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The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (Outspoken Authors) Paperback – November 1, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Doctorow is a highly respected blogger (as coeditor of Boing Boing), a journalist, and a tireless advocate for the open-source movement to allow greater freedom to distribute content on the web, in such areas as digital-rights management and file sharing. He is also an award-winning writer of contemporary science fiction. In this bleak yet vibrantly populated novella (part of the PM Press Outspoken Authors series), Doctorow takes readers into the futuristic wasteland of Detroit, a “toxic post-Disney dystopia” where a wumpus-hunting Jimmy Yensid, a transhuman teenager, must choose between immortality and sex with Lacey Treehugger, the forbidden meat girl of his fantasies. This slim yet thought-provoking volume, which is available online as a free download via a Creative Commons license, will have Doctorow’s hard-core fans buzzing, but it may be a bit too dark and dense for the casual sci-fi reader. A transcript of his “Creativity vs. Copyright” address to the 2010 World Science Fiction Convention and a lively interview with the outspoken author are also included. --Chris Keech


"Doctorow shows us life from the point-of-view of the plugged-in generation and makes it feel like a totally alien world."  —Montreal Gazette

"One of the genre's fresh new talents, one of the few who seamlessly mixes the future with the bizarre."  —Rocky Mountain News

"Utterly contemporary and deeply peculiar—a hard combination to beat (or, these days, to find)."  William Gibson, author, Neuromancer

"Doctorow uses science fiction as a kind of cultural WD-40, loosening hinges and dissolving adhesions to peer into some of society's unlighted corners."  —New York Times

"For fans of Cory Doctorow, reading The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow will be a no-brainer. Grim as it is, it's also as thought-provoking as anything he's written. . . . This is a lovely little book in every respect, from its stylish design to its phenomenal content." —www.tor.com (November 2011)

"Doctorow's prose is precise and perceptive. His vision of the future, although gritty, is an entertaining and thought provoking reflection of our present." —www.CityBookReview.com

"The multi-layered ironies in Doctorow's writing are rich and wonderful . . . about as sharp a scalpel as an author can create." —www.wired.com
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Product Details

  • Series: Outspoken Authors (Book 8)
  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: PM Press; Original edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604864044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604864045
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.4 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,041,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stefan VINE VOICE on November 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
When we meet Jimmy Yensid, the hero of Cory Doctorow's new novella The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, he is aboard his giant mecha and hunting down a wumpus in the abandoned city of Detroit, until he comes under attack from a rival group of mechas. The resulting action scene is spectacular -- and really made me want to dig out my ancient Mechwarrior games -- but as you'd expect from Doctorow, there's much more going on than meets the eye.

Jimmy is a transhuman boy, genetically engineered to be as close to immortal as you can get. The wumpuses are ravenous mechanical monsters who consume any non-organic matter they find and recycle it into arable soil. Meanwhile, Jimmy's father is actually trying to preserve Detroit, the last standing city in the United States, as a historical artifact.

The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow is the latest installment in the wonderful Outspoken Authors series by PM Press. In addition to the title novella, the book also contains the text of Cory's "Creativity vs. Copyright" address to the 2010 World Science Fiction Convention, and a scintillating interview conducted by Terry Bisson. I don't use the word "scintillating" very often: this really is an excellent, informative, fun conversation between two sparkling minds, and its inclusion adds considerable value to the book. The main course, however, is of course the grim but wonderful title novella.

The central theme Doctorow is playing with throughout The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow is progress, or maybe more exactly, progress versus change. As Jimmy puts it: "[...] we didn't have "progress" anymore. We'd outgrown progress. What we had was change.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow is a brief read that contains three parts - it begins with the titular story, and continues with an address on modern copyright, and concludes with an interview with Terry Bisson. I have mixed feelings on the text, and thought that perhaps individual reviews culminating in the final score makes the most sense as the texts are so different.

Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow - 3 out of 5 stars
To begin, I love the Carousel of Progress - the ride that the story that is central to the piece. My favorite ride that I was ever on was when I went to Disney as an adult and the carousel got stuck about ¾ of the way through. It was an incredible experience - being stuck on the carousel of progress near the conclusion, and being unable to get off. We sat in the dark as the family of tomorrow repeated their final moments over and over and over again, the oven exploded over and over and over again, and the droning of the song, over and over and over again. It was both the most perfect nightmare and the most beautiful irony I have ever experienced in my life. It was amazing.

Of course, I picked the book up because I know about Doctorow, and wanted to see what he did with a story surrounding this iconic American institution. Frankly, I loved it, except for one major element and that is the heavy handed science fiction action sequences that seemed to be overbearing and leave too much to the imagination. As someone who likes the genre and only likes to read the pieces with subtle elements (there are a lot, but think Solaris, IQ84, and others) and allow the characters to drive the narrative. The action sequences were off-putting to me, and really were vague and elementally flat.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This was an amazing story. It focuses on a main character, Jimmy, who you find out very early on is genetically immortal. Split into 4 parts, but reads as 3 with an quick epilogue, it follows Jimmy through some key events in his life with 20+ year gaps between - ah the perks of being immortal. It is set in a far future, with Jimmy living in the ruins of Detroit with his father who has preserved it for a museum, a homage of the olden days. Throughout the story he deals with quite a few heavy topics; besides the obvious moral grounds of being genetically altered, Jimmy has to deal with growing so slowly because of it. For over twenty years Jimmy has to deal with being prepubescent, which becomes very frustrating. Doctorow handles the subject matter cleanly, but does not hide from it, which made it all the more enticing to read. Being so short, it is hard not to give much away, but as good as the story was, the writing itself was better. Doctorow is very talented, be it by nature or nurture I wish I knew so I could steal his superpower. The way his work flows and the style of his descriptions was phenomenal. It made it quite difficult to set the book down at times. Even if you're not a fan of the genre, I would recommend the book based on the writing alone.
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I generally like Cory's writing very much and was pleased to be able to buy this ebook on Amazon. The essays are insightful and important, but this is a review of "The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow."

This is an original and imaginative view on the post apocalyptic genre. It's an interesting world with intriguing features that are not well explored. The story felt rushed and the ending was abrupt. It has the makings of a very interesting work, but turns out to be very disappointing.

I will look for more from Mr. Doctorow with very high expectations, as always, and hope not to be so disappointed next time.
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