Aimlessly Going Forward

blog by Tomas Sedovic

The Bezzle by Cory Doctorow

book, review

5/5 stars

This is the second in the Martin Hench trilogy, set roughly 20 years before the first book.

Just like the first one, The Bezzle follows (several) financial crimes that Martin witnesses and/or investigates. But the main focus here is on the american prison situation and the enshittification that the tech used within goes through.

And how that affects people on the inside and outside.

Having had three people close to me in prison (each one for multiple years) I was nervous about The Bezzle. I cannot imagine what it is like behind the bars, but trying to maintain contact and make sure they know there are people caring about them — that they have people to come back to and that it’s not all helpless — Cory fucking nailed that part perfectly.

Not just that, but also the helplessness. What to talk about, what to avoid. What to do when the person stops responding and all the thoughts running through your head ("surely they have all the time to write — why haven’t they done so?", "has something terrible happened?", "have I said something insulting?", "are my letters too egocentric/boring/inquisitive?").

Prisons are terrible and The Bezzle captures that terribleness really well.

But this is a Cory Doctorow feature so you have the shitty tech, DRM, the privatisation of prison administrations to squeeze every bit of money from some of the most vulnerable people (the prisoners' families). It is frustrating and infuriating and makes you want to scream.

But the entire novel is a romp that really resists being put down. It is fun to read and funny in addition to being so rage inducing.

Oh, and the audiobook is once again narrated by Wil Wheaton who is perfect for the role.

This review was originally posted at Goodreads.

Screenshot and link to the website for the Dose Response game

Hi! I wrote a game! It's an open-world roguelike where you play an addict called Dose Response. You can get it on the game's website (pay what you want!), it's cross-platform, works in the browser and it's open source! If you give it a go, let me know how you liked it, please!