This fall, Technology Review is publishing TR:SF, an collection of all-new science fiction stories. We’ve put together a slate of writers that includes established award-winners alongside emerging authors. Over the summer, we’ll be announcing one author each week, starting with Cory Doctorow.
Doctorow is a science fiction novelist and journalist. He’s also the co-editor of the popular Boing Boing blog and was the former director of European affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. His 2008 bestselling novel Little Brother was nominated for some of the biggest awards in science fiction, the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards.
But the work that convinced us that we had to approach Doctorow about writing an original story for TR:SF was his 2006 short story, “I, Row-Boat.” The title riffs on the name of one of Isaac Asimov’s most famous books, a collection of robot stories called I, Robot. In Asimov’s tales, robots have three laws hardwired into their brains - to protect humans, to obey humans, and to preserve their own existence whenever possible. The hero of “I, Row-Boat,” on the other hand, is a self-aware watercraft that’s read Asimov’s fiction, and consequently spends a lot of its time engaged in online debates with other artificial intelligences over just how seriously one is supposed to take the three laws. The story, which you can read here, is full of wry humor and thoughtful imagination, which has carried over into the story he has written for us.
While I don’t want to give any spoilers, the stories in TR:SF will be organized around the same themes that we cover as journalists in Technology Review (computing, the Web/Internet, communications, energy, materials, and biomedicine) and Doctorow’s story will be under the Web/Internet rubric. While you’re waiting for it to appear in TR:SF, you can read more Doctorow in his latest collection of short stories, With a Little Help (available electronically on a name-your-price basis from Doctorow’s website. Or if you want to buy something physical, he’ll print up paperback editions on demand.)