304 pages

English language

Published June 14, 2020 by Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom.

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5 stars (4 reviews)

Four short stories about the near future and the dystopia we're building for ourselves.

7 editions

I still don't understand how encrytion works

4 stars

I went through a brief love affair with Doctorow. But the sweetly clunky how-to-do-X-techie-thing-to-bring-down-Y-bad-guy-slash-system got too clunky for me. And repetitive too.

These short stories were OK though. Maybe he's gotten better, or maybe it's been long enough between my readings. Either way in all his writing, I still don't understand how encryption and private/public keys work (not asking for an explanation).

Brilliant Social Commentary

5 stars

This is science fiction as commentary in its highest forms. Across four stories, Doctorow paints vivid portraits of how current social and technological trends could easily lead to dystopian social conditions. In each case, it's really just a way of amping up the volume on existing practices and problems in a way to better dramatize the problem.

Kim Stanley Robinson gives the cover blurb, and that choice is perfect: Doctorow is operating in the same tradition as Robinson, but in a more immediate and accessible way. While Robinson has elements of sprawling, high literature in his novels--including length!--Doctorow has more of a page-turner style, like a fun escapist sci-fi story with the intellect amped up. He gets to the point quickly, making you care deeply about the characters immediately. It's easy to see how "normal" people get swept up in destructive social and technological systems.

Another good comparison point is …

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4 stars


  • Fiction, science fiction, general