The Next Chapter

Donald Trump made Cory Doctorow so anxious he wrote a book to feel better — now Radicalized is on Canada Reads

Radicalized, a collection of sci-fi novellas, will be defended by Akil Augustine on Canada Reads 2020.
Cory Doctorow is the author of Radicalized. (CBC)

Cory Doctorow is a bestselling sci-fi novelist whose past books include Little Brother and Walkaway. Doctorow was raised in Toronto and currently lives in Los Angeles. He's the editor of the blog Boing Boing.

His latest book is Radicalized, a collection of four science fiction novellas. Radicalized explores the quandaries — social, economic and technological — of contemporary America. Doctorow's characters deal with issues around immigration, corrupt police forces, dark web uprisings and more. 

Akil Augustine is defending Radicalized on Canada Reads 2020.

Canada Reads 2020 will take place July 20-23.

Doctorow talked to Shelagh Rogers about writing Radicalized.

A happy accident

"Writing the four novellas that make up Radicalized was partly an accident. I did not set out to write this book. I was working on another book — my third Little Brother book that's coming out later in 2020 —  and I was experiencing horrific Trump-related anxiety. I would get up every day feeling like it was the apocalypse — and go to bed every night feeling like the apocalypse was one day closer. I started to write these novellas therapeutically. 

I would get up every day feeling like it was the apocalypse — and go to bed every night feeling like the apocalypse was one day closer.- Cory Doctorow

"Novellas are a really awesome length. A short story is like travelling with just an overnight bag — you have to be rigorous in what you leave out of that bag. Writing a novel is like having all your stuff put in a shipping container to move across the ocean. But a novella is like checking a good roomy suitcase. You can put a lot of comfort items in there you're not sure you're going to need."

In their new books, Radicalized and Infinite Detail, they have created near-future dystopias full of controlling technologies, social division and rebellions against elevators, toasters and the internet.

Lived experience

"Every story has to be set somewhere. I have lived in many places. I like having a repertoire of places I can call up in my mind. I don't have to struggle to think about what happens next — or what the street furniture is like or who's shouting what out the car window — if I've lived in a place for a while."

Through the eyes of a Canadian

"I feel like I see the world through a Canadian lens, wherever I am. I try not to be one of those Canadians who gets offended if someone in America asks where I'm from. 

I feel like I see the world through a Canadian lens wherever I am.- Cory Doctorow

"We have a lot in common with our neighbours to the south. But we have some differences: there's some things that we have done right that they have been unable to manage, like our health care — and Canadian health care is far from perfect."

Cory Doctorow's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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