Cory Doctorow, Science Fiction Author


Cool Tools Show 218: Cory Doctorow

Our guest this week is Cory Doctorow. Cory is a science fiction author, activist, and journalist. He’s the author of many books, most recently Radicalized and Walk Away, science fiction for adults; In Real Life, a graphic novel; Information Doesn’t Want to be Free, a book about earning a living in the internet age; and Homeland, a young adult sequel to Little Brother. His next book is Posey, the Monster Slayer, a picture book for young readers. You can find him on Twitter @doctorow or visit his blog at pluralistic.net.

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Show notes:

CRKT Snap Lock Knife ($70)
CRKT is a really great high-end knife maker. They’re up there with Fiskar and other pocket knife manufacturers. And they came out with this design that’s kind of a novelty design. It’s got this weird steam punk gear. It’s a skeleton knife in the sense that it’s a kind of minimal weight knife. It’s got lots of holes drilled in it and more of a frame than a case. And it does this thing with this gear mechanism, you pry it apart with your thumb, and then you click the knife into place and it locks open and then you do it again and it locks shut again. It’s a one-hand operation. It’s got a little clip for your shirt pocket. And I carry it so frequently and use it so often that I’ve actually had to buy about four of them because I forget and take them to the airport because it’s just automatic now that I’ve got one clipped into the breast pocket of whatever I’m wearing. But it’s unbelievably useful. It’s got a little lanyard hook so that it’s easy to tie up and keep track of. I just use it to open boxes and pry stuff open. I don’t treat it with the respect that a great knife is due and it’s holding up very well.

Diver 4GB Waterproof MP3 Player with LCD Display and Earphones
This is a Chinese OEM and there’s 50 versions of it. And they last, if you swim every day like me, and I swim in the sea maybe 10 times a year and it lasts for maybe a year and a half. And what I find is that every year and a half, I buy another identical one, but it’s got a different manufacturer’s name on it. They all come out of the same factory, or there’s a bunch of factories that have stolen each other’s designs. But they’re all reliable. The way that they work is they have a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack, and you plug a USB cable that’s got a microphone on one side and a regular USB A on the other and you plug that into your computer and it just mounts as a mass storage device. And then you drag files into it and they play back in their creation order. And it’s moderately fast. It charges that way as well. And what I find is that if I recharge it every time I change over a book, which would be twice a month, then I never run out of battery. So I charge it once every three weeks or so. And I swim for about an hour a day, six to seven days a week.

Libro.fm is an independent audio book platform that sells every single audio book in MP3 form, with the exception of Audible originals. But every other audio book, in every publisher’s catalog is available for sale from Libro.fm at the same price that Audible sells it at, but without DRM. And you tell them what your favorite bookstore is, and they will give them a commission every time you buy it, on the grounds that you’ve probably gone into that bookstore, perused the book in paper edition and then got back and bought the audio version from Libro. And it all works on your underwater MP3 player. It’s basically exactly like Audible except you don’t enrich an evil trillionaire.

About Attack Surface:

Attack Surface is the third Little Brother book. The Little Brother books were my first YA books. They were New York Times bestsellers. Ed Snowden took one of them with him when he went on the run. You can see it in the documentary. And at the beginning and the end of those two books, there’s a character called Masha, a young woman who instead of working against mass surveillance is actually part of the mass surveillance apparatus. When the incident that turns the protagonist of those books, Marcus, into a freedom fighter happens, it turns her into a snoop. And she ends up working for the DHS and then for private security contractors. And this is her story. It’s a book for adults, not in the sense of having a lot of pornography or anything, but in the sense of just dealing with some much more adult themes and it’s a book about how people who are fundamentally good, talk themselves into doing the wrong thing and what it means when they change their minds.


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