Following in the footsteps of the success with his first book, Little Brother, Cory Doctorow has just released his newest work of fiction, For The Win, and it’s a definite Faze-pick.
For The Win follows three gamers who are fully immersed in the virtual world: Mala in India (who leads an army of warriors through the games, seeking out and destroying those who wish to exploit the game for personal gain), Matthew in China (who, in defiance to his ex-boss at the electronic sweatshop, farms the games for gold to sell to First World gamers who spend money to skip levels of playing) and Leonard (or Wei-Dong, as he likes to be called, who pulls all-nighters assisting his friends in Asia as they conquer the gaming world) in California.
The online realm can be a dangerous one though–with so much money pouring in from the wealthy nations, those with power in developing countries are busy trying to latch on and control the gaming economy by whatever means necessary, turning many into slave-gamers.
Everything will change when Mala, Matthew and Wei-Dong encounter the mysterious Big Sister Nor, who can help them to take a stand against the abusive system and out-think the authorities that attempt to control their lives. But neither side will go down without a fight.
Excited about his new book, Faze sat down with author Cory Doctorow, to talk a little about his writing and his take on the tech world.
FAZE: Why do you think it’s important for this book to leave a lot of questions unanswered?
Cory Doctorow: Well, partly because I don’t know the answer. The issues that this book deals with, in addition to gaming and atonomy, things like economic justice and the nature of stuff–we are kind of drowning in stuff in this country because there are children in other countries chained to a machine making it.
So, all of those things, I don’t have an easy answer for them. I mean, I like Happy Meal toys as much as the next guy, but I don’t like the idea that they’ve crossed an ocean of blood to get to me.
I don’t know how to resolve that kind of thing, but I think that pretending it doesn’t exist is the wrong place to start. I guess I’m hoping that young people who read my books will be my partners in figuring out how to make a better world.
FZ: Was it important to you that there be strong female characters in your book about gaming–which might normally be seen as a male-dominated world?
CD: I’ve always been a feminist and I thought, “Well, let’s see about writing a book that’s for boys AND girls.” So, there’s male characters and female characters who are protagonists in this, and I tried to make them both work.
I also tried to pass something called the Bechdel test…There’s a great cartoonist named Alison Bechdel, who’s got a test which is: in a work of art, like a film or a play or a book, is there more than one female character? And do they have a conversation about something other than the male characters? And there’s a surprising amount of girl-books that don’t pass that test… This one does.
FZ: You have held policy positions with Creative Commons, advocating for creative works to be available for everyone online at no cost–why do you think this is an important direction to go in? Wouldn’t that be bad for the sale of your books?
CD: So, it’s actually not… Of everyone who failed to buy one of my books today, the vast majority of them did so not because someone gave them a free electronic copy, but because they’ve never heard of me. Giving people the capacity to hand my book to other people and say, “You’ve got to read this–you’ll love it” is a net positive for me. And I think young people have always done that…
I think that there’s a small number of people who treat an electronic book as a substitute for a printed book, and there’s a larger number of people who treat an electronic book as an enticement to buy a printed book.
And so long as the second number is bigger than the first, that’s okay, but that’s not the whole reason, right. Commerce is fine, but if you get into writing to earn a living, you’re in the wrong field. Because even though I do it, it was such a long shot that I would ever earn a living writing and almost no one does. Almost everybody who is a writer, has some other source of income.
Cory Doctorow is also an editor for boingboing.net, an online tech, culture and business news source.
Check him out online and don’t forget to take a look at his new book, For The Win, distributed by H.B. Fenn.
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