Here is a near-future novel about an industrial saboteur who finds himself on the roof of an insane asylum near Boston.
In a 24-hour, instant communication world the need for sleep is the only thing that hasn't changed. The world is splintering into tribes based on time zones; those in other time zones will be at lunch or sleeping when you need them. Only those in your own time zone can be depended upon.
Art lives in London, and he works for a European telecommunications mega-corporation. His "real job" is to make life as difficult as possible for those in the Greenwich Mean Tribe by inserting user-hostile software wherever he can. Of course, other tribes are doing the same thing to Art's "home tribe," the Eastern Standard Tribe.
Art is also working on managing data flow along the Massachusetts Turnpike. Most cars have some sort of onboard computer on which songs are stored, sometimes tens of thousands of songs. Art comes up with a system for wireless transfer of songs between cars, while they are driving on the Mass Pike. Art's business partner, Fede, sends him to Boston to sign an agreement selling the system to a local company. After several days of being told to wait, while "details" are being finalized, Art realizes that he is being screwed by Fede, and Art's girlfriend, Linda. The two met when Art hit her with his car in London. That is how Art finds himself on the roof of a forty-floor insane asylum near Boston; Fede and Linda had him committed there.
As with any Doctorow novel, this book is full of interesting ideas. It's easy to read, very plausible and very much recommended.
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Paul Lappen (plappen)
I am in my early 50s, single and live in Connecticut. I am a lifelong very, very avid reader and am a freelance book reviewer with my ownblog (http://www.deadtreesreview.blogspot.com). Please visit. It … more
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Cory DoctorowsEastern Standard Tribeis 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 ...