Mar 8, 2011

Book rec: For the Win

Machinery of the Stars by alexiuss
The title is what first made me pick this book up. "For the win". That's something so pop culture and so internet culture that it surprised me to see it on a book, even in teh fiction section. I picked it up, I read the blub, and it was about gaming, it was about gold farming, it was about China and it was about underdogs all over the world banding together to overthrow their oppressors. In other words, right up my ally.

I haven't finished the book, but as far as I can tell, there are groups of people from India, from China, from America all connected somehow by the gaming industry, more specifically, the illegal part of it. Each one has their problems, some are beaten, some are taken to jail, some were dirt poor, each one triumphs over them, but the overall problem still exists. A international, self formed group wants to united all those slaving in the game and demand better from the bosses. All the threads are coming together in a huge showdown that I don't yet know the outcome of, but promises to be epic.

I've only borrowed it this morning I'm already half way through. The things discussed in this book are things that I  ahd taken an interest to and researched about in the past (for own interest only, of course). I like to know things. When something grabs my interest I have a habit of searching for all related information on the internet.

I knew about gold farming before this. Players play the game for long hours with the purpose of getting a large amount of in-game money or prestige items and selling it for real life money, usually against the companies' policies. For the majority of them, the conditions are harsh and they are exploited. There are a lot of these "sweatshops" in China.

Another issue discussed in the book is fair treatment of workers. One idea in the book is that it's not enough to just get good pay and working conditions for one country. If workers in China gets fair pay and work conditions, the companies can pack up and go to India, or Africa or some other country where the workers can be taken advantage of. What's needed is the same fair conditions for workers everywhere, all around the world.

There's something very inspiring in seeing the weaker group band together and finding that together, they are stronger than their bosses. I also love the idea that the internet can be a tool through which so many people in so many places can meet, can communicate and pool all their effort together to achieve something huge.

I can vividly imagine every character in my mind, they all seem real because they are all so plausable. A part of the book talked about what the female factory workers go through, what the villagers suffer to work in the big city. I knew these problems, I knew they existed and that made it real. There were several words the author was trying to pass of as exclusive net slang in Chinese but are really just pingyin of words used in everyday life, but that's a very minor flaw that won't jump out at anyone that doesn't know Chinese. The great thing is that most Chinese words are used correctly in the book and all the pingyin is right.

I could tell you to pick it up from your local library, but even better, read it online for free first. The author releases all his novels under a Creative Commons license, so they're free for copying if it's not for profit. Download For the Win here, and I plan to read Little Brother later. Actually, as a note to myself, read his Eastern Standard Tribe, Makers, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.

This person sums up the book much better than me. Hope he'll convince you to read it if I haven't.

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