I’ve finally read the book that everyone’s been recommending – Little Brother, Cory Doctorow’s tale of teenage computer hackers fighting back against a Homeland Security takeover of San Francisco in the wake of a 9/11-style terrorist bombing. (Buy it or get it free online. How can the author make money when he gives the book away for free? Doctorow explains.)
This is a great book for anyone who likes liberty, or computers, or geek culture, or San Francisco (and if you don’t like those things, hey, you’re the enemy anyway); the book is in part a love letter to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, for which Doctorow once served as European Affairs Coordinator. Perhaps the best recommendation for the book is this pair of reviews on Amazon – one by some state-worshipping bozo:
I should not be surprised that a book dripping with liberal bias and spin is being marketed to children but I find that I am. … The fact that an author would write a book about undermining the United States government and in sense acting like terrorists because you’re being tracked or photographed is disturbing to say the least. One character in Little Brother refers to America as “Gulag America” and this did nothing more than to enforce that the author has no shame. To compare the U.S to a Gulag is despicable.
And one not:
[G]et copies of this book into the hands of your younger siblings, your children, your young friends, and anyone else you know who has yet to be crushed into conformity by the pressures of corporate life, family, and years of kneeling before The Man. You might just save them, and the world.
My only real quarrel with Little Brother is its ending: after spending a whole book celebrating insurrection and encouraging the reader to view all authority as damage to be routed around, Doctorow ends by urging us to, wait for it, get our nonvoting friends to vote. For a book that starts off with a bang (literally), this seems like a cop-out. And despite engaging in counter-economics and occasionally hanging out in an anarchist bookstore, the book’s protagonists never entertain any ideology more radical than “Constitutional rights are absolute.” Someone really needs to write a novel like this, only with an explicitly agorist/anarchist message – a kind of cross between Little Brother and Alongside Night.