Doctorow, Cory 1971-
DOCTOROW, Cory 1971-
PERSONAL: Born July 17, 1971, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
AWARDS, HONORS: John W. Campbell Award for best new science fiction writer, Hugo Awards, 2000; Nebula Award nomination for best novelette, Science Fiction Writers of America, 2004, for OwnzOred.
(With Karl Schroeder) The Complete Idiot's Guide toPublishing Science Fiction, Alpha Books (New York, NY), 2000.
(With others) Essential Blogging: Selecting and UsingWeblog Tools, O'Reilly (Sebastopol, CA), 2002.
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (novel), Tor (New York, NY), 2003.
A Place So Foreign and Eight More Stories, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 2003.
Eastern Standard Tribe (novel), Tor (New York, NY), 2003.
Author of novelette, OwnzOred.
Coauthor of the Weblog BoingBoing. Contributor of stories, articles, reviews, and interviews to periodicals, including Wired, Salon.com, Speculations, Mindjack (online), On Spec, Globe and Mail, Asimov's, Locus, Realms of Fantasy, and Science Fiction Age.
SIDELIGHTS: Cory Doctorow writes science fiction and nonfiction about technology, both of which he was exposed to at an early age by his father, a math and computer science teacher. Doctorow notes on his Web site that he learned to use a keyboard before he learned cursive writing. He began selling his short fiction at seventeen and has had continued success with his stories. A collection has been published, and he has published two novels.
He says that he is obsessed with two things—trash and Walt Disney. His friends make livings from reassembling computers from discarded parts and creating sculptures and other items from flea market and yard sale finds. His Disney obsession may come from the fact that when he was a child, his grandparents took him to the Florida theme park during his Christmas visits. He notes that "garbage and Disney appear in almost everything I write."
Doctorow has cowritten how-to books, one on publishing science fiction and the other, Essential Blogging: Selecting and Using Weblog Tools, a guide to setting up and maintaining an online Weblog, like his own BoingBoing. The book advises on real-time editing versus uploading files. Online's Deborah Lynne Wiley wrote that the authors "do a good job of explaining the benefits and disadvantages of each and provide descriptions of a number of freeware and shareware desktop clients and hosting services." The authors begin with basics and add sophistication as the book progresses.
Doctorow is also a digital rights activist and an outreach coordinator with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, described on their Web site as "a group of passionate people—lawyers, volunteers, and visionaries—working in the trenches, battling to protect your rights and the rights of Web surfers everywhere. The dedicated people of EFF challenge legislation that threatens to put a price on what is invaluable; to control what must remain boundless. . . . Because being able to share ideas and information is the reason the Web was created in the first place!"
The flagship product of OpenCola, founded by Doctorow and John Henson, is file sharing and search engine technology that resides on the user's hard drive and accesses the hard drives of other OpenCola users, keeping track of searches and links and making them available to others with the same interests. The best information rises to the top through sheer numbers of hits, gaining whuffie points.
"Doctorow's dream is that OpenCola's technology will help the millions of artists who can't afford to publicize themselves in a worldwide market," wrote Mark Frauenfelder in Industry Standard. "He believes OpenCola will make it possible for any arbitrary piece of media to find its audience. . . . OpenCola also supports the 'tip protocol' a la Stephen King, where users download material and pay for it on the honor system, and the unfortunately named 'street-performer protocol,' where a creator releases a work into the public domain after a certain amount of money has been 'thrown into the hat' by any number of customers."
Tim Pratt wrote for Strange Horizons online that with his stories and his first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Doctorow has "appeared at the vanguard of a trend within science fiction that's so bleeding-edge it doesn't even have a stupid nickname yet. (Singularitypunk anyone? How about PostHumanism?)"
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is set in late XXI, after the ascension of the Bitchun Society. In this postmonetary world, whuffie points are everything, gained for good will and contributions to the public good. There is no death. In this wired world, minds are backed up frequently, so that if the body dies, a cloned one, specially grown for them, is programmed with their last backup.
One-hundred-year-old Jules works at Disney World, which is run by groups of young people with communications devices implanted in their inner ears and brains. Jules is killed for the fourth time when he opposes the remaking of his station, the old-style Haunted Mansion, by a group that wants to replace its animatronics, converting it into a virtual-reality attraction like they did at the Hall of Presidents, and where visitors can now become Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. Other characters include Keep A-Movin' Dan and Jules's girlfriend Lil.
New York Times Book Review contributor Taylor Antrim wrote that the story's "ad-hocracies of 'twittering Pollyannic castmembers' who smoke 'decaf' crack and congratulate one another on 'Bitchun' ideas offer a knowing, gently satiric view of a once-ascendant digital culture. And the impressively imagined world of the novel is tricked out in lively prose."
Rick Kleffel reviewed the novel for Agony Column online, noting that Doctorow "sprinkles his prose with just the right number of Unix-derived terms." "Doctorow's debut is a sci-fi ride worth lining up for," commented Noah Robischon in Entertainment Weekly.
His second novel, Eastern Standard Tribe, is about a man in a secret society of members who help each other find jobs and who sabotage other tribes. Doctorow told Katherine Macdonald, who interviewed him for Strange Horizons, that the novel "is based on the idea that before the Internet and universal end-to-end communication came along, you were pretty much stuck with being friends with the people who lived near you. . . . But with the advent of the Internet, you can be friends with people who think like you, even if they don't live near you."
Doctorow has made his fiction and nonfiction available in a variety of formats through his Web site. As he notes, the six of nine stories from his collection, as well as Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and other works, are available through download under a license developed by the Creative Commons project, which allows distribution of creative work in a manner similar to the free/open source software movement. The works of a range of artists may be copied and used for noncommercial purposes with proper attribution. "It's a great project," commented Doctorow, "and I'm proud to be a part of it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Entertainment Weekly, March 7, 2003, Noah Robischon, review of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, p. 76.
Inc., June 30, 2001, Alessandra Bianchi, "Taking a Page from Science Fiction" (interview with Doctorow).
Industry Standard, October 30, 2000, Mark Frauen-felder, "Nouveau Niche," p. 118.
InternetWeek, January 10, 2003, Mitch Wagner, "Expert: Alleged Wi-Fi Risks Are Nonsense; Contrary to Popular Wisdom, Cory Doctorow, Coauthor of the BoingBoing Weblog, Says that the Popular Networking Standard Is As Safe As Warm Milk"; January 24, 2003, Mitch Wagner, "Reader Poll: Wi-Fi Can Be Safe and Useful, but Must Be Deployed with Care; We Didn't Make a Lot of Friends with Our Recent Article Interviewing Digital Rights Activist Cory Doctorow, Who Said the Alleged Security Risks of Wi-Fi Wireless Network Are Myths, and Wi-Fi Is in Fact As Safe As Warm Milk."
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2002, review of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, pp. 1662-1663; September 8, 2003, review of A Place So Foreign and Eight More Stories, pp. 60; January 1, 2004, review of Eastern Standard Tribe, pp. 18.
Library Journal, February 1, 2003, Devon Thomas, review of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, p. 122.
New York Times Book Review, March 9, 2003, Taylor Antrim, review of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, p. 19.
Online, March-April, 2003, Deborah Lynne Wiley, review of Essential Blogging: Selecting and Using Weblog Tools, p. 77.
Publishers Weekly, December 16, 2002, review of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, pp. 49-50; January 19, 2004, review of Eastern Standard Tribe, pp. 57.
Agony Column,http://trashotron.com/agony/ (October 14, 2003), Rick Kleffel, review of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.
BoingBoing,http://www.boingboing.net/ (October 14, 2003).
Cory Doctorow Home Page,http://www.craphound.com/ (October 14, 2003).
Creative Commons Project,http://creativecommons.org/ (October 14, 2003).
Electronic Frontier Foundation,http://www.eff.org/ (October 14, 2003).
Strange Horizons,http://www.strangehorizons.com/ (March 31, 2003), Tim Pratt, review of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and Katherine Macdonald, interview with Doctorow.
Technology & Society,http://www.techsoc.com/ (October 14, 2003), Curtis D. Frye, review of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.*