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Eastern Standard Tribe by [Doctorow, Cory]
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Eastern Standard Tribe Kindle Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Length: 234 pages

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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

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 264 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (July 23, 2010)
  • Publication Date: August 5, 2010
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003VTZSLI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,016,673 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cory Doctorow is one of the great living sci-fi masters, a futurist, a humanist and a humorist.

This book is classic Doctorow. In it he foretells our addiction to smart phones, the rise of connection and the industrialization of the copyright regimes.

It's impossible to put down, and if you haven't read it yet, I'm truly jealous.
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Format: Paperback
Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow was my selection for my local book club read this month. It had been sitting on my shelf for over a year and I was still curious. The premise is that that people are divided by time zones. They don't have to live in a particular time zone to identify with it. With an online world, it is easy to work and socialize/game with people anywhere. The main character Art Berry identifies with the Eastern Standard (EST) time zone even though he is currently working in England. This constant time zone shifting tends to play havoc with peoples states of mind.

While Art is in London working for one company, he is actually an agent for the EST and trying to undermine the company's success as well as the standing of other tribes. All seems to be progressing well until he is involved in an automobile accident. He hits a pedestrian, Linda, and they both end up in the same hospital room. From that point on, their paths cross and intersect as they build a personal relationship. This turns out to be a major complication in his line of business.

Our book club had a lively conversation of this book. The concept of aligning yourself with people from different time zones was a bit far fetched. Yes, we admit that it does happen for the purpose of work meeting with distant staff and for online game playing, but to live your whole life with a shifted internal clock, nope, we didn't buy it. Only exception I came up with was those scientists studying the Mars Rover who set their hours by Mars time.

How widespread are these tribes. We all got the impression that it was not a global phenomenon, rather small groups of dissatisfied people who had banded together. Outside of these groups, the general population hadn't heard of them.
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Format: Paperback
There is a book here that I would love, but this isn't it. Tribes are self-selecting, internet-founded communities whose activities transition into the real world; members modify their lives (and sleep schedules) to interact with the Tribe and the Tribe rewards them with everything a community can, from socialization to business opportunities. But Eastern Standard Tribe isn't about that: it's about disintegration on the fringes of a Tribe, immersed in the technology that's created Tribes but preoccupied by banal characters and petty interactions. The future tech sells itself, buzzword-heavy and transparently cyberpunk but still believable; the concept and glimpses of a functioning Tribe are captivating. This is a short text, propelled forward by an intriguing paired narrative, first person/present tense and third person/past tense both focused on the same character, but Doctorow's writing lacks refinement and begs an editor (one who would remove the excessive italics, demarcated in my ebook by asterisks). I regret the book this isn't--I'd love to read about the how and why of a Tribe, its members and social function--but there's potential here: Doctorow is clearly invested in his concepts of the future, and his writing has momentum and strong dialog. I'll try more from him at a later date, but don't particularly recommend Eastern Standard Tribe.
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Format: Paperback
This novel was a little disappointing, but the concepts and the framing of the story were terrific. The title of Eastern Standard Tribe hints at a cultural trend which I haven't seen, but surely is out there. People have always been drawn to affinity groups, based on common interests. The internet and social networks have enabled our social groups to become more and more specialized. So what if your specific interest group is centered in Hong Kong? Or Southern California? And you live in Texas? You can adjust your sleep schedule so that your waking hours line up with your group. The problem is the resulting sleep deprivation may effect your mental health; your circadian rhythms may never catch up. Such is the plight of Art. When his partner and girlfriend betray him and have him involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, he has a hard time proving he's not insane, since his sleep patterns have, in a way, driven him insane.

This theme of involuntary institutionalization struck a chord with me. It reminded me of the work of Thomas Szasz , who wrote The Myth of Mental Illnessand many other works, and Jeffrey Schaler, author of Addiction is a Choice. These two psychologists have written prolifically and profoundly against involuntary institutionalization. Art experiences the dilemma of involuntary institutionalization: there is no practical way to prove that one is not insane. While in the mental hospital, Art is kept drugged up and can't properly prove his sanity. Doctorow doesn't explicitly address this issue, per se, but the novel raises the question in an interesting way. The story starts with Art in the hospital, being driven crazy trying to prove that he's not crazy, then moves backwards to piece together how he got there.
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