From Publishers Weekly
An unabashed promulgator of the Internet and its democratic potential, Doctorow (Eastern Standard Tribe
) explores the benefits and consequences of online systems in this provocative collection of six mostly long stories. "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" is a moving chronicle of a widely dispersed network of techno-geeks laboring to keep the World Wide Web running as an epitaph to an earth devastated by a bioweapon apocalypse. In "After the Siege"—the bleak chronicle of a modern siege of Stalingrad—the horrors of war become fodder for a documentary film crew's reality-based entertainment. Two tales riff on classic SF themes: "I, Robot," in which Isaac Asimov's positronic bots are cogs in a dysfunctional future totalitarian state, and "Anda's Game," a brilliant homage to Orson Scott Card's Ender's saga, in which a role-playing enthusiast finds herself immersed in a surprisingly real world of class warfare fought online by avatars of game players. Most "meat"-minded readers will find much to savor. (Feb.)
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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
). Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.