Raven, Paul Graham. 'Los Piratas del Mar de Plastico (The Pirates of the Plastic Sea)'

Paul Graham Raven, "Los Piratas del Mar de Plastico (The Pirates of the Plastic Sea)"  (2014). Collected in Twelve Tomorrows (2014), ed. Bruce Sterling, it bears comparison with another story in the same volume, Cory Doctorow's "Petard: A Tale of Just Desserts."

Two tales, very different in flavour and mood, but thematically complementary. Both explore the tensions and contradictions between what you could call capitalist ideology and entrepreneurial ideology (or "entrepreneurial-engineering stance," perhaps); both ferociously snuffle at the blurred line between market forces and the forces which shape markets (& here's PGR on infrastructure fiction).

Both stories are also interested in the way dynamics which pop up with an anti-capitalist belligerence, or at a tangent to capitalism, can get recuperated by capital. Including, perhaps, the appropriation of the ideology of "disrupting" itself: the last thing you'd expect of Doctorow's and Raven's arch market-disruptors Sergey and Niceday is any pinko sass.

Doctorow's title invites us to think of his Sergey as an extrapolation of the same logic embodied by his hero Lukasz; petard is a reference to the expression "hoisted on your own petard" (it's from Hamlet: "For tis the sport to haue the enginer / Hoist with his owne petar"), so there's a sense of Lukasz, in many ways a classic Doctorowian activist everyhacker, getting beaten at his own game, or gulping down a taste of his own medicine. (More specifically, the idiom is about being blown up by your own grenade. So perhaps it's a story about knowing just the right moment to let go of something?)

Both Doctorow's and Raven's story also contains more-or-less the same line, as nemesis (Sergey / Cedric) offers protagonist (Luckasz / Hope) the opportunity to join a thrilling and intellectually fulfilling, but morally dubious cutting-edge economic enterprise.

That line is: "I'll think about it."

(JLW)