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Little Brother – by Cory Doctorow

January 24, 2010

Little BrotherPrior to reading this book, I wouldn’t have thought that the boundary between science fiction and realistic fiction could be so tenuous. It takes place in the very near future, and while some of the technologies described may not yet exist, there is nothing in this book that is hard to believe or to see happening in the next couple of years. It is a story that is very current, very embedded in this particular time and space. It is so now, in fact, that it may not be too long before it starts to feel out of date.

Marcus is a very tech-savvy teenager who delights in finding new ways around his school’s security systems and sharing them with his friends. When San Francisco is hit by a major terrorist attack, Marcus and his friends find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time and are taken in by the Department of Homeland Security for questioning. The humiliation and inhumanity of this experience prompts Marcus to seek revenge, especially when he returns home to find that they have begun to implement a new array of surveillance measures throughout the city. Angered by the lack of privacy and the way these new laws and systems disregard the Bill of Rights and the spirit of the Constitution, Marcus begins a crusade against the DHS and their surveillance techniques.

I found this book fascinating. It’s not only an entertaining story, but an informative one. As my father said, after reading it on my recommendation, “It reads both like a novel and an anti-surveillance manual.” My father only rarely reads fiction, so his enjoyment of this book suggests that it straddles more than one genre boundary. Non-fiction readers who are interested in technology or in conspiracy theories may enjoy this book as well as science-fiction fans.

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