Little Brother in the New York Times

Austin "Soon I Will Be Invincible" Grossman's written a fantastic review of my young adult novel Little Brother for this weekend's New York Times book review section. Incidentally, the book went into a fifth hardcover printing last week, and is going back for a sixth printing next week because so many orders came in between the fifth printing being set up and it being delivered!
“Little Brother” is a terrific read, but it also claims a place in the tradition of polemical science-fiction novels like “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and “Fahrenheit 451” (with a dash of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”). It owes a more immediate debt to Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli’s comic book series “DMZ,” about the adventures of a photojournalist in the midst of a new American civil war. ...

MY favorite thing about “Little Brother” is that every page is charged with an authentic sense of the personal and ethical need for a better relationship to information technology, a visceral sense that one’s continued dignity and independence depend on it: “My technology was working for me, serving me, protecting me. It wasn’t spying on me. This is why I loved technology: if you used it right, it could give you power and privacy.”

BTW, if I'm not mistaken, there are still some signed first-edition hardcovers in stock at Bakka Books in Toronto and Borderlands in San Francisco, and both stores ship.

Nerd Activists


  1. I bought a copy for my step-son. A few days later I asked him what he thought about it, and whether or not he had bothered to research any of it the techniques described on Google. Apparently, he had. That was enough to make me think that this was no ordinary book.

    Congratulations…you have given birth to a new generation of kids that will question authority and, maybe, just maybe, take the time to revolt against the status quo.

  2. Great, you finally succeeded in making me feel like I’m missing out.. So I just ordered it… It’d better be good, buster

  3. I like this bit:

    “Even if you only write code for one day, one afternoon, you have to do it. Computers can control you or they can lighten your work — if you want to be in charge of your machines, you have to learn to write code.”

    Congrats – this is LB news that’s worth reporting.

  4. Hvn’t rd BB fr 2 r 3 mnths (ftr vstng dly bfr).

    cn’t blv ths s th frst stry s thgh. ws gttng fd p wth ll th plgs fr ths bk bck whn t cm t.

    Prbbly gd rd, bt shsh … tlk bt vrkll :ywn:

  5. claims a place in the tradition of polemical science-fiction novels like “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and “Fahrenheit 451”

    Wow. That must feel good to hear. Congratulations and thanks for your work, it’s great that you’re spreading these ideas to a new and broader audience. They need to be heard again.

  6. Congrats, Cory. A nod from any member of the Grossman family (they all seem to be geniuses) is golden. I sat with Austin on a comics’ panel a while back, and he impressed the frak outta me. He was channeling Sam the Eagle, and I felt like a mental midget next to him.

  7. It’s very pleasing to hear how much Austin Grossman likes Little Brother, given how much fun his own book Soon I Will Be Invincible is.

  8. Cory, why do you insist on behaving as if this were your blog?

    (Me, I like just about every flavor of the free ice cream)

  9. The book was great – and as I believe Cory intended, to me it revived the great tradition of “juveniles” too: great books for young people to read as the learn to form their own ideas.

    RE: “you have to learn to write code” — as a professional, often low-level (assembler language on a mainframe) coder, of course that statement resonates. It is important, however, to spend some time educating people about how much of what they do these days is “coding” in a sense:

    — use the task scheduler in Windows to automate repetitive things like backups
    — learn to code formulas and things in Excel
    — controlling what is automatically started when you start your machine
    — learn the power of Notepad to modify various settings, playlist files, etc.
    — once comfortable, start on things like Windows scripting

    Once they realize all the opportunities for coding, the next step is to demand that the software they use be programmable in those senses – for example, don’t accept binary-coded playlists for your music devices or software; use one that lets you edit the playlists via a text editor.

    Note that I used Windows examples not because I’m a Windows fanboy (z/OS is my OS of choice) but because that’s what a lot of people who are “just using” computers have.

  10. i too thought this book was a little overhyped. then i read it, and realized a few things.
    – Cory Doctorow writes for Boing Boing, he can hype whatever the hell he wants
    – it’s a damn novella! if you think it’s overhyped, go read it! i read it in my free time at work and finished the file in 3 days.
    – SF authors need to take every possible opportunity to pimp themselves
    – Little Brother was smart, well written, funny, frightening, inspiring, and more. really, it should be required reading for all high school students. i wish i’d read it the first time it was posted on BB.

    after reading it online, i read the articles at the bottom, and paid very close attention to the books that were mentioned there. and now i’m going to read those. i think i’m well on my way to becoming a Cory Doctorow fangirl.

  11. Two weeks ago, I started putting ebook readers on an old Palm Pilot I found at work. The first book I put on it was Little Brother. I loaded it up on Tuesday, and finished reading the book Saturday morning.

    I haven’t read much in the way of fiction in a long time – been focused on podcasts and audiobooks the last few years. But this was the best thing I have come across in a long time. When it first came out, I was worried about letting my 11 year old son read it, because I thought it might be too scary, or the “adult” stuff might have been too racy. I’m not worried about that now.

    He started middle school a few weeks ago, and his eyes have already been opened a lot wider to the world around him. They’re talking in detail about the political process, they’re reading The Hobbit in his English class, he’s getting exposed to a much wider range of opinions and decisions in the halls, classrooms… even the lunchroom. This is exactly the sort of book he needs to read now.

    I’m really going to have to put an effort into digging out my old Newton, whacking together a NewtonBook of it, and giving it to him. Congratulations, Cory, on writing such a great and successful story.

  12. Yes, Absent, you’ve astutely discovered that things that are personally important to the authors of weblogs come up often. It’s a shocking revelation, I’m sure.

  13. Do they think we don’t know what percentage of Cory’s posts are about Little Brother? (Answer: very few.)

  14. Congratulations on the NYTimes review. That is pretty major. I actually bought Little Brother last week and have read a little bit and liked it. Since my little brother is turning 30 and living in SF, I think I will send it to him when I’m done.

    Also picked up Look At Me- quite a good book. And I finished Snitch Jacket which has the most hilarious satire of Burning Man you’ll ever read. Maybe this week I’ll take a crack at Anathem(?) or whatever else I can get my hands on.

  15. Big ‘grats :D

    Heh, I was lucky enough to pick up a signed copy at Elliott Bay Book Co. a couple days after you’d signed there. Of course, I would have much rather been there for the actual signing, but road trips can’t always be hurried and I couldn’t get to Seattle in time. Ah well. Thank for the great read. I’ve been rec’ing your book, so I’m glad it’s doing well.

  16. @JFlex :
    that quote made me think of a cover art for english free-party techno artist Crystal Distortion (former member of the Spiral Tribe sound-system) U 238 cd album :
    “Use your computer before your computer uses you”

    seems I can’t find any picture of it online, sorry…

  17. Deche,

    It’s funny – it actually made me think of my time working in restaurants as a high school kid. The connection is that even dabbling in something gives you a sense of the enormity of another type of life. I’ve only dabbled in code but it gave me a palpable appreciation for a remarkable way of thinking and the people behind it.

  18. FWIW, I thought it was an engaging read and I learned things. These are both qualities I value in literature.

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