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Pirate Cinema [Hardcover]

Cory Doctorow
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 2 2012
From the New York Times bestselling author of Little Brother, Cory Doctorow, comes Pirate Cinema, a new tale of a brilliant hacker runaway who finds himself standing up to tyranny.
 
Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net. In the dystopian near-future Britain where Trent is growing up, this is more illegal than ever; the punishment for being caught three times is that your entire household’s access to the internet is cut off for a year, with no appeal.

Trent's too clever for that too happen. Except it does, and it nearly destroys his family. Shamed and shattered, Trent runs away to London, where he slowly learns the ways of staying alive on the streets. This brings him in touch with a demimonde of artists and activists who are trying to fight a new bill that will criminalize even more harmless internet creativity, making felons of millions of British citizens at a stroke. 

Things look bad. Parliament is in power of a few wealthy media conglomerates. But the powers-that-be haven’t entirely reckoned with the power of a gripping movie to change people’s minds….

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Pirate Cinema + Homeland + Little Brother
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Review

“Doctorow is indispensible. It's hard to imagine any other author taking on youth and technology with such passion, intelligence, and understanding.”—Booklist, starred review on For The Win

Praise for Little Brother:

“Generally awesome in the more vernacular sense: It's pretty freaking cool... He's also terrific at finding the human aura shimmering around technology."  —The Los Angeles Times

“A believable and frightening tale of a near-future San Francisco… Filled with sharp dialogue and detailed descriptions…within a tautly crafted fictional framework.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Doctorow pays homage to [1984] with an impassioned, polemical consideration of the War on Terror that dovetails with themes of teenage angst, rebellion, and paranoia ... Little Brother should easily find favor with fans of M. T. Anderson's Feed, Janet Tashjian's The Gospel According to Larry, and Scott Westerfeld's So Yesterday.” —Horn Book(starred review)

“Readers will delight in the details of how Marcus attempts to stage a techno-revolution… Buy multiple copies; this book will be h4wt (that’s ‘hot,’ for the nonhackers).”  —Booklist (starred review)

About the Author

CORY DOCTOROW is a coeditor of Boing Boing and a columnist for multiple publications including the Guardian, Locus, and Publishers Weekly. He was named one of the Web’s twenty-five influencers by Forbes magazine and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.  His award-winning novel Little Brother was a New York Times bestseller. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Important topic though story a bit dry April 5 2014
By Christa Seeley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
In Pirate Cinema, Cory Doctorow addresses a lot of very real concerns, especially for today’s younger generation. Illegal downloading, internet monitoring, increasingly Orwellian laws being passed with little debate in government. I think a lot of readers will be sympathetic to the characters in this novel and their rebellion against the system. Doctorow goes into a lot of detail about how certain laws come into being and what their effect will be on society – not surprising since he himself is a vocal activist for similar causes in real life.

It’s not without it’s flaws however. At times I felt a little dragged down by the amount of legal and technical detail in the book. He didn’t always find that balance between informative and preachy. Also many of the characters were homeless and I found he depicted their life through rose coloured glasses. Other then a few occasional troubles, their life of the streets didn’t seem to bad – in fact it often seemed better then my own. They were a very colourful and charming bunch of characters, however, and given that it was based in London it had a very Charles Dickens feel to it (just much more cheery).

Pirate Cinema is a timely and informative and most of all important book. It’s not perfect by any means but if you can get past all the legal and political jargon I think you’ll feel better informed having read it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  54 reviews
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit leaden Oct. 9 2012
By Woolfhound - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of Doctorow and really like how he's done YA work - such as Little Brother - that doesn't talk down to its audience (& as a result makes good reading for not not-Y A's out there). But this is just a bit leaden, with characters too often suddenly regurgitating the author's essay work on topics like Trusted Computing and copyright law. Suddenly the novel seems to have turned into a public service announcement for a while.

So this is a bit disappointing, largely because of the high expectations set by Doctorow's much more deftly-executed work around some of these same themes.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Cory Doctorow at his best Oct. 5 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm Cory Doctorow fan, having loved Makers, Little Brother, and For the Win: A Novel.

Like Little Brother, we have another young adult protagonist and his super-smart female love interest and their tribe, who become outraged at government and corporate interests and take action to improve the world.

As in other Doctorow novels, we get great, really rich settings. This one takes place in London's street/squatter scene. It's hard to imagine that Doctorow could write this stuff without having lived it himself. I'd love to spend six weeks with Doctorow and see what his life is really like.

In Pirate Cinema, the technology and the morals take place front and center, as they do in most Doctorow novels. This is about intellectual property rights, their effect on creativity, and the rights of corporations versus people. In his earlier books, Cory's prose sometimes read like an academic paper when he's talking about the serious stuff. This is still here, but I think he's done a better job of blending it in, and the fact is that I really don't mind the lectures: they're fun and educational, even for someone relatively conversant in the space.

I don't want to give too much away, but I laughed out loud and had to immediately text a few friends when I get to the scene on panhandling A/B testing. If you know what A/B testing is, I promise this scene will crack you up.

In short, if you liked Little Brother, Makers, or For the Win, you'll love Pirate Cinema too. If you haven't tried any of Doctorow's fiction, I highly recommend it. He writes about important issues in a fun and entertaining way. You can read for the fun or the lessons or both.

(Note to parents: my kids are still in their single-digit ages, but when they hit their teens I hope to feed them a steady diet of Doctorow novels, including Pirate Cinema. The language, street living, and drugs might be slightly edgy, but the lessons about corporate interests and activism are right on.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not the finest of Doctorow's works Feb. 12 2013
By Umberto Nicoletti - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought PC after reading Big Brother from the same author. While with BB I was hooked from the beginning until the end PC fails to engage the reader and it all has a sense of deja-vu. If you have not yet read BB (read it!) your feeling might be different.

If on a narrative-level the book somehow fails to deliver a great reding experience on the other hand if you, like me, are sensitive to the issues of copyright and IP you will resonate to the protagonists' adventures.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Starts well, but disappoints July 30 2013
By Australian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This started as a very entertaining book, well-written for (I assume) the young adult market. The theme was very clearly about copyright issues on the Internet. Very interesting and topical. And made some excellent points in a compelling way. I liked the politicisation of the lead character and the range of issues and struggles he had to manage. Also the discussions about art, and what creativity is.
However, around (just over?) half way through, the book became a repetitive one-sided treatise against internet copyright restriction, and every single character seems to give exactly the same speech over and over again. Not subtle; not nuanced; not in any way enlightening - let alone entertaining. Tediously boring, in fact. Which is such a pity, because the first half of the book is particularly enjoyable.
It's very rare indeed for me to abandon a book before its end, not matter how bad it is. But this one has indeed been exceptional.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Pirate Cinema" Jan. 30 2013
By Alex C. Telander - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
After the success of Little Brother and For the Win, bestselling author Cory Doctorow returns with another young adult novel about an oppressed youth who is looking to change the world for the better in an uncertain near future. This time Doctorow jumps across the pond to Britain, where he spends a good portion of his time, and writes about the subject of internet piracy.

In a near future, Trent McCauley is a smart sixteen year-old who does his school work but spends most of his time downloading videos of a fictitious celebrity and creating vids about him using clips from all the movies the person has been in, telling a specific story, usually played to music. He has a lot of fun doing it and there's definitely an artwork and talent to it. Then the internet is cut off in the household under the recent law for internet piracy, and the family is now severed from the internet at home for a whole year; which is really important. Trent's sister needs it to do all her school work, she simply won't pass her classes without it; his mother needs it to get support for her medical condition; and his father needs it because he's unemployed, and needs to claim his unemployment checks, as well as look for jobs. It puts the family in a dire situation, with Trent feeling really guilty about the whole thing.

So he does what any teenager would logically do: he runs away from home. He arrives in London with high hopes of living on the street, which are soon dashed when his belongings are stolen and he finds himself hungry and terribly alone, and wondering if he's made a terrible mistake. But he soon makes some new friends who show him the ropes and how to get by pretty easily in London, eventually leading them to squat in an abandoned pub, where they get the power back on, the internet going, and life begins to go pretty well.

Their goal is to have lots of movie viewing parties via a secret internet website that gets people together, to support the vid-making industry and create awareness about what they're doing and why it isn't wrong and shouldn't be illegal. They're also looking to fight back against the passing of a recent law in Parliament that is now imprisoning teenagers and children for internet piracy. Their numbers begin to grow, and gain support; the question is how they are going to make this change happen, without coming off as a radical group of homeless people.

Pirate Cinema feels a lot like the British version of Little Brother, as Doctorow has done his work with how the government works and how the internet is used and perceived in Britain. He even goes so far as to use a British vernacular, with plenty of slang thrown in. The weakness of the book is in the conflicts and issues the main character has to deal with. Trent definitely gets himself into some direct situations and problems, but they're never really that hard or tough, and he always gets out of it real easy. It still makes for an enjoyable story that is lacking in potential dramatic tension. Readers -- especially teens -- will nevertheless enjoy the book for what it's trying to do.

Originally written on December 5, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

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