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Watch out Wile E Coyote This techno thriller with a message is not just for the online gaming community The brutal dystopia portrayed here is not too far removed from today s reality of economic exploitation and the mobilising potential of the Internet to influence political change Non gamers may find difficulty with the jargon, but if you struggle with economic theory, this is a great crash course on the global economic meltdown that may be facing us all.Extract Confidence makes value Value makes value, which makes confidence Which makes value.But it s not infinite Think of a cartoon character who runs off a cliff and keeps running madly in place, able to stay there until someone points out that he s dancing on air, at which point he plummets to the sharp rocks beneath him.For so long as everyone believes in the value of a Svartalfheim sword, the sword will be valuable, and get valuable As the pool of people who might buy a Svartalheim sword grows say, because they re getting calls from their brokers offering to sell them elaborate, complex sword futures a contract to buy a sword at a later date , or because their smart ass nieces and nephews are talking them up the likelihood that someone will say Are you kidding me This is a sword in a video game goes up.Confidence is great, but it isn t everything Reality catches up with everyone, eventually All cartoon characters eventually plummet to the bottom of the canyon And every sword is eventually worthless.Reviewed on www.whichbook.net A techno thriller about kids trying to counter the nefarious forces behind the profit making in the multi player computer gaming world The virtual gold, special weapons, and status items from the games form the basis of a serious economy, which includes sweatshops of impoverished kids in third world countries run by gangsters The what if in this tale has to do with the idea of international unions of such workers, which gains momentum by alignment with other traditional factories that exploit workers, including dangerous plastic and electronic recycling enterprises It was kind of fun to experience teens in China, Singapore, Malaysia, and India begin to collaborate and harness the power of virtual communities across borders and face down the brutal methods of big corporations and criminal cartels But one s patience is often tried by wallowing in technical details of their schemes and lessons in economics Yes, I learned a lot about the depths of arbitrage, for example, but, as another example, I didn t need so many pages on how a kid from California snuck into China by making a dwelling out of a cargo container I was emotionally engaged and entertained by some of the large cast of characters, like the 14 year old girl in India who braved standing up to a local thug running a virtual gold mining crew of gamers and an internet radio host who inspired international factory girls So like 3.5 stars in my overall scheme of reading pleasure. I m not sure if I ve just read a novel or had a lesson in economics Cory Doctorow s dystopian novel For the Win tells the story of the exploitation of an online role playing game s economy In the running of what could be classed as electronic sweatshops throughout Asia, gold farmers suffer from very poor work conditions in the effort to mine gold and find virtual treasure to sell to first world customers The novel has a typical unite and rise against authority to improve our lifestyle plot but add a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game MMORPG this book makes for some interesting concepts While this book is a book about slave labour, gangsters and forming a revolution, this book also dives into the world of global finance in a very educational way Full reveiw can be found on my blog I actually liked this a lot than I thought I would I expected it to make me cranky, but I really enjoyed reading it When I thought hard about it, though, it was missing something revelatory, I think, that s keeping me from rounding up the rating In my heart And on Goodreads One thing I knew right away, though it really is overlong This story doesn t have to be 500 pages To its credit, there isn t any thread or character I immediately think of cutting, but there s just a lot This book is a ton of people Maybe a trim in each region would have helped Yasmin Ashok in India and Matthew in China are nice but not critical Conversely, about Big Sister Nor would have been good The funny, exclamation pointy authorial economics lessons work pretty well, and they lend some seriousness to the plot points, but they do stick out a bit too.But generally speaking, the deeply international setting is wonderful, and written like the author has been on the ground in those places not sure , the slang is cool, there s a lot of day to day culture that feels right, and the sociological take is almost never off key There are perhaps a dozen too many chin waggles The best parts just stick out really well Jie and her Jiandi folk hero internet pirate radio show fame in China is amazing That whole long, long, long scene when she first scoops Lu up and keeps him safe in one of her secret apartments and puts him on the air is probably the coolest part of the book I also really liked Wei Dong Leonard and his flight from American boarding school, and his voyage in a teched out shipping container He gets the only kid and parents family drama in the book and that s done nicely, though feels a bit out of place in this book about teenagers, the internet, and bad business.In general, this felt like a great book for this author to write because it s awesome to have so much internet in a novel, written by someone who isn t only doing research, who feels it too This reminds me of the item on my wish list that is John Green write a book about internet friends Pretty much all of this stuff is real, or like what s real, and it s a deep level of detail but written really invitingly Most of it isn t in my experience, but enough is tangential that it s exciting or funny or touching when it should be All the hacker ish stuff is totally thrilling to someone who s never done any of it, I won t lie You lost me at proxy , but ok I am totally flipping the page The level of totally real espionage needed just to stay online, it s great, portrayed really well, and relevant to actual real places.The only thing is, the thrust of the book, unionizing the gamers and this mission s clashes with authority I m not sure any of this was necessary I mean it s set up to make a lot of sense, and we can see in the story how these workers are exploited and just, charming to read this YA book about labor organization you guys But I think the workers of the world thing connects in only a limited way Characters die one of which was surprising, one of which was not And this ambition kind of hurts its ending the scope is so big that waiting for all the laces to tie up is sort of ho hum, eventually.Moments I liked You violate the social contract, the other person doesn t know what to do about it There s no script for it There s a moment where time stands still, and in that moment, you can empty out his pockets And Wei Dong loved his parents He wanted their approval He trusted their judgment That was why he d been so freaked out when he discovered that they d been plotting to send him away If he hadn t cared about them, none of it would have mattered And, a joke worthy of repeating on the internet He could feel everything that was happening in the games he ran He could tell when there was a run on gold in Svartalfheim Warriors, or when Zombie Mecha s credits took a dive He could tell when there was a traffic jam on the Brooklyn Bridge in Zombie Mecha as too many ronin tried to enter Manhattan to clear out the Flatiron Building and complete the Publishing Quest. Wow what a crazy book From a slow, sometimes confusing, start it just rolls on and on and you have to hold tight A book about the working class and slave labour of the computer future it stars the poor of the world driven to work in crappy conditions for crappy pay just to make gold for rich Westerners Interspersed with their quest to throw off the shackles of oppression and very vivid and frightening lessons on economy and just how fragile the global financial system is and how based on shit it as If you really want to save for the future it s not money you should be storing.A thrilling book with so many real situations I highly recommend it I just hope we can find true equality for all before it s too late. Maybe it s just me, but Cory s books are beginning to read like libertarian fanfiction As with Makers, this book was didactic and segued into let s study economics a little too often for my liking As always, the bad guys are demonized and the good guys get all the sympathetic ink Heavy handed is the word one would use for Cory s books I applaud the clarity of the writing there is no way to mistake what Cory s trying to say but if there s one thing that turns me off, it s preaching Little Brother was the strongest of all Cory s books, and on the strength of that and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom I have given all his books a chance, but honestly, the pedantism throughout Makers was a letdown, and For the Win did not score a Win with me for the same reason Cory needs to cut down on the lecturing, stat.I think I m done with Cory s books for life unless he pulls out something significantly different in the future Don t get me wrong, I sympathize with the gold farmers and I deplore the exploitation that occurs, but I read For the Win hoping he would describe a solution as he did in Little Brother I was at least all right with the way Makers ended With For The Win, I had the distinct feeling the ending was a cop out I am not impressed. I don t much like economics I like Cory Doctorow s metaphor here in For the Win of the economy like a train most people have no idea where it s going, or whether the driver is even still alive while economists speculate on all of this, some people pay attention to them while others just ignore them entirely and watch the scenery go by.I don t much like economics, but I guess I should admit that the economy is important Similarly, I won t accept the cop out idea that it s impossible to comprehend economics unless you re some kind of genius That s why I love Doctorow s didactic novels he is so good at taking a subject he is clearly passionate about and breaking it down into easier to understand lessons So, yes, For the Win has a lot of pointed lectures about economic theories, from investments and hedge funds to shortselling and market panic but it s all couched in examples from fictitious game economies I love that.The cast of this novel is also stunning Doctorow assembles quite a diverse bunch Chinese gold farmers and dissidents, Indonesian labour rights advocates, Indian gold farmer busting gamers, etc There are gamers and economists, concerned parents and bemused traditional union leaders Most importantly, these characters don t always get along Mala and Yasmin s opinions diverge in Dharavi, only for the two to be drawn back together after a dangerous confrontation Even then, they don t always see eye to eye I like stories where the protagonists have this kind of low level conflict conflict not for drama s sake, mind you, but in the service of acknowledging that it is seldom clear what the right thing to do is.Most of the main characters change quite a bit Doctorow allows some time to elapse between each major part of the novel By skipping forward in this way, he can bring us to new and interesting impasses, whether it s the rift between Mala and Yasmin or Wei Dong s crazy plan to smuggle himself into China One notable impression this makes is how privileged I am, as a Western reader, compared to many of the characters in this book There is a deceptive and dangerous idea that somehow technology, particularly the Internet, is somehow going to liberate people in developing nations from oppression and unjust labour and create a equal society That s clearly not the case here Mala and her army have access to the Internet, but it s just another tool that her boss uses to keep her oppressed and dependent on him for income and protection.On the flip side, Doctorow shows us how the Internet and related technologies can be forces for good, when used as one might use any other tool The Webbly gold farmers take the very same economies that others use to oppress them and, by cornering the gold markets, take those economies hostage for their own ends Doctorow distills the basic tenets of union and labour philosophy in a very simple way one or two people standing up for themselves will end badly nearly everyone standing up for each other makes a statement so loud the world can hear.The resolution is somewhat unrealistic, perhaps, in its scope, although there are tinges of bittersweetness to it It s appropriate enough given the big, dramatic nature of the entire plot And throughout the novel, Doctorow shows realistically enough the brutal ways in which those in power respond to people s attempts to organize and unionize he does not pull his punches there He makes me feel such pitch perfect pathos for these characters, both the ones who suffer and the ones who survive It s easy to get caught up in the rush of the moment and that feeling of power and triumph he encourages you to get a piece of that elation There s so much going on, though, and he captures that too.For the Win has a great deal of nuance, then It s not light reading, in the sense that Doctorow does digress on many points economical But he does this through examples in games and game economies He takes the topical but global idea of games and how those make money for companies and marries it with the issue of cheap and abusive labour practices The result is a sometimes bizarre but somewhat brilliant piece of contemporary science fiction, and I, for one, feel much improved and much entertained having read it. Cory Doctorow sure is smart He wrote this story, too, but that doesn t seem to matter because he is so busy telling you stuff, like how government borrowing and inflation work together, even though that has nothing to do with the story And also how when we get together in the virtual, corporate owned worlds, we can all work together as comrades for the common good and we don t even have to learn the words to L Internationale.This is a combine two things book Sometimes that works, this time, it doesn t Doctorow combines gold farming in online games with the derivative driven financial meltdown Well, and labor unions, so three things.It would be a better book without Cory lecturing us for two or three pages every once in a while, but even after I started skipping those, it wasn t a good book There were big loops of plot that went nowhere, like when Leonard Wei Dong disappears into the LA underworld I was sure that his dad was out of the picture after the car wreck, but no, the hand of the author takes care of that 170 pages later And the shipping container thing is ridiculous And the info about the Mechanical Turks could have been introduced differently, or heck, left out, since they make no difference in the end The plot seems complicated, but it is all filigree on a pretty straight line He doesn t do than scratch the cardboard surface of most the characters I couldn t remember whether one of them was male or female The places feel real, he makes sure that his Chinese characters smoke all the time, and the Indian gamers are better fleshed out than the rest.The real reason to skip this book is that it is so safe This has all been hashed out before It is sad that, thirty years after True Names, this is considered successful SF. Apparently this is a young adult novel I say apparently as I didn t really pick up on that fact throughout How can a book that devotes a dozen pages at a time to discussing political, social, moral and economic ideals be aimed at thirteen year olds This is the multinational, multicultural story of how the future workers of the world might be unionised, told via the interlinked lives of disenfranchised game players who are being abused by their employers in one way or anotherHe hated it when adults told him he only felt the way he did because he was young As if being young was like being insane or drunk, like the convictions he held were hallucinations caused by a mental illness that could only be cured by waiting five years Can teen angst in a teenaged character just be considered good characterisation rather than aimed at teens Nothing is sugarcoated in this story either, Doctorow uses strong violence alongside strong images and an entertaining post cyberpunk story to craft some kind of hybrid GB84 meets The Windup GirlWe re going to fight this battle with everything we have, and we will probably lose But then we will fight it again, and we will lose a little less, for this battle will win us many supporters And then we ll lose again And again And we will fight on Because as hard as it is to win by fighting, it s impossible to win by doing nothing The didactic nature of Doctorow s prose could definitely leave the wrong readers cold and for me this was the only real flaw whilst being an interesting and accessible education it was occasionally repetitive and stopped the natural flow of the story This didn t dampen my enjoyment of the story too much but then I m a thirty year old man who finds lots of things interesting to read about, but if you go back to the fact that it s supposedly aimed at teen boys world of warcraft players I can t see the enthusiasm lasting through a treatise on union history or social contracts or some other complex economic idea Also if the idea of reading page after page of in game battle descriptions bores you, as it does me, think twice before paying for this one Instead why not take advantage of Mr Doctorow s ideas on digital rights management and download it for free from his personal website It s a no lose scenario. `READ DOWNLOAD ⇴ For the Win ↾ In The Virtual Future, You Must Organize To SurviveAt 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, 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 GameplayMala Is A Brilliant 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 , 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 QuoThe 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 AllImbued With The Same Lively, Subversive Spirit And Thrilling Storytelling That Made LITTLE BROTHER An International Sensation, FOR THE WIN Is A Prophetic And Inspiring Call To Arms For A New Generation