Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present

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Overview


Have you ever wondered what it's like to get bitten by a zombie? To live through a bioweapon attack? To have every aspect of your life governed by invisible ants? In Cory Doctorow's collection of novellas, he wields his formidable experience in technology and computing to give us mindbending sci-fi tales that explore the possibilities of information technology — and its various uses — run amok. "Anda's Game" is a spin on the bizarre new phenomenon of "cyber sweatshops," in which people are paid very low wages to...
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Overview


Have you ever wondered what it's like to get bitten by a zombie? To live through a bioweapon attack? To have every aspect of your life governed by invisible ants? In Cory Doctorow's collection of novellas, he wields his formidable experience in technology and computing to give us mindbending sci-fi tales that explore the possibilities of information technology — and its various uses — run amok. "Anda's Game" is a spin on the bizarre new phenomenon of "cyber sweatshops," in which people are paid very low wages to play online games all day in order to generate in-game wealth, which can be converted into actual money. Another tale tells of the heroic exploits of "sysadmins" — systems administrators — as they defend the cyber-world, and hence the world at large, from worms and bioweapons. And yes, there is a story about zombies, too.
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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
The second short story collection (after 2003's A Place So Foreign and Eight More) from iconic science fiction writer and renowned Internet activist (eff.org, etc.) Cory Doctorow takes a look at humankind's near-future, especially relating to our oftentimes tumultuous relationship with information technology and the politics surrounding it.

The novelette "Anda's Game" is an instant classic of a story that revolves around a 12-year-old girl's misadventures in an online fantasy game where, as a sword-wielding warrioress, she and her online clan kick butt taking out enemy strongholds for a mysterious patron who pays them cold, hard cash for every mission completed. But when Anda realizes that the avatars she is so relentlessly slaughtering are actually children in Third World sweatshops working to accumulate in-game resources (experience points, hit points, etc.) to sell to rich kids in First World countries, the game takes an ominous turn. The Hugo Award–nominated "I, Robot" -- an obvious homage to Isaac Asimov -- is another unforgettable story that takes place in a techno-totalitarian state where "social harmony" is more important than scientific innovation.

Any science fiction fan wondering where the genre is headed need only pick up a Cory Doctorow work (Eastern Standard Tribe; Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, et al.) for the answer. Just as Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke were at the vanguard of the genre in the '50s, '60s and '70s, Doctorow explores revolutionary -- and visionary -- territory with every new novel and short story he publishes. Other authors may be considered at the cutting edge of the genre: Doctorow is the cutting edge. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
An unabashed promulgator of the Internet and its democratic potential, Doctorow (Eastern Standard Tribe) explores the benefits and consequences of online systems in this provocative collection of six mostly long stories. "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" is a moving chronicle of a widely dispersed network of techno-geeks laboring to keep the World Wide Web running as an epitaph to an earth devastated by a bioweapon apocalypse. In "After the Siege"-the bleak chronicle of a modern siege of Stalingrad-the horrors of war become fodder for a documentary film crew's reality-based entertainment. Two tales riff on classic SF themes: "I, Robot," in which Isaac Asimov's positronic bots are cogs in a dysfunctional future totalitarian state, and "Anda's Game," a brilliant homage to Orson Scott Card's Ender's saga, in which a role-playing enthusiast finds herself immersed in a surprisingly real world of class warfare fought online by avatars of game players. Most "meat"-minded readers will find much to savor. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Doctorow (Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom; cofounder boingboing.com) brings a sense of the offbeat and absurd to sf, notably in this collection of six stories that look at our near future and how technology is shaping our society. "I, Robot" and "I Row-Boat" each explore artificial intelligence and scrutinize the practicalities of Isaac Asimov's three rules of robotics. "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth," a fresh take on the end-of-the-world story, is both funny and touching. "After the Siege" is much grimmer, despite merely being about one small war. Like the other stories in the collection, "Printcrime" and "Anda's Game" delve into the way technology is controlled by governments and business and in turn used to control people. All the stories have been previously published in magazines, in anthologies, or on web sites. Doctorow adds head notes for each work, detailing how it came to be—a nice peek into the writing process. A thought-provoking and fun collection; recommended for all public libraries.
—Devon Thomas
Kirkus Reviews
Five substantial stories plus one short-short, all previously published, all computer-related and bulging with knowing SF references. "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" depicts the heroic struggles of a handful of dedicated system administrators to keep the Internet up and running in the face of an ill-defined, terrorist-related global meltdown. In "Anda's Game," the standout entry, child laborers in third-world sweatshops toil to accumulate advantages playing online games on behalf of affluent first-worlders, so that the rich kids can enjoy the games without all the drudgery. The robots of "I, Robot" are at war: One faction is hobbled by Asimov's famous Three Laws, while the others are free to develop independence and vastly enhanced intelligence (although it's hard to see what stops the latter from simply taking over, or doing their own thing and ignoring humanity altogether). Elsewhere, godlike humans uploaded into orbiting electronic matrices prod inanimate objects or lowly lifeforms like coral reefs into consciousness. And Doctorow bases another war, this over intellectual-property rights, upon the horrific WWII siege of Leningrad: He doesn't quite pull it off, but it's a worthy effort. The ideas don't always stand up to a searching examination, but the appealing characters, snappy writing and swift pace will surely tempt the younger and/or geekier sections of the SF audience.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560259817
  • Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/2007
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow is a Canadian-born blogger,
journalist, and author of nonfiction and award-winning science fiction. He is a contributing author to Wired magazine,
and his writing has been published in the New
York Times Sunday Magazine
, the Globe and Mail, the Boston Globe, Popular Science, and others. He is coeditor of the blog Boing Boing, and he was named one of the web’s twenty-five “influencers” by Forbes and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. His novels have earned him numerous awards, including several Prometheus Awards,
the 2000 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, Locus Award for Best First
Novel, Sunburst Award, White Pine Award, and the John W. Campbell Memorial
Award. He has served as Canadian regional director of the Science Fiction and
Fantasy Writers of America. He currently lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

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