20 March 2011

With a Little Help by Cory Doctorow

[Note: I wrote this review while at work, mostly while listening to the book. As a result the tense varies between present and past. Whatever.]

I’m listening to this on audio. It was a free download and each story is read by a different performer. I listen to it while working in the back at the library. I must confess that since I’m at work while listening to this book, my attention is rarely focused properly upon the story, therefore I can listen to a story and not have any clue what it was about or who was in it. I have found that the reader has quite a lot to do with how well I pay attention to the story. The first one, meh. The Neil Gaiman-read story, “The Right Book,” caught my ear a bit, but the first one I *really* listened to was “Scroogled,” read by Wil Wheaton.

“Scroogled” is about what would happen if Google succumbed to evil. I’m not gonna lie, it made me second-guess my overwhelming reliance on Google products. The thought dies quickly of course, and I am currently writing this in Google Docs. So it goes.

“Human Readable” was very interesting. I have a feeling I would have understood it a bit more if I was listening to it in a place where I could give it more attention, like in the car rather than while working. Again, the reader may have had something to do with my interest. The first third is a love story and then the relationship ends when the woman chooses her career over her love life and moves to D.C. At that point the story follows her fight for getting a new law pushed through, an effort that puts her at odds with her ex. Very interesting how their relationship plays out throughout the course of the story. Also, there’s an Ewok.

I pretty much ignored “Liberation Spectrum” while working, but “Power Punctuation” was dead fun. It’s great and really fast-paced. The story is told from the point of view of a country bumpkin who finds himself moving up quickly within the corporate infrastructure though he doesn’t really understand what’s going on. The story is in the form of letters to his mom. I love his watch that gives him advice and feedback and tells him what he needs to do at work.

I had no idea what was happening in “Visit the Sins.” Something about being able to shut off while being awake and therefore not really being present. This is just the kind of story that would totally hold my interest if I weren’t busy doing actual work while listening to it. This happens all too often for this audiobook, sadly.

“Constitutional Crisis,” much like Felicia Day’s The Guild and some of Wil Wheaton’s blogs, makes me wish I actually knew a bit more about gaming. I never had a game system until about a year ago when I bought a Wii from a friend. It sits in the living-room mostly neglected unless I want to watch something on Netflix streaming. I didn’t play DnD growing up because I never knew anyone who did, though what I’ve learned about the game tells me that it’s totally something I would have been into in middle school. Totally.

“Pester Power” is another story that I only half listened to, yet I still managed to enjoy it. Same goes for “Chicken Little.” There was mention of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and a cartoon called “The Stupor Salesman.” This alone makes me dig the story, hahaha. As I picked up with the story the following Friday working in the back, I found that I gave it more attention. This may be because I was working on more or less mindless tasks at my desk enabling me to give more attention to anything I may be listening to.

“Epoch,” is flying right over my head as I read my email. The biggest thought on my brain is how hungry I am, making it hard to focus on anything else really. Thankfully, my lunch hour begins in fifteen minutes. Big Mac Spam sounds wonderfully awesome in that wonderfully frightening sort of way.

“I’m Only In It for the Money” is the afterword by Doctorow’s agent. I dig honesty in chapter/afterword titles. He talks about publishing economics and how it’s total bullshit for the most part. He also hopes that the model Doctorow uses will be helpful for the other authors he represents as well as for Cory in the future.

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