Overclocked (2007)

Overclocked is a collection that achieves something rare. While completely steeped into old SF, mining the nostalgia and concepts of classics, it also successful at placing itself at the cutting edge of SF. These are new riffs on old themes, like the mix of the post-apocalyptic with the myth that the internet would survive a nuclear war.

The picture of spam endlessly replicating after most humans have died is both funny as hell, as it is scary in some ways. And yet, like Postman by Brin, it’s a post-apocalyptic story that is about remaking civilization, about hope for a better future. It goes into the face of every survivalist fiction that revels at the end of the world, by making you believe that it won’t take thousands of years for humanity to come back.

One big theme, noticeable in I, Robot and more openly in Printcrime and After the Siege is about how we deal with copyright. But if we go even more meta, the whole book is a statement about that. Some of the stories in Overclocked couldn’t have been written if those who want to enforce an ever more restrictive copyright aren’t stopped.

Overclocked shows us what a rich field SF is by sharing and reusing the ideas of others, but going into a dialog with writers who are already dead, by building on those who came before us and by allowing those who will follow us do the same with our contributions. This collection shows us what sharing can give us, but also that it’s something we have to fight for (maybe not as hard as in After the Siege, hopefully this future can be avoided).

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