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Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present Paperback – February 1, 2007
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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.
Top customer reviews
I loved this book, not because at some point in his life Doctorow was/is Canadian (if anything, I hold my compatriots to higher standards), but because the stories were fast, funny, and deep. Freaking amazing.
I loved having I, Robot next to I, Row-Boat. It reminds me of dropping a single drop of some bizarre chemical into a series of solutions and then documenting what happens. I think I did that once in high school.
Happily, I can re-read the book, a rare treat for me. Each story struck a high note for me:
Printcrime was a tad odd, but the punch line was worth the overdramatic scene leading up to it.
When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth had me laughing and crying. The tech-talk would have gotten to me, except the love and admiration for a simple cpu brought it all home. An interesting conjunction with or simile for what else was going on.
I loved Anda's Game. I could probably exceed my 300 words on Anda's game alone.
After the Seige was a disturbing addition, but one that I'm glad was included. The insight and the gentle touch mark how important this story is.
I have to go now and get my copy back from my wife who is taking too long reading it.
Here are reviews of the individual stories:
PRINTCRIME ** - Very short story (2.5 pages), that never comes up to speed.
WHEN SYSADMINS RULED THE EARTH ***1/2 (52 pages) - Story of survival from "global terrorism"... lots of interesting and technically-correct usage of computer networking technology as a backdrop to the story.
I, ROBOT *** (58 pages) - Interesting, but hard to follow the author's writing at times.
I, ROWBOAT *** (50 pages) - Semi-amusing story; but, again, you have to work a deciphering the author's writing style... and there is a "slight hint" at "Human-Caused Global Warming" -- herein using the more "politically-correct term du jour" "Climate Change" -- luckily the author doesn't dwell on this nonsense too long (contrary to what most liberal SciFi writers end up making the mistake of doing these days: FORCING this nonsense into their stories, literally come "h*ll or high water").
AFTER THE SIEGE **** (78 pages) - Really quite good story of survival of a young girl caught in a "patriotic city" that finds itself out-gunned and under siege, but defending itself at all cost, in a near-future "trench/techno war".
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.
Cory writes excellent fiction. His short stories are smart and engaging. His novels are a lot quirky and innovative, but still pay homage to the classics of the genre. I can't compare him to Gibson or Sterling or Card or Asimov. He is closest in my mind to Neal Stephenson, because Cory, like Neal, is a techy that knows his stuff. But still Cory doesn't go that route. Cory is his own dude, he doesn't try to copy or be like anybody but himself, and it shows.