By now many people will be familiar with the bestselling co-editor of Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow, after the young adult novel Little Brother, and his great adult book, Makers. Doctorow clearly has a knack for not just being to be able to string a bunch of words together creatively and skillfully, but each and every story is an important “What if?” to tell. Sometimes Doctorow offers dates, sometimes not; but readers can usually guess his stories are set in either the near future or within the next hundred years, involving a possible future that will capture, delight, and sometimes terrify. Doctorow seems to grasp at our idle thoughts of this century and the next, transforming them into a believable possibility that really makes us wonder.
With a Little Help collects thirteen of his short stories that have seen publication in anthologies or magazines or other media over the past few years revealing Doctorow’s ability to tell a great, captivating science fiction story not just in long form, but also in short with developed characters you can connect with and a story that will haunt you and stay with you long after you have finished it. Whether it’s the Internet, government, politics, or religion, Doctorow seems to have a unique take on it all, presenting a world that we’re encroaching upon right now, or will be in the ensuing decades.
The book is also an experiment in itself, only available as a print on demand in printed form, or available free as an ebook, though donations are politely requested through his website. One might think in this day and age of piracy and scouring the Internet for illegal free items, this concept would result in failure, and yet this great collection continues to make money, which Doctorow isn’t ashamed to hide with monthly financial reports. Perhaps, then, this is the message he is trying to share in his compelling stories: there is still hope . . .
Originally written on June 7, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.
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