The Barnes & Noble Review
A Place So Foreign and Eight More is a sardonic collection of short stories by Cory Doctorow, winner of the prestigious John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer in 2000.
The title story, “A Place So Foreign,” is, on the surface, a novella revolving around a family living in 1898 Utah that has access to a portal (in their horse barn) to 1975. After young James spends time in the future and returns home to 1898, he sees his life -- and his world -- in a different light. It’s a sentimental story not so much about time travel as about growing up and finding one’s destiny.
Although all the stories in the collection are fascinating in their own right, easily the most memorable is “Craphound,” a work destined to be a classic that has already been included in several international anthologies. Jerry Abington is a collector of junk. His weekly routine includes religiously visiting yard sales, auctions, and thrift shops in search of the discarded objects that could potentially turn into collectibles when someone offers to pay big bucks for them. Together with Craphound (an alien who shares his addiction to junk), he travels around Canada in search of the big score.
Comparable to the popular science fiction satire of Steve Aylett, Paul Di Filippo, and Allen M. Steele, Doctorow’s collection of nine short works is as entertaining as it is thought provoking. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes disturbing, this collection showcases Doctorow’s wicked sense of humor and genius wit. Paul Goat Allen
The New York Times
A bracing collection of short stories by a Canadian writer whose influences range from Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker to Donald Barthelme and Roald Dahl. As knowledgeable about computers as he is about flea markets, Doctorow uses science fiction as a kind of cultural WD-40, loosening hinges and dissolving adhesions to peer into some of society's unlighted corners...Not every attempt to wrest truth from cliche worksbut you won't want to miss Doctorow's satiric glance at co-opted dissent among the grade-school set or the insidious horror of his updated Pinocchio tale.Gerald Jonas
Postcyberpunk Doctorow, a rising Canadian SF star, follows his Orwellian Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003) with nine too-near-future tales of aliens and the human alienated-and it's often hard to tell the difference. In "Craphound," the author posits an Earth taken over by "bugouts," aliens obsessed with trading technological expertise for human junk, the ephemera that momentarily defines a society and then becomes silly or naive when some new and more soul-destroying technological amusement arrives. That Faustian central metaphor of the thirst for technology as the ultimate source of spiritual corruption almost guarantees Doctorow's other absorption, his vision of Disneyland in "Return to Pleasure Island," a horrifying sidewise glimpse of the children's entertainment industry. Since the short story form seems somewhat restrictive for him, his best pieces, like his achingly funny reflections on adolescence ("The Year of the Hormone") and a Jewish superman in the era of the Pax Aliena ("The Super Man and the Bugout"), need at least novella-size room. His closing story, "OwnzOred," a shockingly original glimpse of 21st-century mankind tottering at the brink of a mortally steep cliff, is a polemic on fair-use freedom. By relentlessly exposing disenchanted Silicon Valley dwellers caught in a military-industrial web of khaki money, Congress-critters and babykiller projects, Doctorow explores the intersection of social concern and technology-Never-Never land, or 2084? (Oct. 6) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.