At St Kilda Town Hall, Cory Doctorow joins author C.S. Pacat for an expansive conversation about the imperfect present and foreseeable future.
For Doctorow, the purpose of science fiction is not to predict the future – but to understand the present.
The latest book from the irrepressible Canadian activist, editor, journalist and novelist is set in an alarmingly plausible, post-scarcity near future. In Walkaway, all labour is automated, and human beings are either super-rich or surplus. Chaos, violence and catastrophe ensue. Yet, Doctorow asserts, the novel is utopian.
‘Stories of futures in which disaster strikes and we rise to the occasion are a vaccine against the virus of mistrust,’ he has written. ‘The [best] science fiction tells us better nations are ours to build and lets us dream vividly of what it might be like to live in those nations.’
The fixations of Walkaway are the fixations that have defined Doctorow’s career. Through his fiction and journalism – including as a co-editor of Boing Boing – he has sparked and steered debates on digital rights, surveillance, automation, inequality and biotechnology. In all his work, Doctorow brings optimism and imagination as well as hardcore intellect; his idea of utopia is something weird, cooperative, messy and in constant flux.
Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger – the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of Walkaway, a novel 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 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 and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in Los Angeles.
C.S. Pacat is the best-selling author of the Captive Prince trilogy, and the comic Fence. Born in Australia and educated at the University of Melbourne, she has since lived in a number of cities, including Tokyo and Perugia. She currently resides and writes in Melbourne.
Her first novel began its life as an original-fiction web serial, which attracted viral attention before being acquired by Penguin USA. The Captive Prince trilogy went on to become a USA Today bestseller after being published to commercial success and critical acclaim.