Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (Mar 2004)
Doctorow is mostly known for Boing Boing, a site so dangerous I never dare go there for fear of never returning. But he does write as well, and this is a novel about a future so near ... I'm sorry, I just got lost in Boing Boing ... that it's only just beyond Web 2.0. His hero Art is a member of a virtual community, one defined round the Eastern Standard time zone that they keep to, rather than belonging to the London in which he's been living. And the communities sabotage each other - Art carefully does McKinsey-style analysis carefully tuned to bugger up the lives of those of us actually living on the Greenwich Meridian (OK, so it's actually about 1200 metres thataway). But Art then gets an idea about music sharing on major toll roads ...
This is a slim book. It has to be, really, because the themes behind it are going out of date very fast. Although the first edition was merely three and a half years ago, it's already beginning to feel part of a past era, part of the first blush of original Napster-style music sharing and virtual communities and the like. I liked it, but others could find it a bit irritating.
The first book I feel needs a BBE date.