Campbell Award—winner Doctorow lives up to the promise of his first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom , with this near-future, far-out blast against human duplicity and smothering bureaucracy. Even though it takes a while for the reader to grasp postcyberpunk Art Berry's dizzying leaps between his "now," a scathing urban nuthouse, and his "then," the slightly earlier events that got him incarcerated there, this short novel's occasionally bitter, sometimes hilarious and always whackily appealing protagonist consistently skewers those evils of modern culture he holds most pernicious.
A born-to-argue misfit like all kids who live online, Art has found peers in cyber space who share his unpopular views—specifically his preference for living on Eastern Standard Time no matter where he happens to live and work. In this unsettling world, e-mails filled with arcane in-jokes bind competitive "tribes" that choose to function in one arbitrary time or another.
Swinging from intense highs his innovative marketing scheme promises to impress his tribe and make him rich to maudlin lows isolation in a scarily credible loony bin , Art gradually learns that his girl, Linda, and his friend Fede are up to no good. In the first chapter, Doctorow's authorial voice calls this book a work of propaganda, a morality play about the fearful choice everybody makes sooner or later between smarts and happiness.
I did like how things turned out for the main character, although the resolution involved a somewhat-too-tidy chain of coincidences. At the beginning, he talks about killing the story in order to dissect it, and I guess that's what the 3rd person, past tense part represents. She had one redeeming, rather out of character, sequence in which she helped Art when his back went out; otherwise, she was an obnoxious, scheming caricature of a person. Oct 03, Rebecca rated it liked it Shelves: I'm giving this a 3 because I thought a lot of the world-building was interesting and I found the voice engrossing.
However, the book is deeply flawed in some irritating ways. The narrator is sarcastic and not particularly likeable, but he is interesting, I must grant. He's affiliated with a group based in the EST but finds himself in London undercover trying to sabotage other groups. There's a really interesting theory here about how the internet changes the way that people self-identify; howev I'm giving this a 3 because I thought a lot of the world-building was interesting and I found the voice engrossing.
There's a really interesting theory here about how the internet changes the way that people self-identify; however, the lengths the narrator will go to and the different lengths his coworker Fede is willing to go to don't actually make that much sense to me, despite the explanations.
He meets his Magic Pixie Dream Girl by running her over by accident. She offers to split the insurance payment if he'll play along; shockingly, she's batshit and disloyal. Shocked, I tell you. Still not sure why the narrator is. There's a lot of flashbacks and forwards, as the narrator begins on the roof of a mental hospital, trying to decide whether it's better to be smart or happy. He declares that this is the driving force of the story, and it's a very effective hook. Unfortunately, he forgets it halfway through and we're never quite sure why.
There's a conservation of characters that is clever and yet nowhere near as effective as it should be. There's some shenanigans involving copyright law that's also clever, but perhaps not as well explained as it might be. The characters are interesting , if dislikable. The plot is also quite interesting, if a bit underinflated. The worldbuilding is downright fascinating, but still a bit on the half-baked side. There's a lot of wit and clever asides, but it's not quite enough to bring this up to the level it aspires to be. There's so much potential here, but it never quite came through.
Sep 28, Ran rated it did not like it Shelves: When Art's business partner and love interest betray him and boost his intellectual property for their own gains, they trap him in a mental institution in Massachusetts. He is part of the Eastern Standard Tribe, a decentralized people who have a loyalty to GMT -5 and work in collaboration despite their different geographical locations. The two turncoats betray him on behalf of GMT -8 Los Angeles and try to make a quick buck off his idea for supporting super users of radio caches on car compute When Art's business partner and love interest betray him and boost his intellectual property for their own gains, they trap him in a mental institution in Massachusetts.
Eastern Standard Tribe
The two turncoats betray him on behalf of GMT -8 Los Angeles and try to make a quick buck off his idea for supporting super users of radio caches on car computers I'm not getting into that because it's dated itself. He's got to figure out how to get himself out of the situation he's in. I honestly think there was too many brushstrokes in this work - the narrative story did work itself out - but maybe there were just too many ideas stuffed into this work to flesh each out with equal attention. Also, I disliked everyone in the story. Oct 03, Lawrence Schoen rated it really liked it.
Doctorow's voice is so crisp, so clean, it leaps off the page and runs around the house like a puppy on amphetamines. The plot is straightforward, nothing subtle or complex about it. What's subtle is the ease with which Doctorow gets into your head with his ideas. In no time at all you find yourself nodding in agreement, as he explains how tribes work, how they've always worked, and how the global expansion and ease of communication continue to drive such sensibilities.
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I'm still not sure how mu Doctorow's voice is so crisp, so clean, it leaps off the page and runs around the house like a puppy on amphetamines. I'm still not sure how much is fiction, and how much is just a reflection of how brutally smart the man is. I quite liked the idea of the 'Tribes' as aren't some of us almost like that now?
The images of the near future and tech developments were brilliant and clearly imaginable most of them and this story did make me laugh at times. Apr 19, Jennifer rated it it was amazing. I used this quote in so many college essays: All the good stuff—everything that tickles you—comes out of some clique of hyperurban club-kids in South Philly.
These kids live online.
Online, you can be a peer. You can hop into these discussions, play the games, chord with one hand while chatting up some hottie a couple thousand miles away. Their late nights end at three AM. But those are their local times, not yours. You get up at four AM so you can chat with your friends. The geniuses and lunatics to whom the local doctrine tastes wrong.
They choose their peers based on similarity, not geography, and they keep themselves awake at the same time as them.
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You end up hardly sleeping at all, you end up sneaking naps in the middle of the day, or after dinner, trying to reconcile biological imperatives with cultural ones. Needless to say, that alienates you even further from the folks at home, and drives you more and more into the arms of your online peers of choice. I enjoyed this, but mostly for the 'user experience' ideas that the main character had--the 21st century inventor. Some of them were brilliant. I didn't find the idea of the tribes convincing at all, but the rest of the story was fine.
May 22, Adam rated it liked it. As I've said before, and will surely say again, I think Cory Doctorow is an amazing human being and I am glad he has sufficient influence to force his vision of the future onto reality, at least a little bit. And for a few dozen pages each, Cory Doctorow's books really sing. I mean, really, who As I've said before, and will surely say again, I think Cory Doctorow is an amazing human being and I am glad he has sufficient influence to force his vision of the future onto reality, at least a little bit.
But actualy, the central plot kind of sucks. Nor is the main conceit ever really explained. Art is a brilliant usability engineer. Why on earth would he be more useful as a saboteur I mean there is no motivation even for the antogonism between tribes, really. And while we're on the subject, the tribes themselves don't even make sense. Yes, I get it, you start being friends with people in a particular geographic area and you want to chat with them online, this neccessitates a bit of sleep deprivation.
But I don't buy for a second, that the only people you're going to want to hang out with live in one time zone, even if you allow for a very generous amount of homophily based movement. And better still, they're free. One part of the book that I really enjoyed was Art's early foray onto the Eastern Standard Tribe chatrooms. It's too bad social networking has all but killed off IRC at least in my tribes, that is Sep 13, Michael Battaglia rated it it was amazing.
As someone who suffered intermittent jet lag for about three weeks following a vacation involving a six hour time difference, the aspect of the novel that should have resonated with me the most was the idea of trying to live in one part of the world while maintaining an internal clock for somewhere else.
Alas, that's the part that Doctorow seems to pay the least attention to, despite it being sort of central to his whole premise. This is the first novel I've read from Doctorow, who I don't know m As someone who suffered intermittent jet lag for about three weeks following a vacation involving a six hour time difference, the aspect of the novel that should have resonated with me the most was the idea of trying to live in one part of the world while maintaining an internal clock for somewhere else.
This is the first novel I've read from Doctorow, who I don't know much about except that he writes satirical SF novels, has certain opinions about copyright laws and digital sharing and appears occasionally in that online comic that's all stick figures. He strikes me as one of those writers that is pretty good at writing essays outlining his ideas and thus should be very careful to avoid having his novels turn into essays with plots. He seems aware of that pitfall here and does his best to straddle a sort of middle ground but unfortunately it doesn't do the plot or the essay any favors at times.
He sets the novel in a near future world where the Internet has allowed people from different parts of the world to bond together via similar ideas and mentalities. As those mentalities an extension of subcultures often seem centered around certain geographical areas, those "tribes" pledge allegiance to different timezones. Each tribe has agents living in different parts of the world furthering the tribe's agenda while pretending to be a native of that time zone, meaning that a lot of coffee and melatonin gets consumed as they are perpetually never in sync with anyone else around them nobody seems to think of the obvious excuse to avoid suspicion, which is just claiming you have narcolepsy or you're an online gamer.
Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow
I don't think he even addresses what happens during Daylight Savings Time, although maybe its been discarded in his future but I don't think he's proposing it seriously, more as a jumping off point for other ideas. The hero of our novel is Art Berry, who we're told in the beginning is super smart and good at seeing the world in ways that the average person isn't capable of because they're lulled into passivity. Unfortunately Doctorow demonstrates this through one of the more cliched ways of showing how a character is good at penetrating the BS of the world, namely lecturing everyone in church about their own religion better than they can despite not being a believer to the delight of the open minded pastor , something that always comes across to me as slightly condescending and smug.
But it establishes his "he's a loner, baby, an intellectual rebel" credentials fairly early on, which is good because the book is pretty short. From there we eventually shift into two parallel narratives, Art telling us about his stay in an asylum after he's involuntarily committed and what happened to get him stuck there. Prior to be thrown in the padded wall slammer he's doing okay for himself, working in London secretly undermining the Greenwich Mean Tribe with a friend and fellow conspirator, while starting to date a woman he was involved with in an accident.
Its only when he comes up with a neat idea for music file sharing in traffic that things start to go haywire for him. Oddly enough, for a novel centered around the future, the nature of copyright and the associations we make with people who don't live near us, the most entertaining parts of the novel are where poor Art has to try and prove himself sane to people that are convinced that you're insane until proven otherwise and all your attempts to prove your sanity only mark you as insane.
Its not the most savage treatment of how we deal with people with mental health problems you'll see but there's a nice "Catch" vibe as Art's struggles to prove he's not cuckoo for cocoa puffs are only met with condescending pats on the hand and "of course you're not crazy, love" reactions.
Doctorow of course can't help himself at some points and has to have Art spew out genius ideas that like-minded open-minded people such as himself immediately recognize as genius and do their best to help him accomplish you may not agree with how brilliant they are but they're at least worth thinking about and if I hinted that his ultimate triumph has something to do with getting like-minded folks to help him fight the close-minded establishment I don't think I'd be spoiling that much for you.
The sections not in the asylum are a bit more problematic, as we see Art and his friend Fede do their best to be saboteurs without being found out while trying to strike a deal for Art's idea with the Eastern Standard Tribe. Along the way Art attempts to date Linda, which has its own share of verbal landmines. Art's relationship with Linda walks the line between "grating" and "tedious", with Linda jumping down his throat every time he places a word wrong before shifting back into being, if not loving, at least affectionate.
It happens often enough that you start to wonder if Linda is slightly bipolar or Doctorow is making some satirical point about dating that doesn't quite come across in the novel. All it made me wonder is why he doesn't ditch her after the first "moderate your tone" lecture. Is he that desperate for a date or that starved for attention from ladies? You do start to feel sorry for him after a while because he seems nice, if hapless, but its hard to see why he keeps subjecting himself to that level of abuse.
Its possible to argue that Linda's actions later perhaps explain her methods but I saw it as just an extension of her personality, for better or for worse. So that leaves you with Art's file sharing concepts, which probably seemed brilliant in but now in the days of streaming seem a bit dated though as a guy with a house full of CDs I perhaps shouldn't be a judge of what's cutting edge and the whole idea of the tribes, which unfortunately doesn't get a lot of pages devoted to the ins and outs of how exactly it works.
While scene after scene of a dude taking No-Doz perhaps would belabor the point, the idea of people living secretly on a different time zone than everyone around them comes across more in idea than execution.
Unfortunately because of its length and inability to decide what it wants to focus on, it leaves the book as neither fish nor fowl, not dramatic enough to really engage you in the story but too focused on constructing straw-men for our protagonist to wow to really delve deep into the nuts and bolts of where Doctorow saw society going and explore how we might live in it.
Due to its length he wraps it up fairly neatly and pat a little too pat, with a last minute coincidence that felt too "only in fiction" before it goes too far but what you're left with is the sense that you read a missed opportunity for something a little more biting, a little more provocative. As an example that Doctorow is clever it works just fine, but as a means to make us look at the world differently after the book is finished I'm not sure if it succeeds and since it seems most of the drive of the book is devoted to that it ultimately may not be as successful as it thinks it is.
Jan 12, Lis Carey rated it it was ok Shelves: 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 Art Berry lives in a world just slightly askew from the rest of us. Art himself is currently working in London, engaged in industrial sabotage against the Greenwich Mean Tribe. 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.
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. Aug 17, Paul rated it really liked it. Here is a near-future novel about an industrial saboteur who finds himself on the roof of an insane asylum near Boston. The world is splintering into tribes based on time zones; those in other time zones will be at lunch or sleeping when you need them. Only those in your own time zone can be depended upon.
Art lives in London, and he works for a European telecommunications mega-corporation. His "rea Here is a near-future novel about an industrial saboteur who finds himself on the roof of an insane asylum near Boston. His "real job" is to make life as difficult as possible for those in the Greenwich Mean Tribe by inserting user-hostile software wherever he can. Art is also working on managing data flow along the Massachusetts Turnpike.
Most cars have some sort of onboard computer on which songs are stored, sometimes tens of thousands of songs. Art comes up with a system for wireless transfer of songs between cars, while they are driving on the Mass Pike.
Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow
The two met when Art hit her with his car in London. That is how Art finds himself on the roof of a forty-floor insane asylum near Boston; Fede and Linda had him committed there. As with any Doctorow novel, this book is full of interesting ideas. Ever like a person but drift off when they start discussing their pet obsession? Like a guy who is pretty well-rounded otherwise, but if you get him started on Warhammer 40K or Quantam Physics or his opposition to DRM, he sort of disconnects from you? That's Cory Doctorow about a times over. The man appears to be made of pet obsessions. His books are littered with little rants and bits where you see the author poking through the narrative.
And it's a shame, because Eastern Standard Tribe has Ever like a person but drift off when they start discussing their pet obsession? And it's a shame, because Eastern Standard Tribe has a really interesting protagonist, a man with vast powers of rhetoric and logic who finds himself trapped in a mental institution in a near-future where people join tribes based on time zones.
When it focuses on the characters and shows us how good he is at his job, the book soars. But everytime I start really connecting with his characters, they pull away, the book traipsing off into some nerdy rant or tangential discussion. He could have overcome it with time, but the book stops about at the point when I was really growing to like his strange little world.
This happens with almost every book of his I read. It's like he has commitment issues with his narrative. What's really grand about it though is that you can find out for yourself. Every single one of his books is available for free, and it's available in damn near any platform you can think of. I read my copy on the Stanza application on my iPhone. His books all have a warm, accessible prose style, so there's really no reason not to give them a read.
But if you're like me, he may start to feel like a tease. Mar 14, Mikael rated it it was amazing. Cory Doctorow's amazingly written Eastern Standard Tribe starts out with an amazingly epic first chapter, sebsequently following two stories that follow each other, the beginning of the first connecting with the end of the last just before the book ends.
This leads to a very strange style of reading, where you know a little more of what happens in the early plot every time you visit the later, but never enough to make either boring.
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