"Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

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DanielCopelin
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"Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby DanielCopelin » Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:05 am UTC

A book on terrorism, civil liberties, the digital age, democray, human rights, oppression, resistance. Also a lot of cool technology, underground hackers etc... It's free to distribute (like the rest of Cory's books). Link: http://craphound.com/littlebrother/download/

I was surprised not to find a thread about it here, given that it's quite an xkcd'ey type book. Anyone else read it? Thoughts? I'm half-way through and really enjoying it.

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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby MaybeAndroid » Fri Jan 09, 2009 1:23 pm UTC

I really enjoyed it. It's a book intended for young adults, so it's a fairly easy read, but it's still full of intelligent ideas and gives you plenty to think about. It's a really good example of a science fiction book starting from a very near future setting. I would recommend it to all. Plus, I love that Cory Doctorow puts all his books available for free online. I read the first few chapters of one of them online, and went straight to Amazon to buy the paper copy; since then I've bought every single one of his books.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby DanielCopelin » Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:37 pm UTC

Yeah, just finished it. Very very enjoyable. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in this sort of thing. I'm going to pick up a meatspace copy next time I'm in town.

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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby WBLambert » Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:34 pm UTC

A darn good book. If more kids actually followed it, the future would be a hell of a lot more interesting.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby kellsbells » Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:03 pm UTC

Yeah, I read this a while ago when it first came out because I kept hearing good things. I went out and bought the paper version after reading the first chapter or so online. I quite enjoyed it, although it kind of scared me in the way 1984 does.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby cypherspace » Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:29 pm UTC

I have to say I've avoided reading it - knowing Cory's output it always seemed to me like it's more a polemic or propaganda tool than a novel, but I guess that's no different to Animal Farm or 1984 really, is it? I might have a read.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby DanielCopelin » Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:09 pm UTC

You're right, of course. It's very much Cory talking about all the things he normally does in a quasi-fictional, theatrical setting. There's still some very interesting points raised, and I tend to agree with a lot of what he says anyway.

I find it a bit strange that the book is defined so readily as sci-fi. It's barely fictional in the way that it presents technology. It could easily be set tomorrow, with a few minor tweaks. That's part of it's appeal for me.

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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby Rinsaikeru » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:08 am UTC

I just spent most of my shift at work reading this...thanks. :P I did enjoy it, is it a vehicle to talk about abuse of security? Sure--sometimes books are.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby Xanthir » Sat Jan 17, 2009 6:09 pm UTC

cypherspace wrote:I have to say I've avoided reading it - knowing Cory's output it always seemed to me like it's more a polemic or propaganda tool than a novel, but I guess that's no different to Animal Farm or 1984 really, is it? I might have a read.

Yeah, Cory always writes with a goal in mind, often to bring attention to some near-future technology he's interested in.

That said, this was a really good book. It feels realistic in how it portrays the security response to a second major terrorist attack on our soil. It's major purpose, though, is to make young people aware of the issues surrounding censorship and surveillance, and to raise awareness on methods around them.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby mat.6.24-34 » Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:17 pm UTC

Yeah this is pretty much my favorite fiction book of all time (I don't read fiction very often!); I've read it at least 3 times and each time I seem to learn something new.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby Sandry » Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:45 pm UTC

I agree that it's clearly Doctorow preaching his values, but it works within the context of the narrative, so that didn't annoy me.

And yes, I found this totally enjoyable. I'm glad I picked up a copy so I can lend it out to friends.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby Clumpy » Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:55 pm UTC

The book is available for free online here. I'd also recommend his story Printcrime. The fact that so many people bow to every demand of copyright propagandists is one of the great hoodwinks of the past century.

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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby telkanuru » Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:33 am UTC

Good story.

Resolution was a little too happy.

8/10.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby Clumpy » Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:38 pm UTC

telkanuru wrote:Resolution was a little too happy.


Wait - I haven't read this. How can a dystopic novel end happily?

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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby AKAnotu » Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:37 am UTC

Clumpy wrote:
telkanuru wrote:Resolution was a little too happy.


Wait - I haven't read this. How can a dystopic novel end happily?

Spoiler:
The government of California kicks the Department of Homeland Security out of the state and storms the secret prison with troopers. The main character is tried for only petty theft (steals a girl's cell phone during the course of the book). Everyone's happy again.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby telkanuru » Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:41 am UTC

Today's main comic is vaguely related!
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby Asleep or Wrong » Tue Feb 03, 2009 5:22 pm UTC

it's been a while but from what i can remember it was a bunch of his boingboing posts stitched together with a poorly written self-insertion yarn. also several of the other characters are the hollowest strawmen this side of rand. i really wish mr. doctorow would fulfil his desire to fight against oppression with his amazing technological acumen by moving to one and doing so rather than writing about it.

e: damnit, shii got rid of his pretty excellent criticism. ah well, i think it only covered the first few chapters.

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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby Clumpy » Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:32 am UTC

Asleep or Wrong wrote:it's been a while but from what i can remember it was a bunch of his boingboing posts stitched together with a poorly written self-insertion yarn.


Actually, this is pretty much exactly what I expect and I'm still looking forward to reading it.

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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby Plasma Man » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:25 pm UTC

I've read and enjoyed it, and would recommend it to others. It's nowhere near perfect, but it's a good enough story to be worth reading. My main complaint about it would be that the love story seems rather tacked-on and a bit of adolescent wish-fulfilment. My main praise of it would be that it acts as a warning about the dangers of the surveillance / police state society that seems to be becoming more likely; it also shows the problems with these modes of thought and how relatively simple techniques can be used to confound them.

Overall, I'd award it 7/10.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby Blaze Krakaros » Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:31 am UTC

My problem is that there is current surveillance technology that isn't even featured in the book. Such as that it is now possible for your cellphone to be remote activated and used as a bug. (Not sure if this is still in development, or actually ready for use, but it's there.) The characters have discussions they would not be able to safely have, particularly if they are being monitored, with their phones on their person and not with the battery taken out.

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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby natraj » Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:36 am UTC

Blaze Krakaros wrote:The characters have discussions they would not be able to safely have, particularly if they are being monitored, with their phones on their person and not with the battery taken out.


Hee, this was one of the first thing that me and my other anarchisty friends noticed when we were comparing notes on the book once. Cellphones aren't allowed at our secure meetings unless they've been de-batteried.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby rat4000 » Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:30 pm UTC

So I open up the forums and go to the "Books" section.

So I see a topic with a link to a freely-distributed book.

So I read 7 hours straight off the computer screen.

I loved the book. Seriously. Mostly about the main character - he's likable in that teenager, geeky, offhand way that I so dearly love to read about. Also about the technology. Also about all the other characters. And the style, but that's pretty much the same as the title character.

And I loved the idea of posting your books on the net. I think I'm going to buy it just because I love that idea.

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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby Narla » Sun Feb 22, 2009 4:28 am UTC

i LOVED little bro.
i'm not a hacker or geek and, really, i don't have anything much to do with computers. but this book is SOO cool, i'm thinking about finding some time to hack my computer (get around my dads firewall!!) anywaz, i just love the xkcd comics and after i read the book i thought, hey, this is something that xkcd would like, so i created an account... only to find that you were already talking bout it!!
I was a bit shocked, cuz usualy i'm on the leading edge when it comes to new books, but seems like he's publised it on the net. i think thats totaly the future for books- though having lots of downloads in your computer isn't quite the same as a full bookshelf. another guy thats publishing online is Tristian banks (might not be correct spelling), and his Cool Hunter series. check it out, though the style of writing is a bit young.
Anyway, if you havn't read little bro yet you should. it your the type of person to be reading something like this, then its for you!


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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby kwub » Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:54 pm UTC

The plot was poorly paced, the style was distracting, the message was overly polemic, the dialogue was in turn banal or ludicrous, the characters were shallow, and the ending was utterly contrived.
That said, I loved Little Brother, and since I first read it last year I've been distributing PDF copies with a frequency that is rapidly becoming evangelistic. Doctorow is no great novelist (or even a middling one), but he damn well knows a dystopian danger when he sees one.

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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby KOSMOSX7 » Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:38 am UTC

kwub wrote:The plot was poorly paced, the style was distracting, the message was overly polemic, the dialogue was in turn banal or ludicrous, the characters were shallow, and the ending was utterly contrived.

I got the book for free from Tor Books, took it home, opened it up to read the first 2 pages, and slammed it shut cause the 'droog-speak', or whatever folks would want to call it, was driving my mental parsers to kill themselves.

I'm too young to feel like an old fogey.

That said, you're not really selling me on the book (not that I'm saying that's your job or anything), but what the hell is so great about Cory Doctorow if he writes like *that*?

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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby tsevenhuysen » Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:52 pm UTC

I'm a big fan of the whole Creative Commons copyright that Cory Doctorow and others use, and I'm definitely going to have to check this book out.

Thanks for the recommendation!
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby DarkKnightJared » Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:50 pm UTC

Borrowed it from a library a while back and on my to-buy list. I loved--definitely one of my favorite modern books. :D

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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby netcrusher88 » Tue Mar 31, 2009 10:59 am UTC

Very much paranoid anarcholiberterian cipherpunk propaganda, but in a good way. It took me a long time to get around to reading this since I was so put off by Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, but I'm glad I did get around to it. This book is pretty much exactly what I expected from Doctorow based on his reputation, but again - in a good way.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby Antimatter Spork » Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:24 am UTC

netcrusher88 wrote:Very much paranoid anarcholiberterian cipherpunk propaganda, but in a good way. It took me a long time to get around to reading this since I was so put off by Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, but I'm glad I did get around to it. This book is pretty much exactly what I expected from Doctorow based on his reputation, but again - in a good way.

IMHO, Down and Out is by far Doctorow's worst book. I think I might feel differently if I was a Disney nerd, but since I don't care for Disney (the company or their products), I didn't really like the book. His other stuff is much better, especially Little Brother and Eastern Standard Tribe (which, if based off of a silly premise, was still a very good book).
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby Spacemilk » Tue Apr 14, 2009 7:32 pm UTC

KOSMOSX7 wrote:
kwub wrote:The plot was poorly paced, the style was distracting, the message was overly polemic, the dialogue was in turn banal or ludicrous, the characters were shallow, and the ending was utterly contrived.

I got the book for free from Tor Books, took it home, opened it up to read the first 2 pages, and slammed it shut cause the 'droog-speak', or whatever folks would want to call it, was driving my mental parsers to kill themselves.

I'm too young to feel like an old fogey.

That said, you're not really selling me on the book (not that I'm saying that's your job or anything), but what the hell is so great about Cory Doctorow if he writes like *that*?


Eh? "Droog-speak"? I read all the posts before I read Little Brother, and while I agree it's not exactly advanced reading (seems aimed at teens or high-schoolers as an easy read, at best) after I read your post I was expecting something along the lines of "Clockwork Orange." Doctorow uses a little jargon at times, but he goes way out of his way to explain it - at least that's how I felt as a 22-year-old who can read "leet speak" but who will want to tear out eyeballs (anybody's, not just mine) after 2 lines of it. Also his crypto "lessons" were interesting and educational.

Anyway, I agree it wasn't the best-written story, but I read the whole thing in a few hours and enjoyed myself. (I really, really disliked the contrived ending, ugh) It's a very interesting thought experiment to put yourself in the character's place. I really enjoy dystopic stories like "Brave New World", etc., but this was the first one where I felt like it really and truly could happen exactly like that.

The main reason for even bothering to post here is because I read the story last week and today I find a nice little article that instantly made me think of Little Brother: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/200 ... -on-right/

Doctorow, eat your heart out.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby DarkKnightJared » Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:48 pm UTC

I didn't think it was a terrible book as others have been saying--but perhaps I got sucked into the theme and message of it and it blinded me of the quality. I dunno. I'm planning on buying it anyway, so I'll probably find out then.

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Anyone else read Corey Doctrow's YA novel?

Postby SacrificetotheGodsofSpeed » Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:24 am UTC

Yup, the only reason I picked up the book was because Doctrow has been featured in XKCD. Anyway, the book is called "Little Brother" and it a really wonderfully epic conspiracy story. Im sure someone who actually knew about computers would be abe to spot the bullshit, but I dont know squat about computers so Im now kind of paranoid.

The writing is better than I thought it would be, but not much.
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Re: "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow

Postby netcrusher88 » Mon Apr 27, 2009 1:27 pm UTC

More or less spot-on as far as what is technically possible, actually, except I'm pretty sure gait recognition is too stupid an idea for anyone to ever actually try to develop it, for the reasons explained in the book. Nor are cellphones, for the most part, quite that powerful or flexible yet. But who knows, you might be able to do the hidden volume thing with a developer model of a high-end smartphone, although it might be sluggish and devour your battery. Those ARM chips are powerful little buggers. As for the RFID stuff, [agency] having that kind of data is dependent only on the organization that owns the data handing it over.

The whole Xnet thing is more interesting to me. It's 90% fiction, but that doesn't make it implausible. A distro called ParanoidLinux was started last year, inspired by Little Brother, and they've already got things like grub-safe which will boot two completely different volumes based on the passcode entered. The wifi hopping is a pipe dream (changing IPs like that would completely ruin a DHT), but there's ways you could improve that (VPN). Other than that, Xnet looks a lot like Freenet, which suffers primarily from underuse. If you had a hundred thousand people using Freenet to hit a dozen Freesites, those dozen sites would load beautifully. Also anything that is based on a DHT (which is how Xnet would have to work) really needs to be able to listen on a public IP, and UPnP is finicky. Of course IPv6 will change that, and possibly obviate the problem of having a DHT seed node by bringing multicast to the home.

Finally, the email encryption thing totally exists, and it definitely is based on encryption that was classified as munitions not 20 years ago. It's called PGP.
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