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 question, the most counterintuitive, user-hostile piece of software ever pushed forth into 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.
The comm -- instant wireless communication -- puts everyone in touch with everyone else, twenty-four hours a day. But one thing hasn't changed: the need for sleep. The world is slowly splintering into Tribes held together by common time zones, less than families and more than nations. And Art is working to humiliate the Greenwich Mean Tribe to the benefit of his own people.
The world of next week is overflowing with ubiquitous computing, where an idea scribbled onto one's comm can revolutionize an industry. 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. Happiness or smarts? What's it going to be, Art?
This book is by Cory Doctorow and was first released as part of his ongoing podcast which incidentally is where I first heard it a year or two ago. I remembered the title but not much else so when I spotted it on podiobooks I downloaded it straight away to get a fresh listen.
The story is set in the not too distant future where technology is powerful and common place, but people are still the same old people with hope, desires... and machinations. That's what the plot revolves around, with characters who belong to modern "tribes".
The book uses the clever mix of alternating chapters one in the present one in the past, and slowly as the book progress' the stories come together to what I thought was a great conclusion.
Cory is reading his own work here and has a loverly clear diction I like to listen to. He doesn't "do voices" yet I never have any difficulty telling who's talking, perhaps that comes from reading his own work.
I was thinking about who would like this book and it's a difficult question. The story is more "Speculative Fiction" than classic science fiction and includes some Instant messenger type conversations, which might well put off anyone who likes standard writing. In the end, I've settled on recommending this book for Gadget freaks who enjoy good and well written characters.
Total Score 8/9
Download it from Podiobooks
Listen to the first chapter