Red Team Blues
By: Cory Doctorow
My Rating: Three out of Five Stars
Best for: 18 and up
Ya, Cory’s still smarter than me…
I’m nerd enough to know that blogger-activist-author Cory Doctorow represents all things free speech, but not nerd enough to really understand his cyber syfy stories. I remember picking up Little Brother from the library years and years ago because he got a call out in Ready Player One. I even have good memories of the story. But I also remember feeling dumb because the nuances of teenage computer hackers sticking to THE MAN went way over my head.
Clearly I needed to try again.
I learned from the Internet Webs that Cory Doctorow was using non-traditional publishing to release his latest, Red Team Blues, via Kickstarter (aka sticking it to AMAZON) and that the audiobook would be narrated by Will Wheaton (another bust on the Mt Rushmore of Nerdom). I was happy to donate the money I would have spent anyway to support the cause. A couple weeks later, the successful Kickstarter closed and I downloaded my new DRM free ebook and Audible chains-free audiobook for Read Team Blues.
24 hours later I was finished. How was it?
It’s about a 67-year-old forensic accountant for hire. He’s an old dog whose learned new tricks to stay relevant now that tracking down book cookers involves less Excel and more bitcoin. He lives in an old greyhound bus that used to belong to a rock star. He likes women. Women like him. He’s really good at his job. And he’s just saved a rich friend from losing A LOT of money and earned himself a windfall of a retirement. He’s set.
Too bad the mafia from a few of those small, former Soviet countries blame him for some unfortunate family deaths. Now our hero, grandpa, bachelor, lover, fan of good food, and cyber-detective needs to clear his name while not–you know–dying.
It’s a clever enough set up, but there were two main problems. First, the cyber crime/digital currency stuff is super complicated. I mean, I’m not dumb, but this book made me feel dumb. Second, the actual cool stuff–the detectiveing, running, surviving, clever twisting–is a small part of this small book. There were way more details around fancy meal prep, fancy bourbon, and Silicon Valley history than I was interested in. This story could have easily been a novella or short story and done very well.
But Will Wheaton is a great narrator!
There’s language, violence, fade to black sex. Best for grown ups who enjoy making their food choices as complicated as their digital money.