Friday, February 19, 2010

JD's Take: Makers (Cory Doctorow)

This one is gonna be pretty quick. I was very disappointed by this novel and don't really want to dwell on it. Cory's usual mad-creative ideas were in evidence, and his characterizations were better than usual. However, compared to his previous works this one just doesn't hold up. There are sections of page-turning-fun as you follow the cast of unique and flawed characters through a near-future pseudo-industrial revolution led by (who else?) the DIY tinkerers. However, the flow of the story is repeatedly stopped short and you'll be forced to endure 50 page long screeds about the evils of corporations, the dangers of "selling out", the corrupting influence of "suits" and lawyers, and the general shittiness of people in general.

I really enjoyed much of Cory's prior work (Eastern Standard Tribe and One Comes to Town, One Leaves Town, and Little Brother are particularly enjoyable). He has a knack for writing near future science fiction that ignores the practical, he just throws around ideas about cool things and pretends that the world will go along with them. This leads to weird future worlds that are LIKE a future we could imagine, filled with references to current-era events and people, but are so fundamentally UNreal that they become belief-suspending micro-worlds for us to play in. It's like the opposite of Halting State. That style is very much in evidence, but it's so bogged down by soapboxing and hystrionics that it's just not any fun to read.

Full disclosure: I gave up on this one 350 out of 450 pages in. This... might be the first time I've ever read that much of a book and quit.

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