Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

I picked up my first Cory Doctorow book after hearing him speak as a part of a Science Fiction and Fantasy author panel at the American Library Association several years ago, and was intrigued by the way he blended his politics and beliefs into a fictional landscape.

Canadian-born Doctorow (coeditor of the popular weblog boingboing.net) is heavily involved in promoting liberal copyright laws and open source software, and these themes play prominently in his writing.

Pirate Cinema, published in 2012, follows 16 year old Trent McCauley who runs away from home after the shame of illegally downloading too many videos and having his family’s internet access revoked for a year. Set in a dystopian near-future England, in a world that revolves around online connectivity, this devastates his parents, who require the web for their livelihoods, and his younger sister, who can’t keep up her grades (her ticket out of small town England) without the world at her fingertips.

On his own in London, penniless and hungry, Trent learns the ways of the street. Connecting with an underground community of like-minded youngsters, Trent masters the ins and outs of apartment squatting, dumpster diving, stealing electricity, and making a new life for himself. Working with his new found friends, Trent begins to understand the politics behind the Draconian copyright laws that are being passed by Parliament, and leads a cloak and dagger scheme to change the world for the better.

Although Doctorow’s works are generally classified as teen fiction based on the ages of his characters, his writing style and themes are sophisticated and nuanced. Others that I’ve enjoyed include Little Brother (which spent seven weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List) and For the Win.

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