I didn’t make it to the NCTE Annual Convention for English teachers this year, but I see that Cory Doctorow is one of their speakers.

Doctorow is a science fiction novelist, blogger, and technology activist. He is co-editor of the popular site Boing Boing and a contributor to The Guardian, The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Wired.

He was formerly director of European affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group that works to keep cyberspace free and defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards, and treaties.

One of his novels that is popular with young adult readers is one you can download a free copy of  – Little Brother . It may surprise you that an author would give away his book, but Cory Doctorow explains:

These downloads are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license, which lets you share it, remix it, and share your remixes, provided that you do so on a noncommercial basis. Some people don’t understand why I do this — so check out this post if you want my topline explanation for why I do this crazy thing.

These official downloads come in several formats like plain text, HTML, a PDF version and ones for your eReader along with the ones fans have also made available.  Cory has also posted an explanation of all the legal stuff you can do with the book – and what the limits are too.

And, how’s this for radical, you can actually buy the book printed on real paper too. Despite all these giveaways, when the book was released it made the NY Times best-seller list.

And what is the book about?  Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is 17 and figures he knows how the system works and how to work the system. He understands our networked world and has no problem hacking into his high school’s weak surveillance systems.

Add to this setting the conflict of he and his friends getting caught up in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. They get picked up by the Department of Homeland Security, taken to a secret prison, interrogated and when they are released he finds his city has become a police state. What to do… take down the DHS himself.

It’s the kind of rebellion with a contemporary edge that kids should get into – maybe even adults. I could see pairing this with a reading of Orwell’s 1984.