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Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow
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Eastern Standard Tribe

by Cory Doctorow

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Art Berry lives in a world just slightly askew from the rest of us. In our increasingly wireless world of instant and constant communication, he gives his loyalty not to a state or a company or family and friends he sees regularly, but to the Eastern Standard Tribe—a largely faceless collection of people whose home time zone is the Eastern Standard Zone, who are locked in cutthroat competition with other tribes aligned with other time zones. Art himself is currently working in London, engaged in industrial sabotage against the Greenwich Mean Tribe. Virgn/Deutsche Telekom thinks he's working for them, improving their user interface; in fact he's trying to make it almost unusable. He's got a partner and supervisor from the Tribe, Federico, and a new girlfriend, Linda, whom he met when she staged an accident with him as the fall guy so that she could claim the insurance.

For some reason, that doesn't suggest to Art that perhaps Linda is fundamentally untrustworthy and not looking out for his best interests.

Art's having fun, screwing with V/DT's user interface, dreaming up a really good, fun, and profitable idea for EST to sell to MassPike, involving rights management for downloaded music. There are frustrations, too, of course, as he begins to dimly realize that Fede might be double-crossing him, trying to steal his idea and cut him out of the deal. There are more frustrations as Linda and Fede make increasingly contradictory and irreconcilable demands on him. Eventually, on a trip which he thinks is to pitch the idea, and a side trip home to Toronto to introduce Linda to his Gran, Art finally figures out that Linda is not his friend, either. He reacts very badly, and winds up on the roof of a mental institution in Massachusetts, trying to decide whether to stick a pencil into his brain.

There are some neat ideas here, and the story moves along briskly, alternating between the main story and Art on top of the asylum, trying to figure out what he does next, with quite adequate amounts of suspense. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite satisfy. Except for Art, neither the characters nor the book's main conceit, the Tribes, feel fully developed. I was left feeling that this will probably be a fun book to read when Doctorow finishes writing it.
( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
Cory Doctorow always seems to think outside the box, and even though this one didn't blow me away it definitely had it's bouts of brilliance and originality. The one thing I couldn't get around though was the "girlfriend", she was written as such a complete psycho, selfish, bitch that I didn't find it believable that he stayed with her or if he was the kind of person who would stay with her then I wanted him to fail.

This started off really "meta", but eventually strayed away from that. I thought that in the end it should have come back to that, a kind of "wrap up" referencing the beginning, but it never did and so it kind of made that beginning section feel irrelevant. ( )
  ragwaine | Jan 17, 2018 |
short, cute, but abruptly ended. ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |
I got hooked on Cory Doctorow's books with Down and out in the Magic Kingdom. All of his books are slightly weird, and this one doesn't disappoint. Not my favorite, but I still enjoyed reading it. ( )
  oswallt | Nov 25, 2016 |
Good if a little short. ( )
  Superenigmatix | Jan 16, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cory Doctorowprimary authorall editionscalculated
Eshkar, ShelleyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For everyone who helped me up and for everyone I let down. You know who you are. Sincerest thanks and most heartfelt apologies.
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I once had a Tai Chin instructor who explained the difference between Chinese and Western medicine thus: "Western medicine is based on corpses, things that you discover by cutting up dead bodies and pulling them apart. Chinese medicine is based on living flesh, things observed from vital, moving humans."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0765310457, Paperback)

Cory Doctorow’s Eastern Standard Tribe is a soothsaying jaunt into the not-so-distant future, where 24/7 communication and chatroom alliances have evolved into tribal networks that secretly work against each other in shadowy online realms. The novel opens with its protagonist, the peevish Art Berry, on the roof of an asylum. He wonders if it's better to be smart or happy. His crucible is a pencil up the nose for a possible "homebrew lobotomy." To explain Art's predicament, Doctorow flashes backward and slowly fills in the blanks. As a member of the Eastern Standard Tribe, Art is one of many in the now truly global village who have banded together out of like-minded affinity for a particular time zone and its circadian cycles. Art may have grown up in Toronto but his real homeland is an online grouping that prefers bagels and hot dogs to the fish and chips of their rivals who live on Greenwich Mean Time. As he rises through the ranks of the tribe, he is sent abroad to sabotage the traffic patterns and communication networks in the GMT tribe. Along the way, he comes across a humdinger of an idea that will solve a music piracy problem on the highways of his own beloved timezone, raise his status in the tribe and make him rich. If only he could have trusted his tightly wound girlfriend and fellow tribal saboteur, he probably wouldn't be on the booby hatch roof with that pencil up his nose.

As a musing on the future, Doctorow's extrapolation seems entirely plausible. And, not only is EST a fascinating mental leap it's a witty and savvy tale that will appeal to anyone who's lived another life, however briefly, online. --Jeremy Pugh

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:02 -0400)

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"Art is an up-and-coming interface designer, working on the management of data flow along the Massachusetts Turnpike. He's doing the best work of his career and can guarantee that the system will be, without question, the most counterintuitive, user-hostile piece of software ever pushed forth into the world." "Why? Because Art is an industrial saboteur. He may live in London and work for an EU telecommunications megacorp, but Art's real home is the Eastern Standard Tribe." "The comm-instant wireless communication - puts everyone in touch with everyone else, twenty-four hours a day. But one thing hasn't changed: the need for sleep. The world is slowly splintering into Tribes held together by common time zones, less than families and more than nations. And Art is working to humiliate the Greenwich Mean Tribe to the benefit of his own people." "The world of next week is overflowing with ubiquitous computing, where an idea scribbled onto one's comm can revolutionize an industry. But in a world without boundaries, nothing can be taken for granted - not happiness, not money, and, most certainly, not love." "Which might explain why Art finds himself stranded on the roof of an insane asylum outside Boston, debating whether to push a pencil into his brain. Happiness or smarts? What's it going to be, Art?"--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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