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Makers Paperback – October 12, 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reissue edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765312816
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765312815
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #869,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dmitry Portnoy VINE VOICE on November 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Remember "The Graduate"? Benjamin, a child of privilege, has no idea what to do with his life. At his graduation party, a colleague of his father's pulls him aside, and says "I have one word for you: plastics."

The rest of the movie isn't about that, of course, but about Benjamin's sexual and romantic exploits. But in some parallel universe, perhaps a different version of "The Graduate" exists, where Benjamin follows his father's colleague's advice, goes into plastics, becomes an inventor, strikes out on his own, and winds up rebelling not against Mrs. Robinson, but Exxon, or GE or IBM.

"Makers" is the closest thing in this universe to that version. It is youthful and exuberant, but also world-weary and wise, and freshly of-the-moment. Part I is a head-spinning avalanche of incident and invention, Part II, a meditation on failed revolutions, Part III the battle plan for a hard-fought, ambiguous, but plausible victory.

The book is many things: let me point out three. One: it is a catalogue of brand-new desirable products. My personal favorite is the lego-block-shaped ice-cubes. I want them so badly. You'll have your own favorites, I am sure. You'd have to go back to "American Psycho" for so many wonderful things to buy on each page. But "Makers" is much hipper: genuine cool versus ironic-cool.

Two: it is a detailed, extremely plausible, and only thinly disguised history of the dot-com bubble and the intellectual property wars since the World Wide Web came into being. It is thus simultaneously about the near future and the recent past. In other words, it is about this minute.

Third: it's the best popular business book I've ever read, better than "The Tipping Point," better than "Freakanomics," better than "The Black Swan.
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Format: Hardcover
I won't summarize the plot since so many others have already done that. What I'll offer is a warning: It's apparent that Doctorow knows his science. What he doesn't grasp in this book are characters.

If you're a tech geek, you'll probably enjoy the book. All the bits about gizmos hold ones interest briefly, but after very few pages, I needed more humanity.

Doctorow's characters are as mechanical as his technology. I'm hardpressed to say I liked a single character, let alone can remember any of their names. That's depressing considering the vast amount of time I just committed to reading this book.

Final Analysis:

If you're into hard SF where the characters are secondary to the big idea, you might like this book.

If you need some flesh-and-blood people to populate your fictional worlds, this book isn't for you.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well... what can I say. I had high hopes for the book from the blurbs. The sad part is I really wanted to like it, and Part I does start out rather well and interesting. Unfortunately, in Parts II and III the novel quickly devolves into a predictable narrative full of stereotypical and bland characters and a rather adolescent anti-authoritarian pitch. Corporations are evil, lawyers are evil, business in general is evil, while narcissistic 'genius' slackers and misunderstood goth kids are of course the downtrodden revolutionaries that are unfairly being persecuted for wanting "to do cool stuff".

What this "cool stuff" actually is, the novel never really does a good job of imagining because all of the supposed inventions, on consideration, fail to live up to their in-narrative hype. While fiction is allowed much leeway, a work dedicated to technology, and one that tries to be so explicit about all of its gadgets, at least ought to provide what it advertises- neat technology. But absent ground breaking ideas, when the narrative started throwing around 'billion dollar' deals, the 'next big thing', the 'next New Deal' etc. my suspension of disbelief utterly collapsed. And no, bloggers don't shape the world, sorry. Considering the actual tech marvels that are currently being cranked out at an incredible pace, the things this book extols as groundbreaking appear laughable, at best something that belongs in a modern version of 19th century Paris "Arcades", or simply modern carnival chachkas.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had previously read one Cory Doctorow book: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. I liked that one fine, and thought it was well written, and pleasingly bizarre. At the time I had no idea who Doctorow was -- i.e., that he is a sort of internet celebrity, an activist, speaker, and insanely prolific blogger. After I learned more about this intriguing guy, I bought Makers. I found it compelling and repellant at the same time. There were times when I didn't want to finish it, but I couldn't get myself to abandon it. It's strange. A lot of the writing is terrible -- the prose and the characterization. It reads as if Doctorow plowed throught the first draft in three weeks and it was published essentially as is, with no revisions. But there are passages that are truly beautiful and insightful.

Some examples of the lazy, bad writing: one of the villains, Freddy, is ugly, lecherous, and has bad breath; the other villain is named Sammy (Freddy and Sammy. Really?), and starts of seemingly as a sort of nebbishy middle manager worried about the fact that he isn't reimbursed by his employer for mileage when traveling, then turns out to be quite high up in the Disney chain of command -- he is in charge of Fantasyland. Then he turns out to be a violent psychotic. And in the end he's sympathetic to the mission of our heroes (Perry and Lester), and just wants to make cool stuff, like they do. I guess that could be a character arc.

More lazy writing: people in this book double over laughing all the time; at one point someone literally rolls on the floor laughing. Have you ever seen an adult rolling around on the floor laughing? Maybe I live a humorless life, but I haven't.
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