Saturday, August 9, 2008

Little Brother & The End Times


I've been fighting with the words for a review of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother since Tuesday evening when I finished reading it. My own life events and the news over the last few days however has been conspiring against me.

Sometimes the simplest explanation is best - It's one of the best damn books I've read.

I'd make Little Brother required reading in high school. Conservative jackasses and Christian fundmentalist nutjobs would have protests on the high school lawn over my class assignment. They'd accuse me and Doctorow of trying to indoctrinate children into being radical anarchists, aiding terrorists, and Hating America. Ann Coulter would claim that if any citizen needed rendition to Saudi Arabia, it'd be me. Christians would particularly decry the linking of their religious beliefs to torture by the state, condemn the mild descriptions of sex, and claim that the bad language would corrupt any child reading it. Someone would start a school board campaign in reaction so subversives could be removed from our schools. Someone would burn the principal in effigy on the front lawn. And then someone would throw a bomb.

The reason I know this is that these things happen in the book. And they're so plausible because we've seen similar books - Huckleberry Finn for instance - banned for far less.

Doctorow writes of a time not now, but close to now, where terrorism introduces an atmosphere where Americans again choose to sacrifice their rights for security, except for one teenager and some of his friends who decide to fight the system. While the author has meticulously laid out how the events in the book could happen, his characters and story have are exceptionally tight and realistic. Until now, I had been only a fan of Cory's nonfiction writing to boingboing.net and Make magazine, but this book is causing me to reconsider my earlier assumptions.

And even better yet - you can get Little Brother for free. Yes, free, Paradox. Hell, I'll gladly give my hardback copy to anyone who wants it.

Once you read it, you will marvel how much is already happening (h/t to Chez), and how much is waiting to come true. Little Brother rightly draws on some of the concepts for The Shock Doctrine, but instead of talking in broad terms about disaster capitalism, it focuses on what exactly is likely to happen one city in another time of American panic.

3 comments:

iamcoyote said...

Okay, okay, you talked me into it. Now, I just have to find a copy of "The Watchmen," since it's on my list as well.

Seven of Six said...

I better get my son reading this. Never know if McLame will take office...

jeff dinelli said...

ESSENTIAL READING!!!