Little Brother

Little Brother


(16 Reviews)
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow









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Little Brother


(16 Reviews)
Marcus, a.k.a "w1n5t0n," is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works--and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school's intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they're mercilessly interrogated for days.When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

Book Excerpt

He was so angry I thought he was going to pop. You know I said I'd only seen him lose his cool rarely? That night, he lost it more than he ever had.

"You wouldn't believe it. This cop, he was like eighteen years old and he kept saying, 'But sir, why were you in Berkeley yesterday if your client is in Mountain View?' I kept explaining to him that I teach at Berkeley and then he'd say, 'I thought you were a consultant,' and we'd start over again. It was like some kind of sitcom where the cops have been taken over by the stupidity ray.

"What's worse was he kept insisting that I'd been in Berkeley today as well, and I kept saying no, I hadn't been, and he said I had been. Then he showed me my FasTrak billing and it said I'd driven the San Mateo bridge three times that day!

"That's not all," he said, and drew in a breath that let me know he was really steamed. "They had information about where I'd been, places that didn't have a toll plaza. They'd been polling my pass just on the street, at random. And it was wrong! Holy crap, I mean, they're spying on us all and they're not even competent!"

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"Little Brother" is well-written sci-fi of a caliber one usually doesn't find for free. Sci-fi as a genre tends to be derivative, and "LB" is no exception (influences of William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, et al. are evident). But Doctorow keeps his story flowing, his plot believable and his characters more or less realistic. "LB" is a great read and if you like sci-fi, I think you'll like this.

"LB" is, as the other reviews indicate, a strongly political work, criticizing recent moves toward government intrusion in areas most people would consider private. That is great. And I was impressed that Doctorow managed to both accurately criticize American policy and yet avoid tarring an entire country as backward troglodytes (something that happens all too often).

But as I was reading this book, I kept thinking of Herman Melville. Melville wrote, of course, what is almost surely the best American novel, and perhaps even the best novel in English: "Moby Dick." Before writing "MB," Melville wrote a number of good novels, including "Typee" and "Omoo" (which are worth reading still, btw).

But Melville also wrote "White Jacket," which was his attempt at social commentary. "White Jacket" is a novel arguing against flogging as a naval punishment. It is also amazingly dull (to me, anyway).

I don't think any sci-fi novel will be challenging "Moby Dick" for its place at the top of the novel rankings. But just as trying to argue for social change made Melville write a novel inferior to his other work. And I think the same goes here.

I am of course far from the first to argue in this vein at the general level. But I felt that Doctorow's choice to try and engage present-day issues diminished my enjoyment of the novel. For example, much of the technology he talks about either already exists (RFID, Onion routing, etc.) or could easily. And most of the security issues Doctorow treats are far from new.

Thus, as I was reading the novel, I kept wondering: Why is he treating this like it's some sort of bleeding edge stuff? Does anybody even semi-savvy not know about these issues?

Now I know that Doctorow may be trying to spread knowledge, and that is great, but when a work of art is used as a vehicle for political statement, usually it suffers as a work of art. And I think that is the case here.

But it's still a good read and highly recommended for sci-fi fans.

I really really enjoyed this book. It's an easy read and hard to put down - and of course it sends out an important message about paying attention to our freedom of privacy, in a modern-day context. Everyone should read this!
Great book of a very possible big brother future like the classic 1984. Learned a lot about how easy it is for the government or anyone who access to data to snoop on you without you realizing it. With security cameras going up across the country to watch streets, catch speeders and other traffic violators, I have known that before long you will have a hard time to do anything that is not considered the socially correct. This shows the back door ways of tracing you through seeing where you are going by using traffic and mass transit passes. It is a future we are facing and will have to define our rights as to what can and cannot be used. Story line is fantastic sci fi and entertaining. This book is great from just being a good read to one that really makes you think!!
The most important book since 1984. No matter what country you live in you MUST read this book, excellently written, masterfully accurate depiction of modern day technology and abuse of power.