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Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

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I was at my local bookshop when I saw a book sitting there. I wasn't going to pick it up because it just didn't seem interesting. But, on the cover was a very large blurb by Neil Gaiman. Now, if he says he'd recommend it over anything else he's read this year (which he did), then I am obligated to look at it. The book in question is "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow. I read it, and I recommend this book to anyone here.

It's a very interesting book set in present-day San Francisco. The story revolves around W1n5t0n a cyber-hacker who happens to be a teenager in a local high-school. It's tech-heavy, though you probably don't need to understand much to enjoy the book, it certainly would help. It doesn't drift far-off reality and it's not really science-fiction except for the fact it isn't a true story.

Before I get to the review with spoilers, I must say this book is FANTASTIC. And it's IMPORTANT. You need to read this book. Seriously. It blurs the line between fiction and reality so strongly, you'll begin to wonder.

Mr. Doctrow is a former director of the EFF so his facts are tight and apart from an unhealthy love of the evil X-box, he's blown me away with Little Brother. This book is amazing. The book is a quick read, tightly backed, well edited, and fascinatingly entrapping. A good mental exercise and a release at the same time. Buy it. Read it. Then tell your friends.


Specifically, Marcus (W1n5t0n) lives his life as a cyber-geek and cyber-genius. Unrelated to that, a terrorist attack hits San Francisco. This is the story of Marcus and his girlfriend (sorry -- no gay content here) in their quest to reclaim San Francisco when the Department of Homeland Security takes over. They turn San Francisco into a mini-Gitmo and while they never impose marital law, rights are slowly taken away just like is happening in real life. Alone that would make the book possibly interesting. But that's not all.

The book explains, in detail, why all those little RFID devices everyone carries aren't such a good idea. RFID? They're in your car (toll booth transponder), Passport, and so forth. They couple that with data in the traffic camera, and data mined from government records. All of a sudden they know more about you than you care to think. Might sound like science fiction but it isn't: this is all current, working, installed technology.

W1n5t0n goes into hiding and his ultimate goal is to survive his imprisonment, torture (yes), and take back what is slowly being taken away. He could be a hero if he can only succeed. Nothing I write here will do this book justice. You need to read this book. If you think you're living in a free America, you probably should read this work of fiction. Because although it's fiction, this story is delivering a message. Freedom is not free. What would you pay for yours?

Please buy this book. I really can't reiterate this enough: buy this book. BUY IT NOW. Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Little-Brother-Cory-...w/dp/0765319853

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  • 5 months later...

Yeah, they recommended this one on the This Week in Tech (TWiT) podcast as an Audible download, and praised it very highly. Cory Doctorow has been on the show before, and is a fascinating, very articulate guy.

No question, Bush used 9/11 as an opportunity to totally d!ck with our personal freedoms. Just the crap you have to go to to fly nowadays is an absolute nightmare. I had a TSA agent take away a bottle of water I had bought at the airport, 20 feet from the TSA line a week ago. It makes you want to ask: why do they sell things that you know they're gonna take away from you five minutes later?

Oh, and mind you that was $3 for a 16oz bottle of water that should have cost 35 cents. Bastids.

The company I work for is about to go to RFIDs for all employees. The first thing a buddy of mine said was, "now they'll know exactly what time we walk in the building, where we go, where we goof off, and when we leave." Big brother time.

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Orwell was right in principle, he just got the date wrong.

Last year they fitted our field guys trucks with GPS locators. What are they there for? To see if the truck is where its supposed to be and if it stops at places the company thinks are verbotten.

I don't know who scares me more: the government or big companies. There a few restrictions on government, in theory, but companies just go and do things until they're sued over it....

I'm reminded of a bumper sticker a friend has on his car:

I love my country, but fear my government.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain...


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