Author and Boing Boinger Cory Doctorow just released a new novel, The Rapture of the Nerds, co-written with Charles Stross. With Doctorow being a kung fu master of the Internet, he’ll be harnessing its eldritch powers next week and setting up a new website where people can acquire free, creative commons-licensed ebook copies of Rapture. If you’d like to pay for your free ebook with some good karma, Doctorow is asking people who download the book to show their appreciation by buying some copies of the hardcover edition for the librarians and teachers of the world.
The download site won’t go up until next week, but if you are a teacher or librarian who would like to get some snazzy hardback copies of The Rapture of the Nerds for your classroom/library/what-have you, you can send the your name, as well as the name and address of your institution, to [email protected]. The Doctorow will eventually match the institutions with the donations from ebook downloaders and send forth a veritable horde of literature. Or just a couple of books, depending on how generous people are.
Plenty of authors these days are releasing free digital copies of their books as a promotional technique, working on the principle that people who really like it will buy the writer’s other books. This is a cool little spin on that, and I have to admire Doctorow for asking that happy readers help send books to the underfunded teachers and librarians out there.
Here’s the official synopsis of The Rapture of the Nerds:
Welcome to the fractured future, at the dusk of the twenty-first century.
Earth has a population of roughly a billion hominids. For the most part, they are happy with their lot, living in a preserve at the bottom of a gravity well. Those who are unhappy have emigrated, joining one or another of the swarming densethinker clades that fog the inner solar system with a dust of molecular machinery so thick that it obscures the sun.
The splintery metaconsciousness of the solar-system has largely sworn off its pre-post-human cousins dirtside, but its minds sometimes wander…and when that happens, it casually spams Earth’s networks with plans for cataclysmically disruptive technologies that emulsify whole industries, cultures, and spiritual systems. A sane species would ignore these get-evolved-quick schemes, but there’s always someone who’ll take a bite from the forbidden apple.
So until the overminds bore of stirring Earth’s anthill, there’s Tech Jury Service: random humans, selected arbitrarily, charged with assessing dozens of new inventions and ruling on whether to let them loose. Young Huw, a technophobic, misanthropic Welshman, has been selected for the latest jury, a task he does his best to perform despite an itchy technovirus, the apathy of the proletariat, and a couple of truly awful moments on bathroom floors.