I was first introduced to Cory Doctorow’s books when I picked up the young adult novel Little Brother, which is a kind of counter-culture, grass-rootsI was first introduced to Cory Doctorow’s books when I picked up the young adult novel Little Brother, which is a kind of counter-culture, grass-roots, cyber-terrorism sort of story, and I loved it. With those descriptive terms, what’s not to love?
Anywho, when I went to the American Library Association national conference in Washington, D.C. this summer I attended a sci-fi panel that Cory Doctorow was on. Besides being cute in a nerdy way, Doctorow was entertaining and interesting in his discussions of all things sci-fi and technology. (Side note: I don’t really think of his writings as SciFi, so don’t let that scare you off.)
I got a grab bag of books of the newest books of all the authors on the panel including Doctorow’s latest, For the Win. The book follows a revolution of youth as they fight back against the companies they work for – online multi-player games owned by the Coca Cola Company — that bring in big money for everyone except the workers; children and teens working mainly in India and China. Led by the mysterious Big Sister Nor, a cyber union called the Webblies forms and begins to bring about change in both the online worlds and the real world sweat shops to which they are so closely linked.
Doctorow weaves the story bringing together the most unlikely of characters; Mala, a born leader growing up on the streets of Dharvi, India, Leonard; a privileged Orange County teen who loves everything Chinese, and a beautiful young woman turned radio personality trying to help mobilize girls working in the sweat shops.
Because Doctorow is such a lover of all things open-source and a self-proclaimed “technology activist,” his book is actually available for free download, so there’s nothing to stop you from reading it right this second....more
(Please note, there are semi-spoilers in this write-up. Ishiguro’s style of writing leaves the story hazy until close to the end, so only in retrospec(Please note, there are semi-spoilers in this write-up. Ishiguro’s style of writing leaves the story hazy until close to the end, so only in retrospect does the reader really understand the scope of the narrative.)
You’ve probably heard of this book, if only because it’s coming out as a movie starring Keira Knightly (and other people I don’t know) today. However, before you run off to the movie theatre, read the book. As a general rule, always read the book before you watch the movie. It’s just better that way.
The only other book I’ve read by Japanese-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro is An Artist of the Floating World, which is about post World War II Japanese society. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t a book that kept me on the edge of my seat, or that I thought about much after I finished.
Never Let Me Go is a completely different type of novel – an alternate reality set in dystopian Britain. Narrator Kathy weaves the story of her childhood and adolescence, set at a boarding school named after its location (the town of Hailsham in East Sussex, England) and that of her adult life, as she becomes a “carer;” someone who supports those whose organs are being harvested for transplants.
The true story of her upbringing is gradually revealed; Kathy and the other Hailsham students are all clones, raised for the sole purpose of eventually donating their organs to those in need of them. Hailsham was an experiment for a new type of school, one that encouraged the clones to show their aptitude in art in order to prove that they had souls and were thus more than just objects created for harvesting body parts.
Despite the copious artwork the students produced during their time at Hailsham, society never truly accepted them as humans and Kathy watched one after another of her old school friends “complete,” as they gave their last available organs to those with undeniable souls.
This book is a page-turner, and one that I kept thinking about after I had finished it....more