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Eastern Standard Tribe Paperback – March 10, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (March 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765310457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765310453
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Canadian-born Cory Doctorow has held policy positions with Creative Commons and the Electronic Frontier Foundation and been a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Southern California. He is a co-editor of the popular weblog BoingBoing (boingboing.net), which receives over three million visitors a month. His science fiction has won numerous awards, and his YA novel LITTLE BROTHER spent seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Customer Reviews

This book is packed with clever ideas, but they never go anywhere.
Karl Elvis
The storyline seems as if it isn't fully developed, as are the characters, the story ends abruptly, and the whole book feels rushed and too short.
Robbie Honerkamp
The story telling, to me, smelled very strongly of some very classic literature.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Karl Elvis on October 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book starts out so damned strong. The first couple of chapters were the sort of writing that made me stop dead, put the book down, and say 'wow' out loud. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Doctorow is an incredibly talented writer, as well as a truly clever man.

But somehow, the cleverness seems to out-pace the writing. This book is packed with clever ideas, but they never go anywhere. Plot twists don't make a lot of sense, the setup at the beginning never develops into a meaningful plot.

Ultimately this is a frustrating book. So much good up front, so little on the back. As if Doctorow had a beginning and tossed off an ending just to get the book out. This is possible since he's released it under the Creative Commons license; it may be he was in a hurry to make the statement by getting it out there and didn't take time. Or it may be that he's just an idea guy and has trouble with the plots (as I writer, I've been known to suffer this).

This book is worth reading for the first few chapters. Truly, truly worth reading and re-reading. But it's not a satisfying book; my hope is that Doctorow lives up to his potential with the next one. because when he's good, goddamn, he's incredibly good.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Elisabeth Carey on August 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
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 industrial sabotage against the Greenwich Mean Tribe. Virgn/Deutsche Telekom thinks he's working for them, improving their user interface; in fact he's trying to make it almost unusable. 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.

Art's having fun, screwing with V/DT's user interface, dreaming up a really good, fun, and profitable idea for EST to sell to MassPike, involving rights management for downloaded music. 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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After the success of "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" and "A Place so Foreign and Eight More" I expected better from this work. The story of Art Berry and his membership of the EST in the near future lacks most of the elements that have enlivened Doctorow's previous works.
I never got very involved with Art or his companions in this story, I didn't really care much in the end if Art got out of the mental asylum or not. He really was better off there! The writing is generally good but not up to his previous standards alas. The story is only moderately interesting and many of the jokes and in-humour about US-English cultural differences are pretty old and uninteresting. The supposed "busines venture" that forms the basis of the action and the characters motivations is just plain silly. The characters of Art's girlfriend and his business partner are two-dimensional and not very believable either.
The sudden wrap-up and rather contrived happily-ever-after ending was rather a letdown too, Doctorow is a better writer than this book indicates.
To be fair there is some good work in this book and some interesting observations, so it's not a total loss. The "fartmobile" methane-powered cars were great touch for example. I quite liked Art's grandmother too, she was one of the few appealing characters in the book.
Another thing I can't help noticing is that both Art in this book and the main character in "Down and Out...", Jules, get very angry (and violent) very easily and seem to have very poor impulse control. They both come across as spoilt and rather teenagerish personalities. It might be time for Doctorow to try for more adult characters.
Doctorow has released EST as a free download again as per "Down and Out..." and I'd recommend you try it that way first before forking out good money for what is likely to prove a rather disappointing and expensive experience otherwise. If you've not read any of Doctorow's work before don't start with this book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By JJ Merelo on January 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Believe me, I love Cory Doctorow. I follow his blog, get his newsletter, and have read very good short stories written by him. That's why I expected more from this novel.

Its strong points are the ideas: the concept of Tribe, the focus on User Interface, the ubiquity of the comm, the use of language. But it has weak points, and the main one is the plot, which is quite conventional, using plot devices straight out of Creative Writing 101: starting 'in media res', 'deus ex machina' for solving the 'someone flew over the cuckoo's nest'/'catch 22' problem, overheard conversations, dialogue for background...

However, I think this book is a promising second book of somebody that, in the future, will become an excellent writer. Maybe it's worth reading just for the 'I discovered him first' value.
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