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Old 1st Jan 2014, 18:29   #1
Noumenon
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Happy New Year, folks!

I thought I'd kick this off for a change since I've just finished book one for the year, Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, and enjoyed it a lot. I wondered, how many of us have read any of his stuff?

I think I first came across his name via Gil 's Mythaxis (there's a link to CD's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which I only really remember as being "fun" now. Since then I picked up Pirate Cinema in a Humble ebook Bundle and really liked it, and LB has proved to be very much in the same vein: socially aware YA with a tech-activism edge. He writes very convincing teen narrators and (in the last two at least) places them in totally plausible near futures where issues like digital copyright and social freedom are at the core.
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Old 1st Jan 2014, 18:55   #2
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I got Little Brother about four years ago (?) but loved it, and my younger son especially loved it. I think the challenge of how to fight an entire system was rather impressive - most teen books make a great fuss of "ooh totalitarian state!" but their protagonists usually find some easily convenient way to buck the system. Little Brother was far darker, which I approve of.
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Old 7th Jan 2014, 15:14   #3
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Isn't Daveybot a big Doctorow fan?
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Old 7th Jan 2014, 18:58   #4
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Default Re: 2014 Palimplist Conversations

After a moment's thought... it seems likely.
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Old 9th Jan 2014, 15:54   #5
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Default Re: 2014 Palimplist Conversations

I read Doctorow's Makers last year and wasn't all that impressed. Fascinating ideas, poorly executed.
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Old 9th Jan 2014, 17:19   #6
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Default Re: 2014 Palimplist Conversations

I sort of know what you mean (just read your review there) about preachiness. In the case of Little Brother there were beats where I felt I was being informed at (and to be honest, Pirate Cinema was the same), but on the whole I found the information being dispensed interesting so I didn't let it bother me.

Is Makers a YA title, do you know? I could imagine this would be more obviously annoying for a straight adult audience; one of my experiences of YA (and junior fiction in general) is that authors have a bit more leeway with being didactic.

In the case of both books I've read, there isn't really a specific villain for the most part; the adversary is more a wider social one, which is fair enough, that's Doctorow's interest in general. What that does mean is that the personified agents of evil tend to be more like henchmen than fully rounded ringleaders, so I get what you mean on that regard too.
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Old 10th Jan 2014, 0:49   #7
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With all the talk of copyright law, and all of the main characters being adults, I don't think Makers is intended as a YA novel. It's not really the preaching as such that bugs me, but more that he lets the novel takes a backseat to it - there's so many intriguing ideas he brings up, but he never develops them, just uses them as an excuse to whine about Disney having lawyers. It's one of those novels that frustrated me because there was a good novel in there somewhere, but he never bothered finding it.
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Old 18th Jan 2014, 10:46   #8
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Changing the subject to suit my own ends...

Vencut2, I see you've been reading Watching the English. It's been in my pile for ages now as no matter how fascinating it sounds, I can't help passing it over in favour of fiction. How have you found it?
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Old 21st Jan 2014, 15:11   #9
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Hallo Lucoid, I've actually been reading Meeting the English which *is* fiction (and entertaining it was too) - but I did also read Watching the English by Kate Fox when it came out in pb in 2005, so I've dug it out and had a quick flick through it, in an attempt to remember what I thought about it at the time.

I suppose the trouble with any books like this is that they are intensely personal accounts. A general discussion of pub talk and behaviour, for example, may irritate you if you think the writer's observations are at odds with what you yourself have seen in such situations, or if it dismisses things you hold dear.

At times I found this account very irritating. Of course no book about the English can escape discussions of class, but these went on and on - I didn't want to read an etiquette manual. I have also read Jeremy Paxman's book about the English and I seem to remember it was more of a ramble across the national characteristics and stereotypes real and imagined. (I'd have to get hold of that one and read it again as well, though. It's quite possible that it was just as annoying if he got on his high horse.)

It wasn't all bad. I do remember chuckling over descriptions of female-female and male-male bonding talk, the shipping forecast ritual, queueing etiquette etc. And there are some little gems, such as the Goths who wore Tshirts emblazoned with the slogan SAD OLD GOTH - "to stop people taking it all too seriously - well, to stop us from taking ourselves too seriously as well, which to be honest we're a little bit inclined to do if we're not careful. You've got to be able to take the piss out of yourself." There's also a chapter on mobile phone use that looks rather aged now - it mentions texts but not smartphones - after all, nearly a decade has passed since it was written...
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Old 26th Jan 2014, 22:45   #10
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Default Re: 2014 Palimplist Conversations

Quote:
Originally Posted by vencut2 View Post
I've actually been reading Meeting the English


Quote:
Originally Posted by vencut2 View Post
but I did also read Watching the English
My dignity is saved (if not my reputation for close reading). Thanks!

And thank you for the mini review. If I do read it anytime soon we can compare and contrast.

So, Meeting the English is entertaining? Sounds like a good enough recommendation for me, I'll add it to my list.
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