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The Hugo shortlist is off to a good start for me: Doctorow's teen hero is unfairly arrested by the Department of Homeland Security after a terrorist attack on San Francisco. He then devotes his energies to fighting the system, and also negotiating other hurdles like school and girls. Marcus is rather fortunate in being in the right place at the right time with the right skills, and I felt that the end of the story in real life would certainly have been more ambiguous; also, since the purpose of the book is partly didactic, we get a number of mini-essays on various matters (including the Beat poets) inserted into the text. But it's a good, thrilling read and certainly grist to the mill for any of us worried about the surveillance society.

(Pedantic point: I was puzzled by a reference to the "British High Commission" which clearly should have been to the "British consulate", but my copy is an uncorrected proof so this may have been picked up before publication. Doctorow is Canadian so may not have been aware that most countries don't have High Commissions, just embassies.)


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 28th, 2009 10:45 am (UTC)
I found it both enjoyable and very thought-provoking, although slightly marred by the way that Doctorow rather tries to have his cake and eat it. What I mean by this is that Little Brother is a blatantly didactic novel (indeed, it is an activism manual thinly disguised as a novel) but the hero's youth becomes an excuse for his simplistic and at times rather inaccurate views. At one point, for instance, he berates the UK for not having a constitution at all, which is simply not true. Of course, a teenage American might well think this, but the hero is very much Doctorow's mouthpiece and so we have to assume that what he is saying is what Doctorow is saying.
Mar. 28th, 2009 11:31 am (UTC)
I was put off reading Little Brother by the same element of journalism in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. It seemed too written for his particular audience.
Mar. 28th, 2009 12:21 pm (UTC)
I thought Spook Country was a good read on surveillance society. Of course, the news article that the UK wants to trace every email, chat, and MySpace/Facebook comment that anyone makes was far scarier. What do you do with the "if you're not with us, you're supporting terrorism" attitude?
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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