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Eastern Standard Tribe

by Cory Doctorow

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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

From Publishers Weekly
John W. Campbell Award-winner Doctorow lives up to the promise of his first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003), with this near-future, far-out blast against human duplicity and smothering bureaucracy. Even though it takes a while for the reader to grasp post-cyberpunk Art Berry's dizzying leaps between his "now," a scathing 2012 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. He may be more right than we'd like to think.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
Art belongs to the Eastern Standard Tribe, which is linked by its members' circadian rhythms to a time zone in a world in which human loyalties are no longer contingent to physical proximity. Art and his friend Fede are EST agents in Greenwich Mean Time, working for Virgin/Deutsche Telecom and thinking up ways to mire Europe in ridiculous bureaucratic tangles. Art also has something clever to sell to New Jersey: a way to siphon profits from music pirates on the toll roads. Fede, and Art's lover, Pacific time-zone transplant Linda, double-cross him, though, upsetting everything he thought he knew about tribal loyalty. Declared insane and locked safely away from Fede and Linda's machinations in an asylum on Route 128 in Massachusetts, Art tells us his story. Doctorow's fast, bizarre follow-up to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom [BKL Ja 1 & 15 03] is a reaction to the impact of instant global communication in which it is hard to tell whether the phenomena being reacted to have actually been observed or are the consequences of his imagination. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"Artful and confident...Like William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, Doctorow has discovered that the present world is science fiction, if you look at it from the right angle."
--Vancouver Sun on Eastern Standard Tribe

"Doctorow lives up to the promise of his first novel...This short novel's occasionally bitter, sometimes hilarious and always wackily appealing protagonist consistently skewers those evils of modern culture he holds most pernicious."
--Publishers Weekly on Eastern Standard Tribe

"Bravura...Cory Doctorow writes fast and furiously, the words gushing out of him in a stream of metaphor and imagery that keeps you glued to his futurist tales. You're going to hear a lot more from this guy."
--Toronto Now on Eastern Standard Tribe

"Immediately accessible...Doctorow maintains an unrelenting pace; many readers will find themselves finishing the novel, as I did, in a single sitting."
--Toronto Star on Eastern Standard Tribe

"As in Down and Out, Doctorow shows here that he's got the modern world, in all its Googled, Friendstered and PDA-d glory, completely sussed."
--Kirkus Reviews on Eastern Standard Tribe

"At its heart, Tribe is a witty, sometimes acerbic poke in the eye at modern culture. Everything comes under Doctorow's microscope, and he manages to be both up to date and off the cuff in the best possible way."
--Locus on Eastern Standard Tribe

"Doctorow peppers his novel with technology so palpable you want to order it up on the web. You'll probably get the chance. But technology is not the point here. What is unexpected, shocking even, is how smart Doctorow is when it comes to the human heart, and how well he's able to articulate it...
af0 .He seems smart because he makes the reader feel smart. When Doctorow talks, when Art argues, we just get it. There's nothing between the language and the meaning. The prose is funny, simple and straightforward. This is a no-BS book."
--NPR on Eastern Standard Tribe

"Utterly contemporary and deeply peculiar--a hard combination to beat (or, these days, to find)."
--William Gibson, author of Neuromancer

"I know many science fiction writers engaged in the cyber-world, but Cory Doctorow is a native...We should all hope and trust that our culture has the guts and moxie to follow this guy. He's got a lot to tell us."
--Bruce Sterling

"Cory Doctorow is just far enough ahead of the game to give you the authentic chill of the future...Funny as hell and sharp as steel."
--Warren Ellis, author of Transmetropolitan

"Cory Doctorow knocks me out. In a good way."
--Pat Cadigan, author of Synners

"Cory Doctorow is the most interesting new SF writer I've come across in years. He starts out at the point where older SF writers' speculations end."
--Rudy Rucker, author of Spaceland

"Cory Doctorow doesn't just write about the future--I think he lives there"
--Kelly Link

"Bravura...Cory Doctorow writes fast and furiously, the words gushing out of him in a stream of metaphor and imagery that keeps you glued to his futurist tales."
-Toronto Now on Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom



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