In a future so close it will be easily mistaken for today, teens all over the world play massively multiplayer online role-playing games, but not all are in the game for fun. In the Third World, the poorest children and teens "farm gold" for ruthless bosses who turn game currency into real-world money. The in-game economies of games like Mushroom Kingdom from Nintendo and Zombie Mecha by Coca-Cola Games rival those of Peru and Portugal. Big Sister Nor in Singapore and a small army of followers slowly and secretly recruit the best players into a fledgling union that could span the globe if it's not destroyed by corporations, corrupt police or repressive governments. Award-winner Doctorow spins a mammoth tale that, when in gear, is as engaging and fascinating as any MMORPG. Unfortunately, it is shot through with economics lectures; regularly, the focus shifts from the large cast of characters to a gentle exposition on union history or social contracts or some other complex economic idea. Fans, future bankers and future gametechs will be in heaven; those without interest will skim or give up by the halfway mark. (Science fiction. YA) Read full book review >
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