Millions of people play multiplayer online games, battling to win virtual "gold," jewels, and precious artifacts. Meanwhile, others seek to exploit this vast shadow economy, running electronic sweatshops in the world's poorest countries, where "gold farmers," harvest virtual treasure for their employers to sell to First World gamers who spend real money to skip to higher levels.
In rural India, Mala's leadership skills in virtual combat have earned her the title of "General Robotwalla." In Shenzen, Matthew is building his own successful gold-farming team. Leonard lives in Southern California but spends his nights fighting virtual battles alongside his buddies in Asia. They will all become entangled with Big Sister Nor, who will build them into a movement that can challenge the status quo.
The forces arrayed against them are willing to use any means to protect their power -- including blackmail, extortion, infiltration, violence, and even murder. To survive, Big Sister's people must outthink the system. This will lead them to devise a plan to crash the economy of every virtual world at once -- a scheme that ends up being the most fun game of all.
Cory Doctorow (craphound.com) is a science fiction novelist, blogger and technology activist. He is the co-editor of the popular weblog Boing Boing (boingboing.net), and a contributor to Wired, Popular Science, Make, the New York Times, and many other newspapers, magazines and websites. A visiting senior lecturer at the Open University, he was formerly Director of European Affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org), a non-profit civil liberties group that defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards and treaties. In 2007, he served as the Fulbright Chair at the Annenberg Center for Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California.
His novels are published by HarperCollins UK and simultaneously released on the Internet under Creative Commons licenses that encourage their re-use and sharing, a move that increases his sales by enlisting his readers to help promote his work. He has won the Locus and Sunburst Awards, and been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and British Science Fiction Awards. His latest novel is Makers, and his last New York Times Bestseller Little Brother was published in May 2008. His latest short story collection is Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present. In 2008, Tachyon Books published a collection of his essays, called Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright and the Future of the Future (with an introduction by John Perry Barlow) and IDW published a collection of comic books inspired by his short fiction called Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now.