estribe

EASTERN STANDARD TRIBE | CORY DOCTOROW
First published: 2004 | Takes place: 2012
In Cory Doctorow's second Creative Commons–licensed novel, cyberculture has fractured along time zones, as fiercely competitive online "tribes" — described as "less than families and more than nations" — jockey for position, their globally scattered members maintaining allegiances by synching circadian rhythms.

Boston of 2012 is in a state of constant construction. A cloud of dust hangs over the city, while the Mass Pike (now the MassPike) has slowed to a crawl. That's okay, though, because it gives drivers the chance to download music from the servers in each others' cars. For some people, that has become the whole point of going anywhere.

These war-drivers patrol the highway in their fat-burning vehicles, "collecting every song in every car on the turnpike, cruising the tunnels that riddled Boston like mobile pirate-radio stations, dumping their collections to other drivers when it came time to quit the turnpike and settle up for their music at the toll booth."

The protagonist, industrial saboteur Art Berry (an undercover agent for the Eastern Standard Tribe), realizes that the war-drivers are also tastemakers — and thus, a new avenue for marketing. It's a great idea — great enough to get him double-crossed and committed to an insane asylum. On the brink of suicide, he stares at the dust cloud and wonders where it all went wrong.

— SR

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