From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this tour de force, Doctorow (Little Brother
) uses the contradictions of two overused SF themes—the decline and fall of America and the boundless optimism of open source/hacker culture—to draw one of the most brilliant reimaginings of the near future since cyberpunk wore out its mirror shades. Perry Gibbons and Lester Banks, typical brilliant geeks in a garage, are trash-hackers who find inspiration in the growing pile of technical junk. Attracting the attention of suits and smart reporter Suzanne Church, the duo soon get involved with cheap and easy 3D printing, a cure for obesity and crowd-sourced theme parks. The result is bitingly realistic and miraculously avoids cliché or predictability. While dates and details occasionally contradict one another, Doctorow's combination of business strategy, brilliant product ideas and laugh-out-loud moments of insight will keep readers powering through this quick-moving tale. (Nov.)
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Covering the transformation of Kodacell (formerly Kodak and Duracell) into a network of tiny teams, journalist Suzanne Church goes to Florida and the inventors behind it all, Lester and Perry, who have more ideas than they know what to do with. The New Work (i.e., the network) takes off, with a mini-startup in every abandoned strip mall in America. But suddenly, it crashes, and things get really interesting. Lester and Perry build an interactive ride in an abandoned Wal-Mart, a nostalgia trip through their glory days, that catches the eye of a vicious Disney exec—and the old corporate giants fight their last battle against the new economic order. Doctorow’s talent for imagining the near future is astonishing, and his novels keep getting better. His prognostications are unnervingly plausible and completely bizarre, obviously developed from careful observation of what’s going on at the bleeding edge of technology and culture. The characters are simultaneously completely geeky and suave, lovable and flawed. Even the suits, marketing people and lawyers, are interesting. --Regina Schroeder