The Lost Cause (Hardcover)

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The Lost Cause By Cory Doctorow Cover Image
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(Science fiction and fantasy)

Staff Reviews

Jim's November 2023 pick (1 of 3)

It’s thirty years in the future. Climate change is getting under control. That’s the good news. The President is an extremist, and MAGA diehards are ready to go to war. That’s the not-so-good news. This is the world that Brooks Palazzo lives in. It is one that I found scary as hell.

Doctorow has done something here that I wasn’t sure could be done well. He has taken ripped-from-the-headline topics and written about them in a way that is engaging and enlightening without being pedantic or overbearing. Brooks’s grandfather is a white supremacist with a lot of angry friends. Refugees migrate to his town, Burbank, looking for help while navigating the MAGAs, and the politicians are working to undo the climate control advances that have started to make a difference. That’s a lot to deal with, and Doctorow juggles all of these deftly. He calls this a book about hope, which, considering the elements that he is dealing with, he would have to be hopeful.

One point that Doctorow makes in the acknowledgments is that we are in an age where simply recycling plastic and paper is not enough; we all have to take more drastic action and get involved. In that way, The Lost Cause is a call to action. I just hope that the title is not also a prediction of our failure to heed the call.  Let’s hope not.                                                       

— From Jim


It’s thirty years from now. We’re making progress, mitigating climate change, slowly but surely. But what about all the angry old people who can’t let go?

For young Americans a generation from now, climate change isn't controversial. It's just an overwhelming fact of life. And so are the great efforts to contain and mitigate it. Entire cities are being moved inland from the rising seas. Vast clean-energy projects are springing up everywhere. Disaster relief, the mitigation of floods and superstorms, has become a skill for which tens of millions of people are trained every year. The effort is global. It employs everyone who wants to work. Even when national politics oscillates back to right-wing leaders, the momentum is too great; these vast programs cannot be stopped in their tracks.

But there are still those Americans, mostly elderly, who cling to their red baseball caps, their grievances, their huge vehicles, their anger. To their "alternative" news sources that reassure them that their resentment is right and pure and that "climate change" is just a giant scam.

And they're your grandfather, your uncle, your great-aunt. And they're not going anywhere. And they’re armed to the teeth.

The Lost Cause asks: What do we do about people who cling to the belief that their own children are the enemy? When, in fact, they're often the elders that we love?

About the Author

Cory Doctorow ( is a science fiction author, activist, and journalist. His latest book is THE LOST CAUSE, a solarpunk science fiction novel of hope amidst the climate emergency. His most recent nonfiction book is THE INTERNET CON: HOW TO SEIZE THE MEANS OF COMPUTATION, a Big Tech disassembly manual. Last April, he published RED TEAM BLUES, a technothriller about finance crime. He is the author of the international young adult LITTLE BROTHER series. He is also the author of CHOKEPOINT CAPITALISM (with Rebecca Giblin), about creative labor markets and monopoly; HOW TO DESTROY SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM, nonfiction about conspiracies and monopolies; and of RADICALIZED and WALKAWAY, science fiction for adults, a YA graphic novel called IN REAL LIFE; and other young adult novels like PIRATE CINEMA. His first picture book was POESY THE MONSTER SLAYER (Aug 2020). His next novel is THE BEZZLE (February 2024). He maintains a daily blog at He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate, is a Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Open University, a Visiting Professor of Practice at the University of North Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in Los Angeles. In 2020, he was inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. In 2022, he earned the Sir Arthur Clarke Imagination in Service to Society Awardee for lifetime achievement. York University (Canada) made him an Honourary Doctor of Laws; and the Open University (UK) made him an Honourary Doctor of Computer Science.

Praise For…

"Completely delightful...Neither utopian nor dystopian, it portrays life in SoCal in a future woven from our successes (Green New Deal!), failures (climate chaos anyway), and unresolved conflicts (old MAGA dudes). I loved it."
-- Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things To Me and A Paradise Built In Hell

“This book looks like our future and feels like our present—it’s an unforgettable vision of what could be.”—Kim Stanley Robinson

"[The Lost Cause] tells a thought-provoking story, with a message of hope in a near-future that looks increasingly bleak."--Library Journal, starred review

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250865939
ISBN-10: 125086593X
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: November 14th, 2023
Pages: 368
Language: English