Ah, frustrating read — not because of Cory Doctorow’s stories, but because I wish I’d found them earlier. Not that everyone else won’t enjoy them too, but these stories are perfect for the Web geek, the technoscience hack, the computer nerd, and others of that ilk. Cory is all-of-the-above and then some, and his knowledge and familiarity with all-things-geek comes shining through brightly in the stories in this collection.
The book starts auspiciously with Cory’s classic “Craphound,” which follows thrifty aliens through rummage sales, out for ephemera of all kinds. The centerpiece, “A Place so Foreign,” is an intriguing historical riff on time travel. Cory’s Disneyfied California environs crop up in the creepy “Return to Pleasure Island,” and another wildly futuristic, yet timeless environment sets the stage for three stories: “Shadow of the Mothaship,” “Home Again, Home Again,” and “The Superman and the Bugout” — each of which actually stand quite well on their own two. My favorites here are the twist on ubiquitous marketing, “To Market, to Market: The Rebranding of Billy Bailey” and the full-on, geeked-out, bio-engineered “0wnz0red.”
A Place So Foreign (and 8 More) is a time machine, a map for territories that don’t yet exist, and a damn fine read though and through.
(Six of the nine stories are available for free download from Cory’s site.)