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Radicalized by Cory Doctorow

Radicalized (edition 2019)

by Cory Doctorow (Author)

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A timely collection ... connected by social, technological, and economic visions of today and what America could be in the near, near future.
Authors:Cory Doctorow (Author)
Info:Tor Books (2019), 295 pages
Collections:Your library

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Radicalized by Cory Doctorow

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If you've read Cory Doctorow's allegorical stories before you have some idea what to expect, but with a little bit darker twist. If you haven't know that he is a proponent of open software, open societies and success through mutual support and understanding, not command-and-control and capitalism. He makes his points with reasonably entertaining if slightly preachy stories. If that sounds good to you, this collection is as good a place to start as any.

The first story, "Unauthorized Bread", will be very familiar to anyone who has read Walkaway or Makers. It imagines a world where society has become segregated between the haves and the have-nots. Where the internet of things is everywhere and used as another form of oppression and control. You toaster will only make toast if you buy company approved bread. The dish washer will only wash approved dishes with approved soap. And so on for lights, thermostat, building elevators, etc. But they will also only work as long as that company is in business and their servers are working. So what happens when the company goes out of business and people start figuring out how to jail-break their appliances (and their society)?

"Model Minority" presents a very current portrait of how minorities are treated by majorities in the US with the slight added twist that a couple of super heroes are also real, and feeling some guilt. It asks where was (Superman) when Bull Connor turned attack dogs on protesters in Alabama? Does (Wayne Enterprises) supply weapons and surveillance equipment to the police? What happens when well-meaning members of the majority try to fix the symptoms by fiat without understanding the causes or the needs of the minority?

The title story, "Radicalized", comes third and focuses on issues of health care for-profit. Family, all or nearly all men, of people dead or dying of cancer meet up in online support groups. All of their loved ones could potentially be helped by treatments the health insurance companies refuse to cover. For some of them, the group feeds and grows their anger until they start taking it out on insurance executives, politicians who oppose universal health care, and so on. Given how much of Doctorow's other work focuses on non-violent, open, collective solutions as the way, I don't think this story is a call to arms as much as it is a dark warning tale in the spirit of Carson's Silent Spring.

And finally, if you follow Doctorow on twitter, you might have noticed that his handle has recently changed to "The Masque of the Red Death", which is also the title of the final story in the collection. Suffice to say that this is more-or-less the flip side of Walkaway told from the perspective of the doomsday prepper and his cadre of selected lackeys/companions. If you've read the Edgar Allen Poe story of the same title then you know pretty much how it plays out.

The stories read fairly quickly and supply the better-together message in Doctorow's usual entertaining fashion. ( )
2 vote grizzly.anderson | May 19, 2019 |
Four unrelated novelettes about different near future dystopias. All very good, so much so that I read the whole book in less than 24 hours... ( )
  Guide2 | May 4, 2019 |
Unlike any of his other books it's an interesting (and quicker read). The moral message here is a lot more fraught than his other books but he has the most targeted agenda I've seen, compared to his others. It's also pretty dark -- but much more complicated because of it. ( )
  Lorem | Mar 26, 2019 |
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For my parents: Roz and Gord Doctorow, who taught me why we fight, and not to give up. This isn't the kind of fight we win, it's the kind of fight we fight.
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The way Salima found out that Boulangism had gone bankrupt: her toaster wouldn't accept her bread.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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