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Eastern Standard Tribe

by Cory Doctorow

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,1453212,980 (3.45)36
Now published for the first time in the UK, the second visionary novel from the acclaimed author of LITTLE BROTHER. 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 mega-corp, but Art's real home is the Eastern Standard Tribe. 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 a common time zone, less than family and more than nations. Art is working to humiliate the Greenwich Mean Tribe to the benefit of his own people. But in a world without boundaries, nothing can be taken for granted - not happiness, not money, 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...… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Short and witty. Without the tiresome moralising that the author now practices. ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 23, 2020 |
I gulped Eastern Standard Tribe down almost in one sitting, on a day I was tired from uploading family photos to the internet.

Art Berry is a user experience consultant, working for a firm in London. Actually, he's an agent for the Eastern Standard Tribe, a social network of east-coast net-connected folk who find each other work, help each other out, and they sabotage companies so to make way for their own concepts in the market. Almost forgot... they all keep a sleep schedule that lets them stay in touch in real time with tribe ground zero. Got that? Sleep-deprived idea-folk who are disguised as businessmen. Sorta.

I enjoyed Cory Doctorow's second novel very much; I read it in a few hours, mostly on a train. It doesn't hold together nearly as much as his first book, though. Art bears more than a passing resemblance to Manfred Macx, main honcho of Charles Stross's Accelerando, Doctorow's sometimes collaborator.

But. The concept of people depriving themselves of sleep to keep up with the j0nz3s has been going on for years; when's the lat time you walked into work yawning because you'd stayed online until 1am? (Or is it just me that does that?) Of course, we used to stay up late to watch late night TV, and some of us even stay up late reading.

Tribe is very perceptive, easily read, and very thoughtful. ( )
  neilneil | Dec 7, 2020 |
I didn't like this one as much as Makers, the only other Doctorow I've read. I didn't find the plot terribly compelling, I didn't buy the central conceit of time zone "tribes." It's zippily written, and certainly clever, so it wasn't a bad read, just not a great one. ( )
  elenaj | Jul 31, 2020 |
This was another read on the T on my Palm. I never really did figure out what the tribe was about and somewhere in the middle I started thinking that I didn't like the story that much - too much crazy conniving girlfriend shtick and depressing trapped in a mental institution scenes, but then it all worked out for the best. The riffs on designing better systems were the most fun. (September 25, 2004) ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
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 Tribeā€”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 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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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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Now published for the first time in the UK, the second visionary novel from the acclaimed author of LITTLE BROTHER. 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 mega-corp, but Art's real home is the Eastern Standard Tribe. 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 a common time zone, less than family and more than nations. Art is working to humiliate the Greenwich Mean Tribe to the benefit of his own people. But in a world without boundaries, nothing can be taken for granted - not happiness, not money, 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...

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