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Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present Paperback – February 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From 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 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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press; 1st Printing, Feb. 2007 edition (February 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560259817
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560259817
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Canadian-born Cory Doctorow has held policy positions with Creative Commons and the Electronic Frontier Foundation and been a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Southern California. He is a co-editor of the popular weblog BoingBoing (boingboing.net), which receives over three million visitors a month. His science fiction has won numerous awards, and his YA novel LITTLE BROTHER spent seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Heath Row on February 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
For the last few days, I've been reading Cory Doctorow's new collection of short fiction, Overclocked (Thunder's Mouth Press). It's been one of the first things I've looked forward to in the morning -- reading it while waiting for and riding the subway to work -- and one of the last things I've done each day -- reading it before sleep.

Because the six stories in the book have all been published elsewhere, chances are good that at least one or two will be familiar. Apparently, that's OK, because even though I'd previously read "I, Robot," I caught myself rereading it with glee despite the fact that I knew exactly what was going to happen. It might be the case that -- in Cory's writing, as well as in the future itself -- it's not just what happens... but how it happens. His stuff holds up under the pressure of memory.

But it was one of the stories I haven't previously read that I found the most enjoyable, effective, and affecting. "After the Siege," in part inspired by his grandmother's survival of Hitler's invasion of Stalingrad, is the kind of short story that holds your attention, your imagination, and your affection all at the same time. At times, I'm irritated by how preachy Cory can be in his infopolitics, but in this story, he shows us that his heart is as big as his brain and his hopes for society.

Congratulations, Cory. Each of these stories was an accomplishment in their own right when they were first published, and in book form, they become an accomplishment in the aggregate. And the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Thanks for the good reads -- and rereads.

[..]
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. D. Webber on November 21, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not a bad collection, but sometimes Doctorow's desire to use his fiction to promote his socio-political beliefs gets in the way of his genuine story-telling talent.

This collection included some good material: "After the Siege," the final story in the book, particularly impressed me. But "I, Robot," for example, seemed kind of clunky to me, a kind of "copyright opera."

I think these stories are available for free download under Creative Commons licensing. If you haven't liked some of Doctorow's work in the past, check out the free versions first.

If you are just starting to read Doctorow's work, try "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" or "Eastern Standard Tribe" or "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town" first.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Questor on June 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm not normally a reader of short story collections but I thought I'd give "Over Clocked" a try. On finishing it, I realized why I don't read short story collections.

The problem is, short story collections inevitably end up being like CD's. Sure, there's one, maybe two great tracks on it, a few mediocre tracks and then some that are positively awful. Over Clocked suffers the same malady.

One of the strongest stories is "When Sysadmins ruled the world." An interesting tale that describes how a technologically dependent world gets brought to its knees by rampant worms and viruses and how the system administrators (Sysadmins of the title) may be the only people skilled and tech-savvy enough to fight humanity's corner.

Equally enjoyable is "I robot." Winner of the 2005 Locus award and a finalist for the Hugo and British Science Fiction award in the same year. You'd expect for it to be a good read with those credentials.

Holding the middle ground for the book is "Anda's game" - which will no doubt be a favorite with the gaming readers - and provides a virtual backdrop for the rich minority vs depressed minority scenario to literally be played out once more.

"After the Siege," where the horrors of future war are exploited for entertainment value, also provides food for thought. Whilst Doctorow preface's the story by suggesting it's a commentary on developed nations using strong arm tactics on underdeveloped counterparts, one can't help but think that this story might not also be a poke in the eye to today's news media, given the current state of world affairs.

I enjoyed all of these stories but then that's where I ran into trouble.
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Format: MP3 CD
Overclocked is composed of five Novellas (or long short stories). All are future tales based on high technology affecting society in a catastrophic way. The general feeling of the stories is something like the classic SciFi of the 50s and 60s (Bradbury, Asimov, Dick, etc.), but with distinctly 21st Century themes: alienation, poor vs. rich nations, availability of high tech, terrorism, and post human technology.

Short stories are intriguing for their ability to drop us headlong into the characters and action without the slow development of a book. Doctorow is quite good at this. Within minutes of starting one of the stories, you are immersed in one of his carefully crafted worlds. The characters are unusual and believable.

In After the Siege, the main character is a teenage girl caught in the horrors of prolonged war, all of it tragic because it is so unnecessary and avoidable.

I Row-Boat is a playful twist on Asimov’s famous novel, I Robot. Robbie the Row-Boat has gained consciousness, as have many high-tech devices. He contemplates the meaning of life as he rows tourist human divers around the Australian coral reefs. Too bad for all of them when the billions of processors imbedded into the reef cause it to gain consciousness itself, and it is angry. It is outrageous, inventive and pure fun.

When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth is a terrific story of geeks trapped inside clean rooms as the world disintegrates around them. They, and others like them around the world, survive because they are trapped in the filtered air of the computers they protect and keep running. The Internet limps along as billions die. Of course, email spam lives on. It is a story written with a lot of technical jargon and geekspeak.
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