Science fiction and fantasy                                            


by Cory Doctorow


Most writers consider they have a vested interest in defending the laws on copyright and intellectual property. Given this, Cory Doctorow's message in Overclocked seems all the more iconoclastic. This is a collection of six short stories, and one of the themes is a future where copying everything is a part of the fabric of reality: not just writing or media, but also food, technology, and even people's consciousness.

The stories are science fiction, but some are very firmly rooted in the present, in modern geek culture. When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth is a post-apocalyptic tale that's full of the kind of references that only techies will understand, and Anda's Game delves into the world of MMORPGs.

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.

Book Details

Year: 2007

Categories: Books

  Science fiction

If you like this, try:


Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Childhood games are no laughing matter for Ender Wiggin.

I, Robot cover    

I, Robot by Alex Proyas
Robots are all the rage in the future.

5 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Cory Doctorow