I’d heard of Cory Doctorow because his name is bandied around in technology circles and, being a co-editor at Boing Boing, his credentials in the blogosphere are well established. I was following a link over to his site and having a look around when I saw that Cory offers his older books for download, completely free. For whatever reason, I grabbed a copy of Eastern Standard Tribe.
Set in a future where people in different time zones group together to defend their interests and their way of life, Art Berry is an agent provocateur – a worker who goes to other time zones and works for competitors of the companies in his own, purely to do a bad job and channel them into making bad decisions. Corporate sabotage on a global scale. Art is a user experience expert, a man who makes technical gadgets into useful things for real people, he’s an ideas man. When he comes up with a new way to licence music sharing on toll roads that could make him and his partner a fortune, Art’s life is torn apart by the greed of others and he finds himself imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital.
I like technology, and this book has it in spades, but with a realistic eye on the future and a thought for how people might actually use it. Add to that what is, essentially, a fairly simple plot and you’ve got an enjoyable book. The book is enough to grab your attention and keep you interested, but it wasn’t revolutionary and it didn’t really get under my skin. Linda’s character, I felt, was too antagonistic, but that may say more about me than the writing. I also felt that the end came too easily and that Art’s revenge on his previous partners would have made it far more interesting.
All in all, a good read, and it made me want to take a look at the authors other books, which is a good sign, but not something to blow your socks off.
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Reviewed: 17th June 2005