“The Things that Make Me Weak and Strange Get Engineered Away” — Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow is the author of the novels Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Eastern  Standard Tribe, Someone Comes to Town Someone Leaves Town, Makers, For the Win, and the dystopian young adult novel Little Brother. His short fiction, which has appeared in a variety of magazines—from Asimov’s Science Fiction to Salon.com—has been collected in A Place So Foreign and Eight More and in Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present. He is a four-time winner of the Locus Award, a winner of the Canadian Starburst Award, has been nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and in 2000, he won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Doctorow is also the co-editor of Boing Boing, the online “directory of wonderful things.”

Big Brother is watching you.

When George Orwell wrote those words in 1949, the notion of a surveillance state was the stuff of absolute science fiction.  Today, in an era of security cameras, wire taps and radio-frequency ID tags, surveillance is constant, and privacy a privilege.  If no one is watching you, it’s not because they can’t—it’s simply because so far, no one has decided it’s worthwhile.

But in the future Cory Doctorow describes in our next story, someone has decided to watch everyone, all the time, every day.  Just think a moment about what your daily life is like.  Have you ever run a red light?  Have you stayed parked longer than the meter would allow?  Have you ever rounded down on your taxes?

Here is a world where the minor infractions get noticed.  Here is a world where everyone is going to get caught sometime and everyone is some kind of criminal.  Forget Big Brother.  In this dystopian surveillance state, the watchers are more like the Godfather and his dons.