This story is fiction and describes a world known as “virtual.” Yet, the economics discussed in its pages are as real as your laid off friend or the foreclosures up and down the street. In a time when national economies rise and fall on algorithms designed to sell money that never existed and corporate executives go unpunished for stealing thousands of people’s pensions and livelihoods, the idea that the virtual world may well provide us with clues on how to organize the real one is not far-fetched at all. Perhaps we should listen up.
For The Win is a dazzling piece of fiction: it makes you feel, it makes you think, and you come away from it wiser, looking at the world in a different way.
Once again, Doctorow is on the cutting edge with this exciting blend of economic theory, technological advances, game theory, and social activism. This isn’t just another YA adventure, it’s a manifesto for a new generation of Internet-savvy thinkers and doers.
The big, fat fantasy/sci-fi novel of the season avoids the supernatural, except as expressed in game worlds online. Canadian Cory Doctorow’s For the Win may even be labelled “probable” rather than “speculative” fiction.
This is an ambitious tale featuring a dozen tech-savvy narrators from around the world who all make their livelihoods playing and scamming video games. The cumulative effect of so many interwoven stories is that new ones feel like a layer of the previous. While each of the narrators could have easily been the star of his or her own book, they are instead strands of Doctorow’s global web, proving that everything’s interconnected.
These characters are neither post-modern nor post-anything much else; they are not bored, disengaged, ignorant, amoral. They are young people caught up in a global struggle for justice in a manner impossible even two decades ago, thanks to the new transnational space they inhabit.
It’s an arena whose unintended effect is to offer its players a crash course in the game-like nature of the political and economic battles waged around them – as well as providing a context within which friendships can grow irrespective of race, nationality, wealth, age, gender or creed. Doctorow’s American teenager teaches himself Mandarin in his spare time, the better to play alongside his guild buddies, even while his parents bemoan the uselessness of his gaming habit.
Expect Doctorow’s usual skill with plotting, prose and pace to ensure that you’ll finish this book with the same fever any much-desired title will instill. There are a lot of great Big Ideas rattling around in here, told in a manner that even adults can grok. ‘For the Win’ is already a winner.