3 Sept 2016

We Can(ada) Read: Em from Piplup's Shadow discussing Cory Doctorow!

We Can(ada) Read is by Canadianfor EVERYONE to learn more about some amazing Canadian authors! We have 16 Canadian bloggers highlighting 16 Canadian authors plus you can hear about what it's like to live in Canada and write CanLit from 8 Canadian authors, most of which are 2016 debuts! For a full schedule of events during We Can(ada) Read, please click HERE!

Just your friendly neighbourhood penguin-lover, Em is a Canadian teen book blogger who loves crying over fictional characters and perhaps even drawing them from time to time. In between school and sports, you can find Em reading a good book or two… or perhaps binging a new season of anime. Whoops. 

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Cory Doctorow is an amazing Canadian author, activist, journalist, and blogger. While he may not always use places in Canada as the settings in his fictional stories, the brilliance of his ideas and morals on paper show how awesome Canadians can be! (Or well, part Canadians since his bio says he’s British Canadian lol.)

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Cory Doctorow started writing and publishing works of fiction at the age of 17 with “Craphound” being his debut. Since then, he has written over 150 distinct published works and has won several awards for many of his fiction novels.

In addition to his work as an author, Cory Doctorow is well known for his ideas and activism on liberalising copyright laws and file-sharing which he writes about on his blog “Boing Boing” and in newspaper and magazine columns. In fact, most of his fiction works also deal with these sort of topics; computers and human rights concerning the usage of them.

His first Young Adult novel, “Little Brother” (published in 2008), dealt a lot with his beliefs opposing digital rights management and the topic of security and one’s right to privacy. This book is about a Marcus, who goes by the online alias “w1n5t0n,” in the aftermath of a terrorist attack where he and his friends were in the wrong place at the wrong time and wrongfully taken in by Homeland for interrogation. As a computer whiz and fast thinker, he manages to get released and uses his skills to take down Homeland when he realizes the entire country has implemented anti-terrorism acts and treats everyone as a potential terrorist.

I read this book back in 2013 and absolutely loved Little Brother and its sequel, Homeland (published in 2013)! And, I think Cory Doctorow’s works is definitely a great representation of Canadian YA literature. With a title that pays homage to classic science fiction novel “Big Brother” aka 1984 by George Orwell, the novel really hits home and makes the reader think. Little Brother deals with the principles of human rights and the right to question authority. It really doesn’t shy away from the bigger questions and really questions how far is too far to keep the country “safe.” Doctorow really showcases his knowledge on computer science and questionable morals concerning computers as he interweaves it throughout Little Brother and Homeland.

But don’t think that because it’s about computers that the characters were lacking. Man, man, man, I loved Marcus so much. He was relatable and very, very real. He experienced some really gritty stuff and reacted in the way a normal human would; paranoid and afraid. My brother read this as a preteen and he was blown away. I know that both he and I look at the world very differently now that we’ve read Little Brother, constantly asking more questions than we did before. I definitely recommend starting with Little Brother if you’re interested in learning more about computers and its questionable morals.

In between the publications of Little Brother and Homeland, Doctorow also published another Young Adult novel titled “For The Win” which is a dystopia where millions of people are playing MMO’s and people in developing countries are bound by contracts to farm gold for those in wealthier countries. Three teens on the game from around the world become friends and get entangled in a plot devised by a user named “Big Sister” to crash the world’s economy.

It was definitely a great novel, with a sort of grittiness to it that makes you uncomfortable because the world could ultimately become something sort of like it. To be honest, all of his YA novels do that and it’s such a beautiful thing that I love about his books and makes him a great representation of Canadian YA literature. He makes you think about the future of our world in the hands of computers. Not many other YA novels do that, and I think it’s absolutely brilliant.

Haven’t heard of him before this post? Well if you’ve read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, it’s likely you’ve heard his name before. Why? Well according to Wade, he’s the President of the OASIS User Council in the year 2044 with Wil Wheaton as his vice president. Yup, that’s right. He has a cameo in another popular YA novel. Definitely a great representative of Canada.

Well, do you want to read some of Cory Doctorow’s stuff? You can pick up one of his books at your local bookstore. Broke? If you’re a Canadian high school student, you can pick up Little Brother in your library as it was nominated for the White Pine award in 2009, making it a novel in high school libraries all around Canada! Not in a Canadian high school? Don’t worry, Doctorow published a lot of his novels via Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial NoDerivs license, which means that you can share it as long as you do it on a noncommercial basis. So what does this mean? This means you can download most of his novels, including Little Brother, Homeland and For The Win as ebooks off of his website, craphound.com. Just click on one of the images of the books of the right, select what format, and you are good to go. I hope you pick up one of Cory Doctorow’s amazing novels! Happy reading!

Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of the YA graphic novel In Real Life, the nonfiction business book Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free, and young adult novels like Homeland , Pirate Cinema and Little Brother and novels for adults like Rapture Of The Nerds and Makers. He is a Fellow for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in Los Angeles.

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