Red Team Blues

A 200 page action story from leftist Heinlein Cory Doctorow.

I guess Doctorow usually writes science fiction. In the past I’ve read his books Little Brother and Homeland. They’re definitely in the sci fi vein.

Red Team Blues is not science fiction. Released in 2023, it seemingly takes place before The Pandemic. It does not contain any advanced technology, everything in the story is real. It’s even got pre-dot-com-boom Internet callouts, which seem accurate enough as I recall. The goodreads reviewers totally miss the point of the story. They believe it’s a tech bro story, or a detective story. It’s not.

Just like you can’t separate Doctorow’s prose idol Robert Heinlein’s stories from his Libertarianism, you cannot separate Doctorow’s socialist, anti-copyright leanings from his stories. This book is an anti-big-money screed, nothing less. It’s an exploration of what big money is, how it’s hidden from taxation, who does the hiding, and what visible effects even carefully hidden big, big money has on society.

Doctorow does not like the effects of hidden big money on individuals or on society. Fer chrissake, he moved from London to Los Angeles because of the UK’s shady banking, and the effects that has on London, if we’re to believe his Wikipedia page.

I think the anti-money-laundering ideology in the book is a good thing - every billionaire is a policy failure, as Ben Franklin once wrote, and even legal billionaires tend to use their money to influence national policy to favor big money and billionaires.

Illegal billionaires, a.k.a. “oligarchs”, “drug lords”, and “cartel bosses”, use their money in even more repulsive ways. Red Team Blues tries to pull all of the repulsive stuff that takes place in the shadows or in understated Danish Modern law offices into view as forces in everyday life. Here we have Doctorow himself confirming this reading of the book.