Read The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow Online

Authors: Cory Doctorow

Tags: #Science Fiction, #Fiction, #Dystopian

The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow

The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow

Cory Doctorow

[email protected]

Last updated 24 August 2011

READ THIS FIRST

This book is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. That means:

You are free:

  • to Share -- to copy, distribute and transmit the work
  • to Remix -- to adapt the work

Under the following conditions:

  • Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
  • Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
  • Share Alike. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.
  • For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link
    http://craphound.com/context
  • Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get my permission

More info here:
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

See the end of this file for the complete legalese.

THE COPYRIGHT THING

The Creative Commons license at the top of this file probably tipped you off to the fact that I've got some pretty unorthodox views about copyright. Here's what I think of it, in a nutshell: a little goes a long way, and more than that is too much.

I like the fact that copyright lets me sell rights to my publishers and film studios and so on. It's nice that they can't just take my stuff without permission and get rich on it without cutting me in for a piece of the action. I'm in a pretty good position when it comes to negotiating with these companies: I've got a great agent and a decade's experience with copyright law and licensing (including a stint as a delegate at WIPO, the UN agency that makes the world's copyright treaties). What's more, there's just not that many of these negotiations -- even if I sell fifty or a hundred different editions of
Context
(which would put it in top millionth of a percentile for reprint essay collections), that's still only a hundred negotiations, which I could just about manage.

I
hate
the fact that fans who want to do what readers have always done are expected to play in the same system as all these hotshot agents and lawyers. It's just
stupid
to say that an elementary school classroom should have to talk to a lawyer at a giant global publisher before they put on a play based on one of my books. It's ridiculous to say that people who want to "loan" their electronic copy of my book to a friend need to get a
license
to do so. Loaning books has been around longer than any publisher on Earth, and it's a fine thing.

Copyright laws are increasingly passed without democratic debate or scrutiny. In Great Britain, where I live, Parliament has just passed the Digital Economy Act, a complex copyright law that allows corporate giants to disconnect whole families from the Internet if anyone in the house is accused (without proof) of copyright infringement; it also creates a "Great Firewall of Britain" that is used to censor any site that record companies and movie studios don't like. This law was passed without any serious public debate in Parliament, rushed through using a dirty process through which our elected representatives betrayed the public to give a huge, gift-wrapped present to their corporate pals.

It gets worse: around the world, rich countries like the US, the EU and Canada have been negotiating a secret copyright treaty called "The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement" (ACTA) and "Trans-Pacific Partnership" (TPP) that have all the problems that the Digital Economy Act had and then some. The plan is to agree to this in secret, without public debate, and then force the world's poorest countries to sign up for it by refusing to allow them to sell goods to rich countries unless the do. In America, the plan is to pass it without Congressional debate, using the executive power of the President. ACTA began under Bush, but the Obama administration has pursued it with great enthusiasm, and presided over the creation of TPP. This is a bipartisan lunacy.

So if you're not violating copyright law right now, you will be soon. And the penalties are about to get a lot worse. As someone who relies on copyright to earn my living, this makes me sick. If the big entertainment companies set out to destroy copyright's mission, they couldn't do any better than they're doing now.

So, basically,
screw that
. Or, as the singer, Wobbly and union organizer Woody Guthrie so eloquently put it:

"This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin' it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."

DONATIONS AND A WORD TO TEACHERS AND LIBRARIANS

Every time I put a book online for free, I get emails from readers who want to send me donations for the book. I appreciate their generous spirit, but I'm not interested in cash donations, because my publishers are really important to me. They contribute immeasurably to the book, improving it, introducing it to audiences I could never reach, helping me do more with my work. I have no desire to cut them out of the loop.

But there has to be some good way to turn that generosity to good use, and I think I've found it.

Here's the deal: there are lots of teachers and librarians who'd love to get hard-copies of this book into their kids' hands, but don't have the budget for it (teachers in the US spend around $1,200 out of pocket each on classroom supplies that their budgets won't stretch to cover, which is why I sponsor a classroom at Ivanhoe Elementary in my old neighborhood in Los Angeles; you can adopt a class yourself
here
).

There are generous people who want to send some cash my way to thank me for the free ebooks.

I'm proposing that we put them together.

If you're a teacher or librarian and you want a free copy of
The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
, email
[email protected]
with your name and the name and address of your school. It'll be posted to
http://craphound.com/context/donate/
by my fantastic helper, Olga Nunes, so that potential donors can see it.

If you enjoyed the electronic edition of
Context
and you want to donate something to say thanks, go to
http://craphound.com/context/donate/
and find a teacher or librarian you want to support. Then go to Amazon, BN.com, or your favorite electronic bookseller and order a copy to the classroom, then email a copy of the receipt (feel free to delete your address and other personal info first!) to
[email protected]
so that Olga can mark that copy as sent. If you don't want to be publicly acknowledged for your generosity, let us know and we'll keep you anonymous, otherwise we'll thank you on the donate page.

I've done this with six of my titles now, and gotten more than a thousand books into the hands of readers through your generosity. I am more grateful than words can express for this -- one of my readers called it "paying your debts forward with instant gratification." That's a heck of a thing, isn't it?

Cover photo by
Paula Mariel Salischiker
, Some Rights Reserved under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license

Cory Doctorow

Winner of the John W. Campbell Award

Locus Award

Sunburst Award

Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award

Prometheus Award

White Pine Award

“Doctorow uses science fiction as a kind of cultural WD-40, loosening hinges and dissolving adhesions to peer into some of society’s unlighted corners.”

—New York Times

“Doctorow demonstrates how memorably the outrageous and the everyday can coexist.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Doctorow shows us life from the point-of-view of the plugged-in generation and makes it feel like a totally alien world.”

—Montreal Gazette

He’s got the modern world, in all its Googled, Friendstered and PDA-d glory, completely sussed.

—Kirkus Reviews
PM Press Outspoken Authors Series

1.
The Left Left Behind
Terry Bisson

2.
The Lucky Strike
Kim Stanley Robinson

3.
The Underbelly
Gary Phillips

4.
Mammoths of the Great Plains
Eleanor Arnason

5.
Modem Times 2.0
Michael Moorcock

6.
The Wild Girls
Ursula Le Guin

7.
Surfing The Gnarl
Rudy Rucker

8.
The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
Cory Doctorow

9.
Report from Planet Midnight
Nalo Hopkinson

Contents
The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow

Part 1: A Sparkling Jewel

I piloted the mecha through the streets of Detroit, hunting wumpuses. The mecha was a relic of the Mecha Wars, when the nation tore itself to shreds with lethal robots, and it had the weird, swirling lines of all evolutionary tech, channeled and chopped and counterweighted like some freak dinosaur or a racecar.

I loved the mecha. It wasn’t fast, but it had a fantastic ride, a kind of wobbly strut that was surprisingly comfortable and let me keep the big fore and aft guns on any target I chose, the sights gliding along on a perfect level even as the neck rocked from side to side.

The pack loved the mecha too. All six of them, three aerial bots shaped like bats, two ground-cover streaks that nipped around my heels, and a flea that bounded over buildings, bouncing off the walls and leaping from monorail track to rusting hover-bus to balcony and back. The pack’s brains were back in Dad’s house, in the old Comerica Park site. When I found them, they’d been a pack of sick dogs, dragging themselves through the ruined city, poisoned by some old materiel. I had done them the mercy of extracting their brains and connecting them up to the house network. Now they were immortal, just like me, and they knew that I was their alpha dog. They loved to go for walks with me.

I spotted the wumpus by the plume of dust it kicked up. It was well inside the perimeter, gnawing at the corner of an old satellite Ford factory, a building gone to magnificent ruin, all crumbled walls and crazy, unsprung machines. The structural pillars stuck up all around it, like columns around a Greek temple.

The wumpus had the classic look. It stood about eight feet tall, with a hundred mouths on the ends of whipping tentacles. Its metallic finish was smeared with oily rainbows that wobbled as the dust swirled around it. The mouths whipped back and forth against the corner of the factory, taking chunks out of it. The chunks went into the hopper on its back and were broken up into their constituent atoms, reassembled into handy, safe, rich soil, and then ejected in a vertical plume that was visible even from several blocks away.

Wumpuses don’t put up much fight. They’re reclamation drones, not hunter-killer bots, and their main mode of attack was to assemble copies of themselves out of dead buildings faster than I could squash them. They weren’t much sport, but that was OK: there’s no
way
Dad would let me put his precious mecha at risk against any kind of big game. The pack loved hunting wumpus, anyway.

The air-drones swooped around it in tight arcs. They were usually piloted by Pepe, the hysterical chihuahua, who loved to have three points-of-view, it fit right in with his distracted, hyperactive approach to life. The wumpus didn’t even notice the drones until one of them came in so low that it tore through the tentacles, taking three clean off and disordering the remainder. The other air-drones did victory loops in the sky overhead, and the flea bounded so high that it practically disappeared from sight, then touched down right next to the wumpus.

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