A few hours ago, I finished reading Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow. This goes on the list of books every intelligent, thinking person should read. Seriously.
When I say I finished it a few hours ago, I mean that I basically started reading it when I decided to get in twenty minutes or so of reading before I went to sleep. Twenty minutes turned into a marathon reading session. I devoured the 380 pages of story, two afterwords, and bibliography in one sitting.
Doctorow has made it available to everyone who wants it, free of charge, online. Get it from his Little Brother Webpage, if you’re up for reading it electronically. I, however, chose to borrow it from the library. The local library branch didn’t have it — I had to wait for an inter-library loan to come in. On one hand, it was worth the wait. On the other hand, in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t needed to wait. I’m now considering buying a copy for myself — not only to keep, but to support its author as well. Maybe I’ll buy several and hand them out as door prizes at a party (and I’m only half-kidding about that).
It’s essentially written for teenagers — hell, it’s even educational — but don’t let that stop you, no matter how old you are. It’s a great read, and (this is going to sound clichéd, I know) one of the most important books I’ve ever read. I don’t think I’ll ever say that it “changed my life”, but if I didn’t already sympathize with it so much, it certainly would have changed my life.
The book takes place in a future so close to right now that it’s difficult to figure out at times that it’s not meant to be wholly contemporary. It’s full of technologies that exist, many of which are available right this second for anyone with the interest in using them (though some have been fictionalized a bit). Scott Westerfield’s one-sentence summary of the plot on the back cover reads “A rousing tale of techno-geek rebellion — as necessary and dangerous as file sharing, free speech, and bottled water on a plane.” It’s capped by two afterwords — one by Bruce Schneier (you should know who this is), and the other by Andrew “bunnie” Huang (the original Xbox hacker).
I’ll finish up with a paraphrase from one of the people who recommended this book to me in the first place:
Go. Read it. Now.