From Cory Doctorow, a powerful and funny novel about time, tribalism, and a young man's dismaying discoveries about his own life
Scathing, bitter and funny, Eastern Standard Tribe examines the immutable truths of time, and of societies rebuilt in the storm of instant, ubiquitous communication.
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 a question, the most counterintuitive, user-hostile piece of software ever pushed forth onto 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.
Instant wireless communication puts everyone in touch with everyone else, 24 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, 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....
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
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 postcyberpunk 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.