Review: Pirate Cinema / Author: Cory Doctorow / Publisher: Titan Books / Release Date: Out Now
Some indeterminate time in the future and not so very far from here, MPs will be colluding with big players in the entertainment industry to bring us new laws that will arrest your kids for illegal downloading. Such is the future in Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema, a fictionalised version of the way he sees things going if the current state of affairs is taken to its logical conclusion.
The problem with this approach is that after 300 pages of characters soap-boxing at you, you might feel inclined to side with the authorities that want to jail them. It’s not helped by the fact that the central character (a teen called Trent who rebrands himself as Cecil B. DeVil, a name that is not cool despite what he may tell you) is really annoying and has some sort of martyr complex.
It also doesn’t feel like a realistic representation of how the world will turn out in the event of such laws, which is arguably a bigger problem. It seems like the answer to their problems is in fact ‘stop doing this thing which is illegal’ rather than ‘revolt’, and frankly the fact that the characters can no longer make remixes and fan videos doesn’t seem worth going to a great deal of trouble to redress.
And yet for all its faults, it’s evident that Doctorow knows how to write an engaging novel and we found ourselves turning the pages despite ourselves, eager to know what happened next. And we did indeed enjoy reading it, annoying characters and filibusters notwithstanding. But don’t take our word for it. Pirate Cinema is available to read for free on Doctorow’s website, evidence of the fact that if nothing else, he knows how to put his money where his mouth is.