Saturday, October 27, 2007

Short stories, novels, & fan fiction of Cory Doctorow: A reading guide by quality

List below was originally seeded from ISFDB, Wikipedia, Cory's website, some other sources, & my own reading. It's neither complete, nor intended to be, nor will be kept up to date.

I got interested in him after reading 3 of his stories. He seems to be one of the few popular authors dealing in comprehensible stories about modern & relevant technology, & its near term impact.

I am not really a fan of his writing style. Also, information his stories are based on is usually well hashed. But someone thinking about current technology will likely come up with something I can use! Expect more posts about his stories in days ahead.

Stories I have read come first, ranked on quality - best first. Followed by unread stories, listed in no particular order.

Link to downloadable stories is provided here as well as in review articles linked from story title. My ratings are in brackets.

  1. [novelette] "0wnz0red" (A); download;, 28 August 2002; science fiction: Nebula Award 2003 nominee in novelette category. Software that takes over your body's maintenance functions from your brain - e.g., to tone up your muscles, or to heal a sickness!
  2. [novelette] "Anda's Game" (A); download;, 15 November 2004; science fiction: Interesting story is the description of a multi-player online computer game & associated virtual world. Much less interesting parallel thread is some commentary on the economy of sweat-shops in low wage countries.
  3. [ss] "Scroogled" (A); download; Radar magazine, 12 September 2007; science fiction: It pays to care about the data Google is collecting about you.
  4. [ss] "Printcrime" (B); download; Nature Magazine, January 2006; science fiction; my-url: An extreme case of Hollywood's persecution of file sharers. This future world has printers that can print anything (presumably given the description in a file) - an expensive medicine, jewelery, etc. Lobbying of design owners have ensured that these machines are outlawed in this dystopia society. A man using it illegally is caught & severally punished. When he returns after spending a decade in prison, he is determined to ensure that when he next goes to prison, it's something worthy of imprisonment! He will now be printing these printers themselves, & flooding the society with them. This sentiment - of unjust punishment for minor crime, & of protagonist's retaliation by actually doing something worthy of punishment, is also found in Larry Niven's "The Jigsaw Man". See also the fanfic rejoinder to Printcrime - Peter Anderson's "The Copper Responds".
  5. [ss] Peter Anderson's "The Copper Responds" (B); download; 2 December 2007: While not by Cory, this is a kind of fanfic rejoinder to Cory's "Printcrime". Dark, but good read. Narrated by a sadist cop in the employ of this dystopic government. I found it a better read than Cory's original, but you need to read original for it to make much sense.
  6. [novella] "After the Siege" (B); download; The Infinite Matrix, January 2007: I gave up after a quarter or so. Based on the 2 year siege of Leningrad by German forces during World War II, it's a story of great human misery.
  7. [ss] "Other People’s Money" (C); download; Forbes, 15 October 2007: In the year 2027, venture capitalists in Silicon Vally have funds of the order of half trillion dollars to deploy. And go to desperate lengths to try finding investment opportunities.
  8. [novelette] "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" (C); download; Jim Baen's Universe, Aug 2006: A pretty mundane doomsday story. World goes down suddenly to multiple simultaneous terrorist attacks without a hint of protest or resistance from governments!
  9. [ss] "Truncat" (C); download;, August 2003: Sequel to novel "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom". Jargon filled utopia of a future world where people live very long; can go to sleep for long in a kind of stasis; can backup the contents of their brain so even in the worst accident, the old backup can be downloaded into their clone to ensure continued existence. And most importantly, young people share these brain backups over a kind of file sharing network (usually without owner's consent), & get a kind of psychological boost out of it! This sharing is supposed to be fun & hep.
  10. [ss] "The Right Book" (C); download page 1 & page 2; The Bookseller, 20 June 2008: A collection of 3 related stories titled "Now (ish)", "75 Years From Now (Or So)", & "150 Years From Now (ish)".

    Supposedly about the future of book selling, but I just cannot make out the head or tail of it. Something to do with kids in a neighborhood doing their own books from a continuing community game, or writing project, or ... something.

    This also happens to be among the most difficult to get online stories of Doctorow. Tough luck trying to read online!
  11. [novel, CC] "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" (2003); download: Nebula 2004 nominee. Not read.
  12. [novel, CC] "Eastern Standard Tribe" (2004); download: Not read.
  13. [novel, CC] "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town" (2005); download: Not read.
  14. [ss] "2,000 Year Check-up" (1990): Not read.
  15. [ss] "Hell: A Cautionary Tale" (1992): Not read.
  16. [ss] "Cars Swing" (1993): Not read.
  17. [ss] "The Adventures of Ma N Pa Frigidaire" (1993): Not read.
  18. [ss] "Resume" (1994): Not read.
  19. [ss] "Jaime Spanglish in the Nile" (1997): Not read.
  20. [ss] "Fall from Grace" (1998); Asimov's: Not read.
  21. [ss] "Craphound" (1998); download: Not read.
  22. [novelette] "Home Again, Home Again" (1999); download: Not read.
  23. [ss] "Visit the Sins" (1999); download; Asimov's: Not read.
  24. [ss] "Shadow of the Mothaship" (2000); download: Not read.
  25. [ss] "Foreign" (2000): Not read.
  26. [novella] "A Place So Foreign" (2000); download: Not read.
  27. [ss] "At Lightspeed, Slowing" (2000): Not read.
  28. [novelette] "Return to Pleasure Island" (2000) download: Not read.
  29. [ss] "The Rebranding of Billy Bailey" (2000); Interzone: Not read.
  30. [ss] With Michael Skeet: "I Love Paree" (2000); Asimov's: Not read.
  31. [novelette] "The Super-Man and the Bugout" (2001); download: Not read.
  32. [ss] With Charles Stross: "Jury Service" (2002); download; Not read.
  33. [ss] "Nimby and the Dimension Hoppers" (2003): Not read.
  34. [ss] With Charles Stross: "Flowers from Alice" (2003): Not read.
  35. [ss] "Pathological Instrumentation Disorder" (2003): Not read.
  36. [ss] "All Day Sucker" (2003): Not read.
  37. [ss] With Charles Stross: "Unwirer" (2004): Not read.

  38. [novelette] "I, Robot" (2005); download: Not read.
  39. [novelette] "I, Row-Boat" (2006): Not read.
  40. [ss] "After the Siege" (2007); download: Not read.
  41. [ss] Human Readable: Not read.
  42. [ss] With Charles Stross: "Appeals Court"; download: Not read.
  43. [ss] "Pathological Instrumentation Disorder": Not read.
  44. [ss] "Flowers from Al": Not read.
  45. [ss] NIMBY and the D-Hoppers; download audio: Not read.
  46. [ss] "Printed Meat and Nattering Packages": Not read.
  47. [ss] "Liberation Spectrum"; download; Not read.
  48. [ss] Road Calls Me Dear: Not read.
  49. [ss] "Beat me Daddy (Eight to the Bar)": Not read.
  50. [ss] "Power Punctuation!": Not read.
  51. [ss] "Abbat01r": Not read.
  52. [ss] "At Lightspeed, Slowing"; Asimov's: Not read.
  53. [ss] "The Fundamental Unit of Memory": Not read.
  54. [ss] "Overture, Curtain Lights": Not read.
  55. [ss] "Song of Solomon": Not read.


  1. ss means "short story".
  2. CC means released under Creative Commons license.