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I, Name Stealer

The Infinite Matrix has been updated recently and includes a new short story by Cory Doctorow called “I, Robot“.

This continues Cory’s running bit on naming stories after already-existing works of science fiction. I read in a his Locus interview that this was in reaction to Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury getting annoyed at Michael Moore for leveraging the Fahrenheit name for his controversial documentary. (“…to assert that the person who comes up with the meme has the right to control the condition as to who can riff on that meme is not just ironic, it’s ludicrous!”) Another title “borrowed” by Doctorow is “Jeffty Is Five”, originally written by Harlan Ellison who Doctorow calls an “antitechnological guy”.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

7 Comments on I, Name Stealer

  1. That reminds me of something from the Monty Python CD, the final ripoff (I think that was the title). There a bit where some schmo goes into a bookstore for books written by Edmund Wells titled, Rarnaby Budge, ‘Grate Expectations’, and David Coperfield with only one P, rather than David Copperfield with two p’s. Having never read this chap, you would certainly hope that he’s a good writer, because this sort of foolishness has always made me want to whack the secondary author with a hard stick. Irritating little git.

    Doug

  2. I am increasingly of the firm opinion that Cory Doctorow is so full of **** that his teeth are brown.

  3. I thought Doctorow’s comments came across as disrespectful and even a little immature. Yeah, yeah he’s all for freedom of information blah, blah, blah. But badmouthing the pioneers of your chosen profession just comes across as arrogant.

  4. I haven’t read Doctorow or his comments, but Ellison is anti-technology. I believe he’s written some fantastic stuff so this is in no way a slam on his abilities as a writer, but he’s near to being a Luddite.

    He personally eschews the use of PCs – not just for writing (I understand some authors are in love with their beat up old typewriters) but in general. He doesn’t see any redeeming value in the Internet and has derided the users of it.

    But he goes further than that – he believes that writers who use computers begin to write in a slovenly fashion. This is the start of a downward trend in his opinion.

    Take a look at this interesting interview with him. Now I suppose if you’re a huge Ellison fan and think he can speak no wrong you’ll see this as the refutation he intended – that somehow he’s just misunderstood as somebody who warns us about the dangers of abusing technology and not against technological progress itself.

    However, this argument sounds a little hollow to me and frankly arrogant. A tool is a tool. Use the right tool for the job you are doing. Writing on a computer is easier for many than using a typewriter. Is it perfect? No, of course not. But it is easier for a lot of people – so for them it is the right tool.

    As an anlogy, you can make furniture (say a bookshelf) using all unpowered hand tools – that is, chisels, hand saws, and hand planes. You can make a similar bookshelf using the latest in modern power tools – with jointers, routers, and table saws. One person may find the slow and careful work of hand tools to be relaxing and enjoyable while another may feel the precision gained from power tools and gives them a sense of order and perfection they can’t get any other way. Is the end result any less a creative or artistic effort on the part of the woodworker? Hardly.

    So is the novel written on a PC using a word processor any less a creative or artistic effort than the one written using a typewriter? Hardly. To state otherwise is arrogance on the part of somebody who prefers one approch over the other. Neither is right or better for all of us – just the right tool for that individual.

    Ellison states that art should be hard, that the creative process needs to be painful to be good. That may well be for him – here is me wishing that Ellison’s future endevours be the hardest and most painful yet. However, it is only pride that would say that this applies to everybody in the world.

    Finally, his sentiments on the Internet are flat out foolish. Yes, there is a lot of useless stuff on the web. So what? How does this hurt? People are discerning – don’t underestimate the ability of people to recognize bullshit. But along with his so-called ‘disgorgment of the bowels’ we get plenty of amazing things you wouldn’t get any other way. People whose voice could never be heard are being heard – kids in Afghanistan, fighters in Iraq, and the latest thoughts in science straight from the researchers themselves. And it lets us mere mortals communicate with each other in a way not previously possible. As an example, I got to read FredK’s write-up on 911 that brought his personal experience home to me in a way I would NEVER have gotten in the past.

    The Internet an amazing thing (much more than a tool) – and to say otherwise is simply foolish.

  5. Slahsot reaction on the Doctorow piece.

  6. He may be anti-technology, but Ellison has released a number of stories and at least one collection in eBook format. And, he has a website.

    Maybe he’s changed?

  7. He doesn’t have a website. A fan has a website with his permission.

    And he didn’t release an eBook, his publisher decided to do that.

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