven by the fact he uses details from the siege of Stalingrad) He does have original ideas and they're certainly not cookie-cutters. But while I regularly hand out Little Brother at the library an 3.5 stars I think short fiction is the weakest of the three genres I've read from Doctorow (also novel, essays). They often lack the wit that makes the best short spec-fic And they're occasionally heavyhanded. In the story on the siege, for instance, it really doesn't matter why the war is being fought (proven by the fact he uses details from the siege of Stalingrad) He does have original ideas and they're certainly not cookie-cutters. But while I regularly hand out Little Brother at the library and encourage everyone to follow his nonfiction on technology and freedom, I can't really recommend this to a wide audience.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    Mixed feelings about this book - some disturbing stories and I could not relate to many of them and they felt a bit empty or it just took me a long time to understand the scenario and environment in which they took place. Very imaginative and not the kind of future we want to see though. May they be as a warning!

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