a place so foreign

a place so foreign and eight more

cory doctorow is one of my heroes. he’s basically everything to which a nerdy, liberal-minded, dot-com-era, wanna-be writer could aspire: blog trailblazer, digital freedom fighter, non-fiction author, and multiple award-winning sci-fi writer extraordinaire. as if his accomplishments weren’t enough, he also seems to be a really nice guy.

i’m not gay, and i already have a fiancee, but cory, will you marry me?

but seriously folks. cory doctorow is a really, really good writer. don’t take it from me. take it from bruce sterling. or the people who come up with hugo nominations. or the people who gave him the john w. campbell award. they all know a lot more about what qualifies as good writing than i probably ever will.

i’m foaming at the mouth, and i’ve only read 2.5 of his 6 books (two books are waiting patiently on the shelf, along with many other neglected volumes). a place so foreign and eight more is my latest doctorow conquest, and it was immensely satisfying.

the thing i like most about cory doctorow’s writing is that it defies simple description. most people dismiss science fiction without a second thought; space-opera for the silicon-obsessed, they say; literary fluff; romance novels for geeks. these people have not read anything worth reading. among other writers (wolfe, herbert, banks, bear, asimov, to name a few), they have not read cory doctorow.

doctorow has created his own approach to science fiction, similiar in spirit to neal stephenson, but thankfully much shorter. he twists the contemporary with the fantastic, blends present and future, and creates a reality all his own, often one that pokes fun at ours. social commentary runs through most of his writing, but he never clubs you over the head with it. and did i forget to mention he’s funny? lol.

a place so foreign and eight more contains nine short stories, as the title implies, and i’d say there’s only one or two slight misses in the bunch. my favorites were: craphound; to market, to market – the rebranding of billy bailey; the super man and the bugout; and 0wnz0red. in each story, he did something i’d never seen or thought of. if there’s one fault i might find, it’s a lack of significant stylistic variation from story to story; these stories all feel like he wrote them, which is fine in the end (if you like how he writes).

he’s no gene wolfe. he may not even be a neal stephenson. and that’s good. what he does, i have not seen anyone else do. he’s creating his own category, a la Billy Bailey, and from what i can tell, he’s got the big brands all lined up…the best part of it is, he’s not doing it for them. he’s doing it for us.

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