For the Win, Cory Doctorow’s latest novel, is easily the best of his latest works. These three books – Little Brother, Makers, and now For The Win – are all centered around an issue or cause. While all three are engaging explorations of the issues (privacy and freedom, the nature to work, and now, unions and organizing along with the economics of MMORPGs), For the Win easily has the most empathetic and fleshed-out characters of the three.
It is a good story of global organization against seemingly insurmountable odds, with smart and fierce children demanding thier rights in a world designed to take it all away from them. It is also an expose of … well, capitalism.
For the Win doesn’t offer up socialism as a panacea, but it does point the way toward sustainable win-win solutions instead of zero-sum aggression. It also illustrates – and quite clearly – some complicated economic principles. (For example, the gold standard was always a farce, and just as silly as our current economic system.)
These small infodumps – while extremely good, so far as infodumps go – are still big masses of information, and they detract a bit from the flow of the story. They’re necessary for the story, so it’s not mere polemic, but I still wish there was a somewhat elegant way to put these bits in the story.
There’s also a few returning character archetypes that Doctorow’s used – most notably, the “bad guy” who realizes he hates being a bad guy at the end of the book.
This book was especially powerful to me, since I actually make money (though a small amount) in Second Life. The idea that those economies are as important (if not more important) than many other “real” ones is a concept I’m well prepared to embrace.
Despite the few flaws, the rest of the book comes along quite nicely (and quickly). Definitely the best of these three issue books, and perhaps one of the most immediately relevant.
As usual, Cory’s books are available on his website for free as well.