Trish's Reviews > Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present

Overclocked by Cory Doctorow
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Dec 01, 07

Read in August, 2007

Cory Doctorow's stories generally have a message, a techno-moral. Something about open-source software, or digital file sharing. This collection is not without strong opinions, but it mixes in more full developed characters and more layered plots.

"When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth": When global disaster strikes, some of the last people left alive are the sysadmins who were called from their beds in the middle of the night to tend the global nodes off the Net. What will they do to stay alive and to rebuild their world?

"Anda's Game": I read this when it was included in "The Best American Short Stories 2005". Chubby tween Anda gets involved in online gaming, which builds her self-esteem but also enmeshes her in some real-world economics.

"I, Robot": I read this online when it was first written and didn't like the ending, so I skipped it this time around. Doctorow creates two rival systems of robotics (rather than economics)--an authoritarian state that tries to control information and technology development, and a sort of "free market" state where scientists are free to design powerful robots that lack the Three Laws and where people clone multiple copies of themselves. It's the cloning that throws me. I have trouble accepting that as the "happy ending."

"I, Row-Boat": What becomes of sentient robots when humanity abandons the planet in order to live as free-floating intelligence in the ether? One little row boat keeps ferrying diving excurhsions (the free-floating intelligences sometimes want to experience the flesh, so they download into empty human shells). Experiences with an AI-human lovers' quarrel and a coral reef that recently attained consciousness rock Robbie's religious beliefs.

"After the Siege": The techno-moral here is about intellectual property as a tool of oppression, but if you skipped Doctorow's introduction and just read the story, you might be able to concentrate on a harrowing story of what a girl will do to survive in wartime. Definitely the highlight of the collection.
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Glenn Murphy I didn't really care for the end of "I, Robot" either. "After the Siege" was my favorite of the collection, but I think I would have preferred a more conventional disease to the use of zombies in parts of the story.


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