Radicalized by Cory Doctorow is a set of 4 short stories that examine where our world is, and where it could be going if we don’t take steps to intervene in the path we are currently walking.
We start with a look at immigration in the US and watch Salima finally get a real apartment to stay in after a long period in camps which are much like prisons. The big problem is that the subsidized apartments come with capitalist trappings of freedom of choice in the forms of appliances that only allow her to use bread authorized by the company. That’s why you get the appliances cheap, the bread is expensive.
We follow her as the companies go under, thus appliances won’t work, and watch her jailbreak them. Then companies are bought out and she starts looking at real jail time, or deportation and loss of a place of safety.
Of course the capitalists in this tell her she had a choice to stay in a camp little better than jail instead of getting the nanny appliances that control her life. Though that never seems like a real choice.
Second we look at a superman like character who is finally done with racism in policing. He stands up only to find out that the veneer of “whiteness” that society has painted him with only lasted while he was willing to hold up the status quo of white supremacy.
Third, we watch the American health system knowingly let people die because it’s too expensive to allow them life. We watch regular people start a bombing campaign against insurance companies who do everything they can to avoid paying for the services you’ve been buying. Even in Canada I see health care getting gutted in a way that will make it easy to say that it’s ineffective and we should privatize more of our health care system. Of course this will only really affect those that don’t have the money to pay the inflated market rates for health care.
Finally, we follow a group of people as they try to survive the end of the world. Markets crash, pandemics come, and they try to survive it.
While these stories are fictional events, they contain plenty of truth in them and will leave you questioning many of the assumptions around us. TV companies already try to monitor everything you do with your smart TV so that they can sell the data. Appliances have computers in them that may break and render them inoperable even when all the regular parts work as intended.
Overall, I’m looking forward to more books from Doctorow I have coming be they fiction or non-fiction.
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