Reading is supposed to expand one's horizons. It's supposed to enable people to experience lives and cultures and people they would otherwise never get to -- and maybe even discover that the people who live those lives aren't so very different.
As it turns out, science fiction is a great educational tool for getting people to think seriously about the future. Imagining a world with actual people in it forces you to create not just the technologies of the future but societies with blind spots and ethical challenges.
Robinson's story is gripping, funny, and rich with vivid characters. It describes a possible future in such vivid and exciting ways you can't wait for it to arrive. But Robinson doesn't just spell out future possibilities; he inhabits them.
The important thing about Digital-Original goes beyond the fact that authors make more money off each sale than through traditional publishing. It's that we bypass a system of gatekeepers who have more than quality as criteria for what they choose.
Science fiction allows a writer to selectively question assumptions about the world, about ourselves, to fiddle with this dial, tweak this parameter or that one, then run the simulation, boot up a cosmos and see what happens.