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Eastern Standard Tribe

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  3,615 ratings  ·  257 reviews
A comedy of loyalty, betrayal, sex, madness, and music-swapping

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 a question, the most counterintuitive, user-hostile piece of software ever pushed forth onto the world.

Paperback, 223 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Tor Books (first published February 17th 2004)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,615 ratings  ·  257 reviews

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May 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Eastern Standard Tribe reads so quickly and flows so well that it feels like it must be light weight fluff -- a throw away entertainment and nothing more -- but it doesn’t take much, only a little thought and a willingness to engage with “dead bodies” and “living flesh,” to see that it is much more.

Cory Doctorow is an unrepentant blogger, and it shows in this, his second novel. His language fizzes and crackles like three bags of Pop Rocks burning their carbonated pleasure on a tongue, popping ou
Jun 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2fiction, scifi
An interesting idea that about how the Internet has changed social & work groups, although it ultimately doesn't make a lot of sense. Still, it was a fun, near future trip that pokes a lot of fun & holes into our current conditions. The main character isn't particularly likable which didn't help the story. The few other characters weren't very well fleshed out. All in all, not a bad way to pass the time. It's fairly short. ...more
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: escape
This book was written by Cory Doctorow, one of the writers at, so it might not surprise you that you that it's under the Creative Commons license and you can read it for free at his site. Being, however, a chump, I paid real Earth dollars for it in meatspace. Meatspace! I am a hip cyberpunk! From the future!

The book is near-future science fiction with just about one cool new idea: in a pervasively connected homogenized world, the most meaningful form of of group identity isn't ge
Oct 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I'm giving this a 3 because I thought a lot of the world-building was interesting and I found the voice engrossing. However, the book is deeply flawed in some irritating ways.

The narrator is sarcastic and not particularly likeable, but he is interesting, I must grant. He's affiliated with a group based in the EST but finds himself in London undercover trying to sabotage other groups. (There's a really interesting theory here about how the internet changes the way that people self-identify; howev
Ruby  Tombstone Lives!
This is another great read, but I've found that Doctorow's first two books (This and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom) are a bit different to his later novels. They're both set further into the future, and while the concepts are interesting, it's all a bit more vague as to how the technology that supports them would actually function. This is to be expected when it comes to speculative fiction I suppose, but I much prefer the detail of the later books.

I found the first couple of sections of th
I liked parts of this; there were some interesting ideas and a few things that made me chuckle or even laugh out loud. It was short, so the things I didn't like didn't go on too long. I did like how things turned out for the main character, although the resolution involved a somewhat-too-tidy chain of coincidences.
The format/style was peculiar, telling part of the story in 3rd person, past tense and part of it in 1st person, present tense although the main character in both parts is the same per
Lawrence M. Schoen
Oct 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Doctorow's voice is so crisp, so clean, it leaps off the page and runs around the house like a puppy on amphetamines. The plot is straightforward, nothing subtle or complex about it. What's subtle is the ease with which Doctorow gets into your head with his ideas. In no time at all you find yourself nodding in agreement, as he explains how tribes work, how they've always worked, and how the global expansion and ease of communication continue to drive such sensibilities. I'm still not sure how mu ...more
Apr 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Freaking. Awesome. I used this quote in so many college essays:

“So you’re a fish out of water. You live in Arizona, but you’re sixteen years old and all your neighbors are eighty-five, and you get ten billion channels of media on your desktop. All the good stuff—everything that tickles you—comes out of some clique of hyperurban club-kids in South Philly. They’re making cool art, music, clothes. You read their mailing lists and you can tell that they’re exactly the kind of people who’d really ap
3.5* I enjoyed this, my first Doctorow, and I will read more of his books. I quite liked the idea of the 'Tribes' as aren't some of us almost like that now? The images of the near future and tech developments were brilliant and clearly imaginable (most of them) and this story did make me laugh at times. ...more
John Defrog
Jan 10, 2020 rated it liked it
When I read this in 2005, Doctorow was being touted as the supposed heir apparent to “cyberpunk” writers like William Gibson and Bruce Sterling who use modern IT tech to extrapolate the near-future. Whatever labels you want to throw on it, this was pretty good, even though the basic premise (that in future, netheads will define their peers by time zones rather than geography) is hard to take seriously. Then again, the main character is a bit of a head case.
I enjoyed this, but mostly for the 'user experience' ideas that the main character had--the 21st century inventor. Some of them were brilliant. I didn't find the idea of the tribes convincing at all, but the rest of the story was fine. ...more
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why I didn’t like Eastern Standard Tribe. The writing is engaging and clever, the editing is spot on, the topic is interesting, but something about the book is just ... off. Maybe I’m not hip enough, not a proud enough member of the target technorati audience, or simply not plugged into the prevailing zeitgeist of cultural change. If that sentence sounded pretentious to you, boy do I have some bad news for you. Of course it’s also possible that Eastern Stand ...more
May 22, 2012 rated it liked it
As I've said before, and will surely say again, I think Cory Doctorow is an amazing human being and I am glad he has sufficient influence to force his vision of the future onto reality, at least a little bit. I mean, seriously, if there are any other modern, (relevant*) authors whose entire literary catelogue I can download without guilt or financial expenditure, someone needs to point me to them immediately.

And for a few dozen pages each, Cory Doctorow's books really sing. I mean, really, who
Michael Battaglia
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As someone who suffered intermittent jet lag for about three weeks following a vacation involving a six hour time difference, the aspect of the novel that should have resonated with me the most was the idea of trying to live in one part of the world while maintaining an internal clock for somewhere else. Alas, that's the part that Doctorow seems to pay the least attention to, despite it being sort of central to his whole premise.

This is the first novel I've read from Doctorow, who I don't know m
Lis Carey
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: f-sf
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 ...more
Aug 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 "rea
Nicholas Karpuk
Ever like a person but drift off when they start discussing their pet obsession? Like a guy who is pretty well-rounded otherwise, but if you get him started on Warhammer 40K or Quantam Physics or his opposition to DRM, he sort of disconnects from you?

That's Cory Doctorow about a 1000 times over. The man appears to be made of pet obsessions. His books are littered with little rants and bits where you see the author poking through the narrative.

And it's a shame, because Eastern Standard Tribe has
Mar 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Cory Doctorow's amazingly written Eastern Standard Tribe starts out with an amazingly epic first chapter, sebsequently following two stories that follow each other, the beginning of the first connecting with the end of the last just before the book ends. This leads to a very strange style of reading, where you know a little more of what happens in the early plot every time you visit the later, but never enough to make either boring.

At times you stop and wonder where the author is going with the
Jeremy Stephens
May 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2011
Once again Cory Doctorow presents a weird world view shaped by realistic human interactions with technology. While this book wasn't as bizarre as Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom, it is worth reading due to its captivating story and ideas relating to the internet groups being the center of one's sense of community. In many ways, this book reminds me of JD Salinger's The Catcher In the Rye- the main character is a misfit who struggles with interpersonal relationships and is telling the story fr ...more
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
I believe that just about any concept, even if recycled or superficially boring, can be grown into a great story. Cultivating narrative greatness might require a surprising -- or unusually restrained -- plot, idiosyncratic or studiously plain characters, poetic or prosaic language. Whatever grafting is necessary, whatever diet and pruning, something delicious can blossom. Eastern Standard Tribe, on the other hand, feels like a plant that has not yet borne fruit.

Full disclosure - I quit reading a
Frank Taranto
An interesting near future story based on the idea that people with similiar attitudes and likes/dislikes will gather into electronic tribes.
Also a lot of high tech cell phone usage for communication and other things, plus a state psychological system gone very wrong.
The story is Art's, who's played by his friend and his lover. It tells about how he gets in and out of trouble at a very frenetic pace.
Best obligatory sex scene ever - three words - "Vigorous sex ensued"
This book is a whole heap of crazy. It starts out incoherent and confused. And then bleeds into dismal. And then visionary. And then all of a sudden it is paying off with a fantastically readable detailed intelligent silly caper. Which then ends believably but suddenly. As in what? The ideas alone are worth reading and thinking about - perhaps not so much the tribes as the usability bits. A cool read but perhaps hard to start.
Sep 24, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, cyber-punk, sf
The plot is okay, but the writing is sub par, and it contains some of the worst descriptive passages of sex I've ever read: "He smiles down at her nipple, which is brown as a bar of Belgian chocolate, aureole the size of a round of individual cheese and nipple itself a surprisingly chunky square of crinkled flesh". Put me off sex for a week that did. And who has square nipples anyway? ...more
Tim Weakley
Another good story from Doctorow! I really enjoy his ability to take current trends and extend them forward in time without turning them into cartoons. He has a knack for believability. His highway mp3 swapping idea is comical and yet I can see people buying into it. The plot is a little contrived but I liked the characters enough to buy into the story.
Jul 01, 2016 rated it liked it
This one was a quick easy read. Interesting enough but not is chair grippingly exciting as Docotorow's other books. Still, an intriguing story line and likeable enough characters. Would make a great short film. ...more
A fun read. Not life changing, but it doesn't have to be. Doctorow creates not-too-distant-future tech that's believable and a main character who's witty and likable. ...more
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Despite my reservations against casual profanity (for which I have been endlessly mocked and derided regarding), I didn't mind Lucy's comment, "Oh yeah, you're the cat's ass, pookie." on page 107 or anything else in the dialogue, as I think that was fairly clearly intended to draw his audience of youth.

I absolutely loved how much this book discussed being on the turnpike. (MassPike in the prose.) And all of its time zone talks pleased me, too, as I have grown up constantly counting on my fingers
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Not my favourite Doctorow's book.

Unlike others, EST just didn't translate to real world for me. Just like in other books of the author, the theme is "dystopian future", but unlike, say, Little Brother or Radicalized, it didn't make me stop and think about today's world. I didn't get the sense of "oh my, I can see how we can end up in the world like this". Even more so, the future depicted in this book doesn't even look that scary. It's just plain weird and "meh".

At the same time, it's an easy r
Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
While Doctorow does a pretty good job with some of the near-future window dressing, the central story falls well short of satisfying. There were a few genuinely interesting ideas and passages, but I'd be hard pressed to name a book with a main female character this badly written. Just about every scene featuring the "girlfriend" has her constantly switching modes from "manic-pixie-sexpot" to "shrieking harpy". Doctorow is also guilty of writing what just might be the worst description of a woman ...more
Cory Doctorow always seems to think outside the box, and even though this one didn't blow me away it definitely had it's bouts of brilliance and originality. The one thing I couldn't get around though was the "girlfriend", she was written as such a complete psycho, selfish, bitch that I didn't find it believable that he stayed with her or if he was the kind of person who would stay with her then I wanted him to fail.

This started off really "meta", but eventually strayed away from that. I thought
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Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of the YA graphic novel In Real Life, the nonfiction business book Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free, and young adult novels like Homeland, Pirate Cinema, and Little Brother and novels for adults like Rapture Of The Nerds and Makers. He is a Fellow for the Elec ...more

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