Science fiction and fantasy
by Cory Doctorow
Doctorow borrows titles from classic sf in his stories I, Robot and I, Row-Boat, as well as the punning Anda's Game, putting his own spin on their themes. Often this means speaking out for the oppressed and poor people of the third world. Overclocked is very political, and even if you don't agree with Doctorow's stance on the issues he tackles he does make a very convincing case. On the surface After The Siege is a hard-hitting story about a future war over the right to use machines which can copy patented technology and other goods, expanding on the themes the author introduced in Printcrime. But he is really taking aim at the modern-day evils of patent restrictions that leave sick people in the third world to die for want of generic drugs that could cure them. Overclocked is passionate and contentious, and it's all the more gripping for being written with such fervour.
Just in case we don't get it, each story comes with its own short introduction. But there's little scope for misunderstanding the political points behind these tales. The robot stories use the cyberpunk concept of uploading the consciousness, putting them more into the realm of science fantasy, yet that doesn't mean they're without some kind of sharp commentary on modern life, just like all the other stories. Provocative and persuasive, Overclocked is one collection that won't leave you underwhelmed.
Review © Ros Jackson
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