I Got An Email from Cory Doctorow

I mentioned a few times in the past that I was reading the novel Little Brother, written by author Cory Doctorow. I finished it at the beginning of this week and have to say it was a great book. Very entertaining, interesting, and thought provoking. I’m not alone in my liking of Little Brother, as Cory mentioned it was #8 on New York Times bestseller list this week. Not bad for a book that you can download legally completely for free.

Anyhow, I enjoyed the book so much I decided to let Cory know. I went to his website, found his email address, and wrote him a little message telling him how much I enjoyed the book and how rare it is for me to find a book that I don’t want to put down, one that when I’m not reading it I’m thinking about when I can next read it. I also told him it has inspired me in my own writing. Basically, it was a thank you note (partially inspired by writinggb).

It wasn’t a big deal. I know how hard it is to write and how nice it feels when someone tells you that they enjoy your writing and that it had an impact on them. That’s such a great feeling. It was the least I could do.

Anyhow, later in the day I received a little message from him thanking me for thanking him. It isn’t a long message, but was clearly written by him. It’s not a big deal, but I can say I received an email from a New York Times bestselling author!

So, if you read something you like, why not tell the writer. We are such fragile beings, and to know we are making a difference does mean a lot.

Little Brother

I’m about six chapters into Cory Doctorow’s novel Little Brother and it’s turned into a real page turner. For me, it has been one of those books that when you aren’t reading it you’re thinking about the story and when you’ll get to read it next. So far the story has had a similar feel to be that 1984 did in that I have this funny feeling in my stomach due to the suspense of the story.

Doctorow sets close to the beginning what will happen to the lead character if he gets caught, and I get the feeling that he will get caught, but while I’m reading I’m hoping I’m wrong. You know what I mean? Anyhow, this really adds to the “page turning” qualities of the story.

The story involves a terrorist attack on US soil and the Department of Homeland Security’s overreaction to that. Unthinkable, I know *rolls eyes*. Anyhow, I suggest giving this a look. Again, you can download and read the novel for free. I’m reading it for free on my Sony Reader, which has worked well for me. However, I like the book so much I plan on buying a copy as well.

Along those same lines of overreacting and taking away our freedoms, there have been an alarming number of instances reported on Boing Boing (Cory Doctorow is a writer there too) regarding innocent people being harassed by the police for the serious crime of taking pictures of public buildings. Not private buildings. Public buildings, you know the ones our tax money pays for?

There was a post earlier today by a guy who says “Two FBI agents just showed up at my door for taking photos in the Port of Los Angeles”.

Another post was titled Taking pictures on LA’s Red Line violates the “9/11 Law” with a Metro Worker quoted as saying “Hey! It’s against the 9-11 Law to take pictures down here man!”. First of all, the “9/11” law? Second of all, this is supposed to make me feel safe? It makes me more afraid.

See, they are allowed to put cameras up everywhere and monitor our movements whenever they like. However, we aren’t allowed to take pictures of a building because we might be planning terror. Please.

These are only two examples. There have been many more. How long will they continue to take our freedoms away in the name of “keeping us safe”? As long as we let them.

Little Brother and Blue

First of all, if you get a chance, please read my post yesterday. I put a lot of heart into that one.

Secondly, since it is Tuesday, my latest “Sippy Cup Book Review” is up at beagooddad.com. This week’s book is Blue’s Sniffly Day.

I’m pretty excited because I won a book in a contest yesterday at Chris’s blog. The book is Charles Gramlich’s Swords of Talera. Check it out.

Now on to today’s post. Yesterday, Cory Doctorow released his latest novel via Creative Commons. That means it is absolutely free to download and read. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this novel since Neil Gaiman first wrote this on his blog about the book:

I’d recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I’ve read
this year, and I’d want to get it into the hands of as many smart 13 year olds, male and female, as I can.

Because I think it’ll change lives. Because some kids, maybe
just a few, won’t be the same after they’ve read it. Maybe they’ll
change politically, maybe technologically. Maybe it’ll just be the
first book they loved or that spoke to their inner geek. Maybe
they’ll want to argue about it and disagree with it. Maybe they’ll
want to open their computer and see what’s in there. I don’t know.
It made me want to be 13 again right now and reading it for the
first time, and then go out and make the world better or stranger
or odder. It’s a wonderful, important book, in a way that renders
its flaws pretty much meaningless.

As authors recommending books of other authors, this one was pretty effective on me. I’m pretty sure I’d have checked this book out anyhow. 1984 is probably the work of fiction that has had the most influence on me and the way I view the world. As you may gather from the title, Little Brother, Doctorow’s book is 1984 for the Young Adult crowd.

In the intro to the book, Cory Doctorow has some explanation on why he released the book for free(at the same time it is also being sold in print).

For me for pretty much every writer the
big problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity (thanks to Tim O’Reilly for this great
aphorism). Of all the people who failed to buy this book today,
the majority did so because they never heard of it, not because
someone gave them a free copy. Mega-hit bestsellers in science
fiction sell half a million copies in a world where 175,000
attend the San Diego Comic Con alone, you’ve got to figure that
most of the people who “like science fiction” (and related geeky
stuff like comics, games, Linux, and so on) just don’t really buy
books. I’m more interested in getting more of that wider audience
into the tent than making sure that everyone who’s in the tent
bought a ticket to be there.

He also describes how he wrote the book in only eight weeks, and the feeling of the book writing itself:

I wrote Little Brother in a white-hot
fury between May 7, 2007 and July 2, 2007: exactly eight weeks from the day I thought it up
to the day I finished it (Alice, to whom this book is dedicated, had
to put up with me clacking out the final chapter at 5AM in our
hotel in Rome, where we were celebrating our anniversary). I’d
always dreamed of having a book just materialize, fully formed,
and come pouring out of my fingertips, no sweat and fuss but
it wasn’t nearly as much fun as I’d thought it would be. There were
days when I wrote 10,000 words, hunching over my keyboard in
airports, on subways, in taxis anywhere
I could type. The book was trying to get out of my head, no matter what, and I missed so
much sleep and so many meals that friends started to ask if I was
unwell.

So yeah, the download is worth it for the introduction alone. I’m fifteen or so pages in right now and am enjoying it already. If I continue to enjoy it, I will certainly buy a copy. It’s the right thing to do. To get the book in a variety of formats head on over to Craphound, Cory Doctorow’s website. I’m certain you won’t be disappointed.