Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

For The Win For The Win
by Cory Doctorow
Harper Voyager

Supplied for review by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

For the Win is the latest economic-cum-science fiction novel from the pen of Cory Doctorow, continuing the themes and style of his previous novel Makers – and there is the rub. If you enjoyed Makers, finding it an unstoppable read, then you will love For the Win; conversely, if you struggled to get to the end of Makers then For the Win is not the book for you.

For the Win is set in the near future – tomorrow, next year, five year’s hence, it really doesn’t matter – and explores the world of online massive multi-player games (such as The World of Warcraft), why there are "gold farmers" working in places such as India, Indonesia and China and how the game owners treat with those farmers.

For the most part For the Win is an interesting, well constructed and well paced story, with believable characters in believable situations. However, and you knew a however was coming, Mr Doctorow is one of those authors who won’t let you forget he has done a significant amount of research and feels the need to share the fruits of that research with you. So at odd moments the flow of the story is interrupted with information bombs about the workings and economics of financial markets and allied fields. These information bombs are perpetrated on the reader in the same manner in which the old-time engineering-based authors used to riddle their science fiction with engineering techno-babble; and with the same effects of patronising their readers and breaking the flow of the story. For me there was also the curious feeling (as I have more than a passing knowledge of economics and money markets) that Mr Doctorow may have got it wrong (sometimes subtly, sometimes significantly), which derailed my reading of the story as I pondered his economic analysis. Whether this pondering the Machiavellian world of economic game playing was his intention I will leave to the author, all I know is that it jarred me out of the book – sometimes for days at a time. Fortunately, the way the book is written those information bombs are easy enough to spot when you get to them.

In short, For the Win was a parson’s egg of a book much more good than bad, but a book that some simple and judicious editing could have been so much better. If I have a recommendation or the reader it’s skip the economics lectures when you come across them in the text as the book reads so much better without them.

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