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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow

Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow. New York: Tor, 2004. ISBN: 0-765-30759-6

This is the best cyber-punk style sci-fi novel I've read in recent years. It's not quite so far out as some of the earlier examples by William Gibson, for instance. This one is just a little way out into the future, projecting current societal trends in cell phone use, for instance. The story is quite engaging as well. I was caught up and carried along. Even though the ending is patently pat, the rest of the book makes it worth it.

The author projects current trends in technology, specifically the iniquitousness of cell phones and convergence between phones, PDAs, the Internet, and the increasing tendencies to interact virtually with one another and the world.

The idea behind the title, Eastern Standard Tribe, is that people align themselves with likeminded folks, regardless of the time zone involved. So people who identify and interact virtually with folks from another time zone, begin to live their own lives in sync with that alternate time zone, hence the "eastern standard tribe." This is one of the weaker arguments of the book, IMHO, as it doesn't really seem likely to me that these online virtual tribes would be so universally based on any one time zone, but rather would be spread equally over many.

Be that as it may, the book was still a great example of projecting recent developments just a little into the future, and imagining what might be if technology and our use of it continue to go in directions that seem to be starting now. Highly recommended not just for sci-fi and cyberpunk fans, but also for anyone interested in extrapolating from current technological trends.

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