I’m a big fan of Cory Doctorow, who is amongst other things the assistant editor of one of my favorite websites Boing Boing. He has talked a lot of sense over the years particular when it comes to privacy, the web and building community.
I read one of his latest fiction books (published October 2012) over the summer titled, “Pirate Cinema” and I have to say I found it to be absolutely brilliant and compulsive reading.
The great thing about it is that although it is set in a dystopian near-future Britain, there is so much about the book that anchors it to the present day and our lives in real world. Indeed the cleaver thing about ‘Pirate Cinema’ is that it is pretty much all based on facts and things that do already happen (or could easily happen in the future). Doctorow has then done a great job of linking events together though a series of fictional characters and brilliantly crafted narrative.
Even some of the things, which sound almost impossible in the story, have actually happened. For example, projecting onto the Houses of Parliament (this was done as early as 1999 and more recently by BrewDog). Or the Laser mosquito killer – the theme of a 2010 TED Talk and lots of research cash from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The three-strikes Internet Piracy law is also a very real thing in the UK and ‘Pirate Cinema’ does a brilliant job of getting into the politics of it all!
Doctorow’s passion and deep understanding of copyright, openness, opportunity from the web, hack-culture, the importance of sharing to build knowledge and the loopholes in the law all come across well in the text.
I also love the underlying message that we must believe that access to the Internet is a human right and as culture (certainly within the UK) we have become dependent on it. Lets face it this is absolutely true. The Internet is no longer just a nice thing to have, but a necessity for finding jobs, applying for unemployment, going to school, paying tax, shopping and so much more.
I also love his remarks (spoken through fictional characters) about creativity which appear throughout the book.
“No, it only takes a long time because there are so many people who would like to come up with a definition of creativity that includes everything they do and nothing anyone else does. But if we’re being honest, its easy to define creativity: its doing something that isn’t obvious.”
“That’s what ‘to create’ means: to make something new.”
“The fact is, creativity is cheap, hard work is hard, and everyone wants to think his ideas are precious unique snowflakes, but ideas are like assholes, we’ve all got ‘em.”
The other thing that I really enjoyed reading about in the book was how the young characters used their ‘constantly on’ Internet connection as a natural part of their lives. In particular to teach themselves how to fix computers, re-wire a house and most importantly cook! The insight into squatting was also pretty interesting and Doctorow gives a shout out to Jamie King from vodo.net for giving him a hand with this.
Overall ‘Pirate Cinema’ really is a great read and I bet it won’t be too long until it becomes a film (its got Film 4 potential written all over it!)