I’m a long term Cory Doctorow fan, having loved Makers, Little Brother, For the Win, and Eastern Standard Tribes.
Set in the near-term future, Pirate Cinema is a science fiction thriller about oppressive copyright laws.
In Pirate Cinema, like Little Brother, we have another young adult protagonist and his super-smart female love interest and their tribe, who become outraged at government and corporate interests and take action to improve the world.
As in other Doctorow novels, we get great, really rich settings. This one takes place in London’s street/squatter scene. It’s hard to imagine that Doctorow could write this stuff without having lived it himself. I’d love to spend six weeks with Doctorow and see what his life is really like.
In Pirate Cinema, the technology, morals, and activism take place front and center, as they do in most Doctorow novels. This is about intellectual property rights, their effect on creativity, trusted computing, DRM, and the rights of corporations versus people. In his earlier books, Cory’s prose sometimes read like an academic paper when he’s talking about the serious stuff. This is still here, but I think he’s done a much better job of blending it in. And I really don’t mind the lectures: they’re fun and educational, even for someone relatively conversant in the space.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I laughed out loud and had to immediately text a few friends when I get to the scene on panhandling A/B testing. If you know what A/B testing is, I promise this scene will crack you up.
In short, if you liked Little Brother, Makers, or For the Win, you’ll love Pirate Cinema too. If you haven’t tried any of Doctorow’s fiction, I highly recommend it. He writes about important issues in a fun and entertaining way. You can read for the fun or the lessons or both.
Note to parents: my kids are still in their single-digit ages, but when they hit their teens I hope to feed them a steady diet of Doctorow novels, including Pirate Cinema. The language, street living, and drugs might be slightly edgy, but the lessons about corporate interests and activism are right on.