The Wheeler Centre
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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.