Find it at your local indie!
- Why I picked it up: CORY DOCTOROW. Enough said.
- Disclosure: Bought a final published edition. (From my local indie! Yay!)
At any hour of the day or night, millions of people around the globe are engrossed in multiplayer online games, questing and battling to win virtual gold, jewels, and precious artifacts. Meanwhile, others seek to exploit this vast shadow economy,Yeah. That extra long description kind of sums up how I felt about this book. Insanely awesome...but disappointing at the same time. Too long-winded. Not enough story. Long tangents I don't really care about. Lots of that achey sadness I get inside when an author/blogger I LOVE doesn't live up to my expectations.
running electronic sweatshops in the world’s poorest countries, where countless “gold farmers,” bound to their work by abusive contracts and physical threats, harvest virtual treasure for their employers to sell to First World gamers who are willing to spend real money to skip straight to higher-level gameplay.
Mala is a brilliant 15-year-old from rural India whose leadership skills in virtual combat have earned her
the title of “General Robotwalla.”
In Shenzen, heart of China’s industrial boom, Matthew is defying his former bosses to build his own successful
gold-farming team. Leonard, who calls himself Wei-Dong, lives in Southern California, but spends his nights fighting virtual battles alongside his buddies in Asia, a world away. All
of these young people, and more, will become entangled with the
mysterious young woman called Big Sister Nor, who will use her experience, her knowledge of history, and her connections
with real-world organizers to build them into a movement that can challenge the status quo.
The ruthless forces arrayed against them are willing to use any means to protect their power—including blackmail, extortion, infiltration, violence, and even murder. To survive, Big Sister’s people must out-think the system. This will lead them to devise a plan to crash the economy of every virtual world at once—a Ponzi scheme combined with a brilliant hack that ends up being the biggest, funnest game of all.
Let's get this straight. I still adored this book. Cory Doctorow = the coolest, geekiest author you will ever have the pleasure of reading. He never fails to challenge my beliefs in a non-offensive, mind-blowing way, and For the Win was no exception. But it still wasn't nearly as awesome as Little Brother. Was it the fact that there was EVEN MORE techno-geekery jargon? Was it the fact that there were way too many characters and not enough action that didn't happen on computer screens? Was it that I just didn't care as much about virtual economies as I care about the security vs. freedom debate? Probably a combination of all three.
The only "virtual economies" I've ever participated in are Neopets, Virtual Horse Ranch, and Runescape; and I was a very sluggish participant at that. (Well, I rocked at Virtual Horse Ranch, possibly the nichiest game of all time, but that was also because I was stupid enough to invest my real money in a game; something I have sworn never, ever to do again, no matter how tempted I am to join Second Life. And yes, that sentence did run on.)
Actually, I find the way the Internet and the economy interact to be fascinating. Ironically, I'm now reading Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, which is an excellent nonfiction book that quotes Cory Doctorow on many issues. And yes, in case you are wondering, I am a nerd. (Whoops, sorry, intellectual bad @$$.) Point being, though, that no matter how interesting the techno-geekery behind this book was, the story was spread to thin to carry it as well as Little Brother did. Also, I got really confused as to how much was fiction and how much was real; something I hate because it makes me feel stupid when I quote what I think is fact and then get informed that it is way, way fiction.
Hey, look! Imagine that! Another book I could go on about for PARAGRAPHS AND PARAGRAPHS AND PARAGRAPHS. Let's sum it up: I really do find the facts behind this book fascinating. I read it, enjoyed it, and don't regret buying it. And bravo to Cory Doctorow for keeping it real with his multicultural characters. But if you loved Little Brother, you're going to be disappointed. And if Little Brother just wasn't your thing, you will probably hate this book.
I just wish I could throw myself behind this book as much as I'd like to, but I can't. It's still worth reading, especially in today's very virtual world, but it didn't leave me with that exciting tingly good-book feeling that Little Brother did.
The Final Verdict: Good, but not great; interesting, but dry - not nearly as enjoyable as Little Brother but still decent. Three and a half out of five stars.