Cory Doctorow

Today’s dystopian fiction seems to be closer to reality than the dystopian fiction of the past. Brooke and Grant explore this new reality with Cory Doctorow, whose socially conscientious science fiction novels delve into topics of political consequence. From the ways in which anxieties fuel science fiction writers to how fiction has the power to change the way we think and operate in the world, today’s episode emphasizes the importance of dystopian fiction for its capacity to shed light on what is true, and what might happen, ideally, as Cory suggests, so that we might fix things before it’s too late.


Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of Radicalized and Walkaway, science fiction for adults, a YA graphic novel called In Real Life, the nonfiction business book Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, and young adult novels like Homeland, Pirate Cinema and Little Brother and novels for adults like The Rapture of the Nerds and Makers. He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate, is a Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Open University, a Visiting Professor of Practice at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in Los Angeles.

Writing Action: Write a Dystopian Story

Write a dystopian story, or to at least think of one as a way to envision our world in a new light.

You can do this in a couple ways:

  1. Take an event in the news—and we have plenty to choose from, unfortunately—like: climate change, technology issues, prescription pills, the rise of totalitarian governments, trade wars—or all of the above, and think about what these trends might produce in 25, 50, or 100 years. How will the world be stratified? Who will the winners and losers be? What will these trends do to our general and individual humanity? Where does the hope, if any, lie?
  2. You might also just Google “dystopian writing exercises.” There are a number of cool links on the first page of results—links to writing prompts and even a dystopian plot generator that is super fun.

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