Shelf Healing

Cory Doctorow Interview

December 22, 2020 Rebecca Markwick. Cory Doctorow Season 1 Episode 4
Shelf Healing
Cory Doctorow Interview
Show Notes Transcript

In this Shelf Healing interview we chat to Cory Doctorow,  science fiction author, activist, and journalist. We discuss therapeutic reading, writing, commonplace books, interesting use cases for CC licenced work, and what literature Cory reaches for to improve his own mental health. Cory's photograph by Jonathan Worth.

Link to Cory's website
Link to Cory's daily blog Pluralistic
Link to find all of Cory's books
Link to Cory's twitter account

Books and authors mentioned in the podcast:
Authors:
Cory Doctorow
Terry Pratchett
Stephen Berry (aka Neal Stephenson)
Bruce Sterling
Ayn Rand
Adolf Hitler
William Gibson
Daniel Pink Waters
Ray Bradbury
George Orwell
Iain M Banks
Ken MacLeod
Hannu Rajaniemi
Charlie Stross

Books:
Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow
Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett
Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
Interface by Stephen Berry (aka Neal Stephenson)
Distraction by Bruce Sterling
Someone comes to town, someone leaves town by Cory Doctorow
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
The Bible
Culture
novels by Iain M Banks
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Alan Mendelson, the boy from Mars by Daniel Pink Waters
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles by Cory Doctorow
1984 by George Orwell
Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Homeland by Cory Doctorow

 Shelf Healing interview with Cory Doctorow. Transcribed by Lukas Montgomery

00:00:07

Rebecca Markwick:

Before we start, if you could say your first and last name to make sure I pronounce it right and give your pronouns, that would be great.

 

00:00:18

Cory Doctorow:

I'm Cory Doctorow and my pronouns are he/him. 

 

Rebecca:

00:00:20

Hello and welcome to shelf healing UCL’s Bibliotherapy podcast. I'm your host, Rebecca Markwick, our guest today is Cory Doctorow. Cory is a Canadian who has lived in London in the UK and now lives in L.A. in America. He is a multi-award winning science fiction author, a nonfiction author, an activist and a journalist. He is a special consultant to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit civil liberties group that defends freedom in technology, law, policy, standards and treaties. He is a visiting professor at the Open University, and at the University of North Carolina School of Library and Information Science. Cory is a strong proponent of the Creative Commons form of copyright and on net neutrality. Cory's latest novel, Attack Surface, was published by Tor in October. It's on my Christmas list and is available on Cory’s website and in a variety of lovely independent bookshops.

 

Cory:

00:01:15

And I should mention it’s a Head of Zeus title in the U.K

 

Rebecca:

00:01:18

First question to get us started is nice and easy. Do you feel that reading can be therapeutic? 

 

00:01:26

Cory:

Yes, I think the aesthetic impact of reading, I think arises- of fiction reading, arises from a kind of pleasurable cognitive illusion. I think that when we encounter people in the real world, we automatically and without any conscious intervention or conscious knowledge, build models of those people. So we see someone, we infer some things about them, we hear something about them, and those models are varying degrees of fidelity. The more information we get, the higher the fidelity of the model becomes as a means of predicting other people. There's obviously some utility there and knowing who you can trust and who you should call on when you need help. But that model lives on even when the people who it refers to aren't there anymore. So if your mother dies, you can still imagine what she'd say about the state of your bedroom. And I think when we read fiction, the same thing happens that these models are just built up automatically without us noticing, and that the reason we experience empathy for these inconsequential people, people who never lived, never died and nothing that ever happened to the matter. Which is why we have an aesthetic response to fiction it all, right? Hope, fear, laughter, triumph. All of that comes from empathizing with imaginary people who are doing things that didn't happen is, because that's how we experience empathy for real people too. When, when you hear that someone's broken their leg, you imagine the model in distress, and that allows you to imagine what they would be feeling as well. You know this cognitive illusion, this pleasurable cognitive illusion is therapeutic in the sense that, well, a couple of senses. So one is that it gives you this vicarious sense of triumph as you experience the characters doing good things. But there's also a sense of kind of soothing of anxiety and being on the sidelines of someone else resolving difficult problems. I think that it comes from a kind of innate understanding that if you watch someone else solve a different, difficult problem and you watch carefully enough, then if you encounter that problem, you won't be helpless, right that you will have a new arrow in your quiver that arises from this, this experience. And, you know, I think that's the kind of most charitable explanation for nosiness. Right? If your dinner at a restaurant a couple of the next table is breaking up, the reason you eavesdrop is not merely morbid curiosity. It's because it's a difficult situation that no one knows how to handle and, you know, short of actually having a series of breakups, the best way to find out how to manage that gracefully is to watch someone else do it. So there is that very therapeutic element to reading. I think that there's a very related process in writing that the, you know, this old saw that writers will cough up about how my characters just tell me what they want to do. I don't think it's merely being precious, although there's a certain amount of preciousness when it comes to writing, I think that it's the same process in reverse that as you write the words on the screen or the page that describe the imaginary person, the part of your brain that just builds models, reads those words and naively just recycles them into a model not even knowing, you know, that you're like basically breathing your own farts right that you're taking the exhaust of your process and feeding it back in as an input. And that's why, at a certain point when you're writing, the engine catches right and the characters just start running around doing stuff. And that's also why I think there's a real danger to breaking off from writing to revise, because when you forcibly remind yourself that you made up all these people and that the model refers to nothing, then you are like Wiley Coyote, who has run off the cliff and was doing fine so long as you didn't look down and forcibly remind yourself that there's no ground underneath your feet. Once you make the mistake of confirming the solidity of the ground under your feet, you fall and you have to start over again. With the book, the book becomes a dead thing that needs to be rekindled because that process that kind of gives you the helping hand has been halted by you and your foolish need to go back and revise before you've completed. 

 

00:05:36

Rebecca:

That's really interesting. I hadn't- I hadn't quite thought of that aspect of writing and revision. That's very astute. 

 

00:05:45

Cory:

Yeah, I think this. I mean, people have different views on this, but I am now quasi-religious about not revising or even re-reading beyond trying to consult, you know key detail. And even then, I will often just make myself a note to go back later and consult the key detail on, only forward, right? Only forward, never backward. The time to look back is when you're done and the temptation to look back. It's so fierce because once- you know a novel has too many pieces to keep them all in your mind at once. There has to be some unconscious, learned, subliminal stuff going on to carry the novel forward. And that is a feeling a little like the feeling if you've ever gotten while you're driving or walking a familiar route and you're like, Did I- is my signal light on? Did I remember to put my indicator on? Because I'm about to turn left and you look down and the indicator is on. You've just done it automatically. But if you then say goodness me, I don't I didn't even remember doing it. I'm going to pay attention to everything I do now, while I drive like, how hard is my foot pressing on the accelerator? You can't drive right? And so you know, if you- if you allow yourself to give in to the anxiety about the fact that you are juggling through muscle memory instead of through conscious physics calculations, then you will have to fall back on conscious physics calculations to do the juggling, and you'll drop all the balls.

 

00:07:14

Rebecca:

That’s very true. What kind of books do you reach for when you want to sort of improve your sense of mental wellbeing? 

 

00:07:21

Cory:

Well, I mean in general, of course, familiar books and novels in particular. And I- there's a stack of novels I've re read many times. But, you know, when I was preparing for this interview, there's an obvious answer to this, which is that every single night without fail, I listen to a loop of about 20 Terry Pratchett novels on my phone, and I as my sleep quality is degraded. I have chronic pain issues and I find it hard to sleep through the night. Plus, I'm a man of a certain age who now has to get up to pee at 2 a.m. and I now just keep it running all night. It's what puts me back to sleep. And I have a Bluetooth, soft headband with a couple of little earbuds in it or not earbuds but little speakers, and it's got a little controller in the middle of the forehead. My wife will sometimes reach over and press the fast forward button just to prank me. And I have ripped, you know, literally like 20 Discworld novels, and I just fall asleep listening to them and they just roll around all the way around. And there's long passages I can quote from memory and so on. They're just so satisfying and soothing, even the quite silly ones. Even books like Pyramids are really very soothing. 

 

00:08:27

Rebecca:

I'm also a Terry Pratchett, audiobook fan at bedtime, I love them. You're going to have to send me a link to that soft headband because I just put everything on my little hifi. 

 

00:08:39

Cory:

Yeah, this is much easier if you have a romantic partner who shares your bed. It is much easier to have these headbands also, you know, I used to you know, when I lived in the UK, I would fly to the North American landmass Canada, the US or sometimes Mexico up to four times a month. And I had a whole little procedure. I called it the most comfortable man in the sky kit, where I had a sleeping bag from Canada's beloved and now gone to a hedge fund, mountain equipment co-op that is down on one side and silk on the other so you could choose how warm you wanted to be and folded down to the size of, you know, like a can of soup. And I had a buckwheat eye mask and fuzzy slippers and strong prescription pain medication. A hot water bottle, an ice pack and I would get on the plane, change into my jimjams, get in my sleeping bag, get my ice pack and my hot water bottle filled up by the flight attendant, pack them around my very sore, muscular, skeletal elements, put on my headband, put on the Terry Pratchett novel and just estivate like a lungfish for like, 12 hours across the Atlantic to the West Coast. It was, it was a real, like, kind of comfort thing for me. 

 

00:09:56

Rebecca:

Are they, are they all narrated by the same person because most of mine are Tony Robinson.

 

00:10:03

Cory:

Yeah. So I have a bunch of different ones. I have the Tony Robinson ones. I have- those I think are the abridged Corgi ones. Yeah. So those are nice abridgements. They're actually quite good abridgements, but they are abridgements. The full length ones. Let me find the narrator. Hang on. They're here on my phone. Stephen Briggs is the narrator of the full. The best of the there are other narrators. But that Briggs is the main narrator these full length ones. 

 

00:10:25

Rebecca:

Yeah. Oh, yes. Yeah. He's the best. Yeah. Is there a specific time or a place that you read? 

 

00:10:32

Cory:

So I try to- my reading for pleasure and even just my book reading altogether. Even when not for pleasure when it's for review or a blurb which are pleasurable experiences have become really constrained. The plague has not been good to me in terms of my first of all my ability to relax, but also my workload. My workload went way, way up. I had four books out in 2020. And while touring is a burden trying to promote books when there are no tours is far more time consuming. And so I'm I really been out of pocket for time. And also the fact that I couldn't see my physiotherapist has made my pain a lot worse. And it got to the point where I just couldn't sit in my chair anymore, and we live in Southern California. So we hung a hammock in the backyard and put up a shade umbrella. And I worked in the hammock for about four weeks this summer, just like literally from, you know, five in the morning when I got up until supper time. That's where I was doing a lot of my reading, and I still do like if I've got a book I want to read, and I'm taking some time to read it. I was trying an experimental back therapy that involves suspension from a door frame for these long periods. It was quite uncomfortable and didn't work, but I had 20 minutes every morning where I would just, you know, have to set a timer for three minutes and then change postures and so on. So I would just like hang myself from the door frame and then grab a book and my phone and, you know, set the timer on my phone and read the book for three minutes, and then the phone alarm would go off and I'd change postures and get the book back out. So I was doing a lot of reading that way. And frankly, I guess I stopped that last week, and I haven't done any since. So I need this weekend I'm really hoping to get to some reading 

 

 

 

00:12:09

Rebecca:

What you mentioned earlier, that there are books that you returned to over and over again. What are they and what do you think it is that draws you back to them? Is it a sense of nostalgia, a sense of old friends, just amazing characters and plotting or something else entirely?

 

00:12:24

Cory:

Yeah, all of the above. There's a couple of books that I read really regularly. Neal Stephenson's Interface, which he wrote under the name Stephen Berry, and Bruce Sterling's Distraction, which are both comedic cyberpunk election novels about disinformation and election campaigns. They're very funny. They're very witty. They're both pretty cynical, and I try not to be a cynic, but I have a secret, you know, love of cynicism as a comedic form, and they're both very insightful about the political process. 

 

00:12:58

Rebecca:

Imagine, that's quite a nice thing to re reading it at this point in 2020.

 

00:13:03

Cory:

Yeah, very much so. 

 

00:13:05

Rebecca:

As you've mentioned this a little bit before. And if you I want to just skip over the question, feel free. But as a writer, do you find that writing is therapeutic? 

 

00:13:14

Cory:

Writing is definitely therapeutic in the sense that it requires you to engage a different kind of cognition and to move away from the present moment and into an imaginary moment and so you, while you can reflect on your current anxieties and your obsessions in your fiction, you have to do so from a kind of emotional distance. That is itself, I think, very therapeutic. Yeah, and I guess writing is a way to find out what's going on in your, in your mind, right, because the this basis by which you go from being let me say that again. You know this thing where you can't hold the whole book in your head at once, and you have to engage your subconscious means that you're finding out what's happening in your subconscious. So I have a novel, Someone comes to town, someone leaves town that came out in 2006, and I started it. When did I started? I started it in 2000, and my parents came out to visit me when I was living in San Francisco, and we went out to stay in a bed and breakfast in Wine Country in Napa and I couldn't sleep, and I had my little room and I started writing and I wrote like the first. I don't know how many 10,000 words of this novel and stayed up quite late and then just stuck it on a shelf and never went back to it. And then I got stuck writing another novel that I was unwise enough to try and revise, and I couldn't revise it once I tried. That was the last book I ever tried to revise while I was writing it and the book died, and so I was quite sad and I went back to this novel. This was at least two years later, and I started writing a couple of pages every day, which is the way that I write, and I finished it about six months or eight months later. And as I was getting towards the end, I realized that the ending I had been writing towards was not the ending I wanted to write. It wasn't gonna fit. And I came up. You know, I was quite, you know, enervating to realize that I kind of squandered all this work and I was gonna have to do this major rewrite. Once I came up with another ending and kind of moped and walked around and came up with an ending after a couple of weeks, wrote that ending, printed out the book, turned the manuscript over, looked at that first page that I had written in the middle of the night in a hotel room in Napa at this point 5 years earlier and realized that I'd foreshadowed the ending that I just wrote and that I didn't know I was going to write this ending consciously until I wrote it. But I'd known all along unconsciously, that I was going to write it, that it was, that it was latent there in the book from the start. 

 

00:15:50

Rebecca:

That's incredible and probably quite satisfying when you realize that 

 

00:15:53

Cory:

Very much so. Yeah, very much so and, you know, kind of spooky. You know, like to get there, you know, and to realize that it's just been going on the whole time that, you know, it's a bit. It's a bit end of the Wizard of Oz, right? You've had your courage all along, you know, you just didn't know it. 

 

00:16:12

Rebecca:

Yeah. Is there a book that has profoundly affected you as a reader or as a writer?

 

00:16:18

Cory:

So I'm always leery of people who claim one book changed their life. If you're a one book person, that book is inevitably something like Atlas Shrugged or Mein Kampf or the Bible. You know, there are many books that have really changed my life as a cyberpunk writer. How could I not say Neuromancer? You know, it's reading that book. Probably read it around 1985. I got it. I got it at a mall bookstore that a friend of mine worked at. And this was at a time when bookstores had mass market paperbacks on consignment and they could return them for credit if they didn't sell. And because the books were cheaper to reprint than to ship. You didn't have to send the whole book back. You just tear the cover off, which is called book stripping, and you send the cover back to the publisher as proof that the book was destroyed. And if you have a friend who worked in a mall bookstore, they would strip books for you and just give them to you. And you know, now Bill Gibson's quite a good friend, and I feel sorry that I ripped him off back then, but, and the lovely people at Ace Books. But that was how I read that book, and it completely blew my mind, you know, just absolutely stunning novel. Yeah, Daniel Pink Waters. Alan Mendelson, the boy from Mars. You know, I think he's written better books, but that was the book that blew my mind because it was the first one of his. I read the first book I ever read to myself, was Alice in Wonderland. And, you know, I'm now married to a woman called Alice. That's probably not coincidental. 

 

00:17:47

Rebecca:

Are you still a big collector of Wonderland books? 

 

00:17:51

Cory:

Oh, yeah, I've got several. Yeah. In fact, there's a rare book dealer in central London off Oxford Street. So I used to work at Marble Arch, and I used to walk from Tottenham Court Road and trying to remember where I would turn off south off Oxford Street halfway along. You know, before you get to God, I'm blowing my buffer on the names of all the neighborhoods. It's been so long so it's like Fitzrow via anyway. Forget it. So, yeah, there was a rare book dealer there who knew me well and would call me when a good Alice would come in and I we got some very nice Alices there. It was a very reliable Christmas present for a long time for my wife.

 

00:18:30

Rebecca:

Leads on to my next question. Have you got any beautiful books? 

 

00:18:37

Cory:

Oh, I've got yeah, heaps, heaps and heaps of a very beautiful books. I'm a sucker for them. Got a lot of portfolio society editions, got a lot of nice firsts. We live near Pasadena, where the Rose Bowl flea market is held every third Sunday and there are a couple of book dealers that turn up there who have stupendous finds. They're just great, like a state pickers. We have a really nice, massive, beloved used bookstore Iliad Books, which is a short walk away from here there. Also, they have amazing rare book room, and there's a book there that I've- I still can't bring myself to buy. But Glen Cook is this great science fiction writer who is also a book dealer, which was his side hustle for a long time. He worked for GM on a line and he would keep a pad and a pencil next to him, and the part that he needed to screw a widget on would be moved in front of him on the line. And he would screw the part on while thinking of his next sentence than he would jot it down. And then he got moved up to management and he no longer worked on the line, and he stopped writing for a while. So he quit his job and just went full time is a book dealer, and he sold his copy of The Martian Chronicles, which is signed and inscribed to him by Bradbury. It's a- it's a first in really nice shape, and it is in the rare book room at Iliad, and it's about $350 and I mean there's a plague on, my income took a really savage beating this year. There is no way I can justify buying this book, but I mean, The Martian Chronicles, one of my favorite books of all times. I wrote a novella in tribute to The Martian Chronicles called The Martian Chronicles. It's been adapted for audio a couple of times and reprinted pretty widely, and it would just be such a wonderful thing to own. But I do not own it. My, on the other hand, my wife did give me a first hard cover of 1984 for Christmas and a first paperback of Road to Wigan Pier and the first paperback of Animal Farm. Which are quite good. 

 

 

00:20:40

Rebecca:

Your wife is the ultimate wife. 

 

00:20:42

Cory:

She is a very good wife.

 

00:20:44

Rebecca:

I'm very jealous now. As someone so invested in Internet freedoms and the right to privacy. Do you find yourself turning to books in times of struggle with your activism?

 

00:20:57

Cory:

Not more than I do in times of struggle with anything else. I mean, you know, to the extent that books are a good way to, you know, self soothe, they work equally well for other things. But I wouldn't say that there's anything particular about the privacy fight that makes books you know more, more exciting. 

 

00:21:16

Rebecca:

Don't go delving into any of The Culture series?

 

00:21:18

Cory:

Well I mean, I've read all of Banks, I mean for sure. And I met him once in Edinburgh with when I was up there with Charlie Stross because we wrote a book together. You know, the, the Edinburgh writing scene was pretty small, So we all got together. You had a pub Ken MacLeod, and Hannu and so on it was quite nice. Um, and he was, he was a swell person. And I don't know if you recall Elon Musk tweeted that he considered himself a utopian socialist in the model of Banks while he was under multiple investigations for labor abuses in his factories. And I wrote back to him and said, look, I knew Banks. He was an ardent trade unionist. It is very hard to square. Your description of yourself is being in the model of Banks if you are undergoing labor investigations and if you are on record as opposing a union in your factory and Musk said but there were no there were no unions in the culture novels. They didn't need to form unions in the culture novels. And I said yes. But the Culture novels involved this hi-tech society where you have a trillion people living on a solar system size space ship crewed by galactic brain, artificial intelligences that can travel faster than the speed of light. And he said, Well, we have very advanced factories, and I, and I said, You know, forgive me. But the scale of Banks’ creation is far in excess of eking out marginal gains in the production of electric cars. And he said, you are beneath contempt and blocked me.

 

00:22:48

Rebecca:

You keep a daily blog, a very nice daily blog. Do you find this aspect of daily writing helps you with your mental health? 

 

 

00:22:59

Cory:

Oh, yeah. I mean, not just my mental health, but also the production, more synthetic work. So in the same way that eavesdropping on someone who is in crisis can be soothing because it helps you imagine how you might go through the crisis, You know, Daniel Dennett calls that an intuition pump being buffeted by headlines, many of them quite worrying, can be tamed by taking each of those headlines that snags your attention and really giving it some thought about what it is that excited your attention there, what worries you about it and how it connects to the other things that you've seen lately. And although writers have kept commonplace books personal notebooks for as long as there have been notebooks, it's very easy to cheat in those notebooks. Very easy to write notes that are so abbreviated and therefore lazy that you know, they not only don't do the therapeutic work, but they also they don't help you, right? They don't, they're not the aide memoire that you would hope that notes would be. And so writing for like, a notional public audience, kind of it's like it gives you a much better like rigorous understanding of what it is you’re thinking about, right. It imposes rigor on your note taking, and that's also pneumonic. You know, the process of really thinking it through writing it up helps you recall it later and helps you find connections. And so I think of it is like turning my subconscious into like a super saturated solution of fragmentary story ideas, and that you know, sometimes they like, glom together and nucleate and crystallize, and you get a short story, a novel or an essay or speech or nonfiction book out of it. And you know, you have this searchable database right in the form of a blog that you can go back to refresh your memory. And so it does lend itself to a kind of a creative and synthetic way of thinking about the world 

 

 

00:24:52

Rebecca:

For anyone that doesn't know you can actually access all of Cory's books on his website. I love your reasoning behind this because you think if people read the electronic copy, they're more likely to buy a physical copy, which I believe is true. But do you feel like there's some semblance of sort of helping other people's mental health by letting them access your very excellent novels and essays, particularly in the area of sci fi and cyberpunk that you work with that kind of near future thing. Do you think that making it available for people to access helps other people's wellbeing? 

 

 

00:25:25

Cory:

So I mean, I should note that for the last three books, my publisher has not let me do Creative Commons releases so it's not anymore, although, you know, it's like I had books that were Creative Commons license that were massive bestsellers. And I had books that were Creative Commons licenses that sold modestly and had books that weren't creative Commons license that still really well and others that sold really modestly. So I don't think it is dispositive, but they were worried about it. And, you know, the world of publishing is down to five major publishers, and so you don't get really get to shop around. If your publisher doesn't like your plan, there's gotta be some, you know, surrender of principle there at the cost of just losing access to all the services that you get from a publisher, which is good. They do good work. They do important things for me. I think that there's definitely there's definitely a lot of people who have written to me and spoken to me about the way that being able to access digital copies helped them out when, especially when they were in circumstances that were difficult. I had and have the whole crew of fans in the Canadian military on an aircraft carrier who downloaded an imprint printed out Little Brother and passed it around. I just signed a book. I did this virtual tour for Attack Surface, and then I arranged with my publisher in the bookstores that I did the events with that people who bought the book from the store the store could instead of having their order shipped to the store, which was closed, they could have a ship to my house, and then I would sign and fulfill the orders and so they could get signed books to their to the attendees. And I was. The epigraph I was writing was, you know, solidarity forever because it's a book about solidarity. And I heard from a reader who said, You know, I was doing a long stretch in a Florida prison and the prison library basically was non existent. It was impossible to access. You had to trade favors, bribe people to get access to the library, and my family weren't allowed to send me books, but they could send me letters of up to 15 pages in any quantity. And so they printed all your books and 15 page trenches and mailed them to me, and they are still circulating in the prison. I've been out for years and they're still circulating in the prison, and they meant a lot to me. They were they were the thing that kept me sane in my cell. So those were some pretty extreme examples. But, you know, I've heard a lot from kids and adults who didn't have much for whom the electronic copies meant a lot. I've also heard a lot from people who have various kinds of disabilities. You know there are statutory exemptions to copyright for people who have visual disabilities, but those exemptions are patchy. I worked on a treaty called the Treaty of Marrakech that tries to harmonize these around the world, but there it has not been widely adopted and where it has been adopted, it hasn't been adopted in full compliance with the treaty language. And so that means that people, for example, who have what's the word? I'm looking for dyslexia, people who are dyslexic, who experienced spoken word better and need copies that they can run through a text to speech engine people who have physical disabilities. You know there are people who are sighted and have no cognitive impairments, but are paralyzed and need electronic texts and need electronic texts that they can feed into a specialized reader that they can control with a puffer or with eye movements. That, you know, is not a thing that you could do with your Kindle right? Those people have been very enthusiastic about the book as well, so you know there are lots of ways in which the books in those open formats help people beyond getting them for free right getting them in. You know, there are people who have the ability to pay but no ability to buy. And there are people who have the ability to pay and the ability to buy but no ability to read it, and the formats in which it's offered and devolving control of the presentation and consumption of the work to the reader empowers readers who have used cases that are really important but not available. You know not ones that I can anticipate from my own life very far from where they live and under circumstances, you know that are that are totally removed from their life circumstances. 

 

 

00:29:35

Rebecca:

I think it's fabulous that a lot of your work, particularly Little Brother and Homeland that came after it are available. There's such brilliant books, especially for young adults. Always push anyone I'm tutoring. to give it a read, you know. 

 

00:29:42

Cory:

Oh, that's really lovely. Thank you. I mean, you know, to that end, one of the things I've heard a lot of is teachers and underfunded schools, you know, K to 12 schools that- not tertiary education but even then who say look we don’t have a budget for books just, we no longer can afford books at all in our school, especially in the great financial crises and the austerity that followed. We can give your book to our students, we can assign it every year and know that they can all access it. And you know, some of those students, from a perfectly parochial selfish perspective, those students then grow up having been exposed to my work and to the extent that they find a commercial life, you know, an economically independent life where they can afford to buy books, well they’ve got a new favorite author. An author they grew up with.

 

00:30:37

Rebecca:

This has been a brilliant interview. So much better than I could even imagine, and I had high expectations because I am a fan of yours and I have been watching the lectures and I know how good  at speaking on literature you are, so I was looking forward to this.

 

00:30:52

Cory:

I really appreciate that. British librarianship is extremely well organized and politicised in a really good way.

 

00:31:03

Rebecca:

I’ll pop all of the books you’ve mentioned and all of the authors and a link to your blog as well into our show notes so people can come find you and read all your books and love all your cool stuff. Cory is also super on it on twitter and posts a wide variety of really cool and interesting pictures and discussions and all sorts, so go follow him on twitter as well. I have thoroughly enjoyed chatting with you so thank you very much.

 

00:31:30

Cory:

Oh lovely, it’s mutual.

 

00:31:31

Rebecca:

That’s the end of a really brilliant interview with Cory Doctorow. That’s it for this week’s episode of Shelf Healing. I’ll be back next week with another. Thanks as always to Nicholas Patrick for our music and to Lukas Montgomery for the lovely transcripts of our episodes.