Petard: A Tale of Just Deserts • 2014 • near SF short story by Cory Doctorow


Meta: ISFDB. This Near SF short story appeared in the 2014 anthology Twelve Tomorrows, my review here.

The best story in this anthology.

This is the first time I read anything from Cory Doctorow, though he is well-known and won a couple of awards, e.g. Locus, Campbell or Prometheus.

Big companies maximize their profit by lowering quality of their sold service. It might be a school canteen providing uneatable food or a corporation renting flats within the MIT including internet access but blocking too much.

In this hacktivism story, i.e. „electronic direct action as working toward social change by combining programming skills with critical thinking“ (according to Wikipedia), protagonist Lukas is coming-of-age.  He fights against those rotting, exploiting systems by returning the market impulse back to the people – pupils and tenants in these cases – under the title of „Fight the Power“. But things are not that black-and-white like in similar stories, e.g. Erin Brokovich: Rebels might be corrupt, and corporation’s employees might be smart and even likeable.

It is a very nice flowing story with solid futuristic setting, a likeable character who develops. Lots of good, sometimes funny ideas are embedded in the story.


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