Book Review – Makers, by Cory Doctorow

Today’s Music: Simon and Garfunkel – Bookends (See what I did there?)

So I finally finished one of the books I’ve been reading.


Click for the Amazon page. No, I don't get a referral fee.

I enjoyed the hell out of this book.
A Quick Summary
The story takes place in a not-too-distant dystopian future.
The two main characters, Lester and Perry, are able to create fantastical whimsical technological creations out of thin air. They start the “New Work” movement that ends up touching 1 in 5 Americans. They are joined by Susan, the former reporter turned tech blogger, Tjan, the finance guy,and Kettlewell, the CEO type.
Together, they try to make the world into what they want it to be.

The story takes place in several parts.
First, we meet most of the main characters, and they create the New Work movement. Everyone is empowered to create and market their own inventions, using 3D printers to produce. The movement starts in a shantytown in Florida, and burgeons across the country and around the world.
Next, after New Work has faded, Perry and Lester create The Ride. It’s an homage to all the inventions of New Work, and riders vote for what they like or not. 3D printers and robotic worms remake the ride continuously to reflect the votes.
Several other incarnations of the ride spring up in other cities, and are networked together so that changes in one are reflected in the other.
The penultimate part brings our heroes into conflict with a futuristic version of Disney.
The final part brings a solid, satisfying resolution to almost all the storylines.
And of course, there is a very nice epilogue, that wraps up the story but avoids a “happily ever after” finish.

robot worms exist, folks.

Why I Liked It
It’s a tight story. While the trade Paperback edition clocks in at 416 pages, there was not a lot of fat on it. Supporting characters get their time, but are mostly used to illustrate or reinforce the point the story is getting at. In one case, a minor character passes through twice, both times spinning the story and pushing it further forward.
While the story is not hardcore spaceships and lasers sci-fi, it does have a lot of techno-speculation, such as the possible future of 3D printing. And it posits a future of higher unemployment and the outdating of corporations that is not hard to imagine from where we stand today.
The characters have good senses of humor, and stay consistent to themselves throughout the book. Yes, they change, but not so dramatically that it feels like you’re meeting a new person.

Doctorow handles his dialogue well, although the sex scene he wrote was..well…odd. Not freakish or kinky, just odd – more clinical than lustful/romantic/engaging.
He created a cast of characters that I, as a reader, became invested in. I wanted to know how Perry would deal with being pulled away from his inventing to oversee other Rides. I cared about whether Susan would come back from Russia, or if Freddy would get his in the end.
And like a good book should, this one completely transported me into it’s world.

Like I said, I enjoyed it. If you like Philip K. Dick but don’t want to go quite as dark (this one did have a somewhat happy ending), or if you want some sci-fi that doesn’t stretch credibility too much, this might be a good pick for you.

Happy reading!
And let me know what you’re reading in the comments, too.

29 responses to “Book Review – Makers, by Cory Doctorow

  1. I love a good book that manages to transport you into its world – I think that’s the best thumbs-up you can give a book. I’m not reading anything right now, although did recently finish reading “Thunder Dog” – the story of a blind man who worked on the 78th floor of WTC Tower I, and how he navigated climbing down all the stairs to safety on September 11th 2001, being guided by his faithful dog. An amazing story, as well as a fascinating recount of the man’s life in general and all that he had accomplished. And now with the holiday upon me, I’ll be digging out something to read on a flight to San Francisco & back!


    • I’d heard that story, but didn’t know it was a book.
      Let me know what/how the airplane book turns out.

      I’m working my way through one on Quantum Physics right now that is blowing me away every page. Actually inspired my next post – Uncertainty Principle
      Thanks for coming by.


  2. What a cool cover!
    And right now I’m only reading comic books. But they rock!


  3. Hi,
    Sounds like a very interesting read, I love a good book, especially at night, when everything is quite and you can really get into the storyline.


  4. wordsfallfrommyeyes

    Blind seeing dogs are just so lovable, Nicky, they play such an important and essential role in life.

    Hey El Guapo, loved your review. I haven’t even seen this on the shelves, but sounds worth it…. good Chrissie present.


  5. This sounds a little like a book that I read called “Snow Crash,” by Neal Stephenson (?). I enjoyed that one alot. Currently, I’m reading “The Magician King” by Lev Grossman, a sequel to his book “The Magicians”, which was excellent. This one is pretty good so far, too.


    • Snow Crash was a great book. My girl uses Hiro Protaganist as her character name in videogames.
      Snow Crash is a much more severe dystopia than Makers. And much easier on the corporations…
      I also liked the Diamond Age by him, and my girl liked Necronomicon.

      Never read anything by Lev Grossman. I’ll check him out, thanks!


  6. I am a voracious reader – or I was . I would rather read a book than see the movie or watch t.v. Problem is when I get a good one, well forget anything getting done until it is. And the other problem is if I get a bad one, I have to read it through to the end…HAVE to…it MIGHT get better. I am reading Totally Buzzed – or starting it today anyways.
    πŸ™‚ Peace and good reading !!


    • I know what you mean, lizziecracked. Because, you know, it might get better..
      Enjoy Totally Buzzed. Or enjoy being totally buzzed if that’s your thing. Hey, I don’t judge…
      Also, your word is coming in my next post! woohoo!


      • Yay! I forgot to mention that I like the choice of music – I don’t mind being totally buzzed, getting too old I think and I am already kinda mixed up as it is but it is a Comic Mystery, or mystery comedy – yeah I;; let you know. πŸ™‚

        um – the book is just in case I might have lost you. :-/


  7. If this book is as good as your review, then I can’t wait to check out more. Very well done


  8. Very much enjoy your description.Must read!
    Did I miss anything or is this Doctrow related to another favorite author of mine, E.L. Doctrow?
    ‘Not a lot of fat; on the book is a plus. Have always gone with the Fante and Bukowski thoughts of the ‘fine line’ of writing. Why use 100 words as descriptive when 25 will do.
    It’s a bitch to follow as a writer but makes so much sense.
    Many thanks for the review!


  9. Doctorow implied sex between a mountain and a washing machine in one of his books. At least it was two humans this time. Right? I just found out he had a book out recently. I also read another book by Ernest Cline called Ready Player One where Cory Doctorow had been elected president of the virtual world for the umpteenth time in a row (it is set in 2044).


    • Yes, it was humans. This is my first exposure to Doctorow (besides hearing about him).
      A cursory search says Doctorow is an activist, as well as a Scholar in Virtual Residence at a university in Ontario.
      Oh, and Wikipedia also says he coined the word “Metacrap”, so there’s that too…

      How was Ready Player One? Worth reading?


  10. Thank you for the heads up. I love dystopia and I’m always on the look out for a good one. This one sounds really good! I’ll have to ask Santa for it!

    Have you ever read This Perfect Day by Ira Levin? It was written in 1970, I think, but it’s one of my favorite dystopias character-wise altho the ending is a little weak, still definitely worth reading.

    Right now I’m reading W C Fields and Me. It was also a movie starring Rod Steiger and Valerie Perrine. It’s excellent. If your not a fan of W.C. Fields, you will become one.

    I noticed that both of the books I recommended are out of print. Sometimes I get the feeling I’m a little behind the times! πŸ™‚


    • Perfect Day added to the list. I should be able to dig it up on ebay.

      I was never a WC fan, but I love Rod Steiger – In The Heat of the Night is one of my favorite movies.

      And you’re not behind hte times – you’re “Immersed In The Classics”!


  11. Linda and El Guapo, you both have refined taste. Have read WC Fields and Me.
    DIG silents and the classic comedies of the 20’s,30’s and 40’s. so, also love anything revolving around the stars of that era; fiction or fact.
    As for Ira Levin? Oh dear god how Rosemary’s Baby scared the s**t outta me when I read it. Of course I was 12 at the time.. wicked step-mother tried to take it away but mom stepped in and as a result became a Levin fan. Have to find Perfect Day.
    Many thanks for the recommendations and thoughts of re-reading books I’ve laid aside for too long.


  12. I’m rereading Lolita for like, the 500th time. Not sure why.


    • Lolita was given to me by an ex. Not sure what she was trying to say.
      But she also gave me Love in the Time of Cholera, which was an incredible book, and turned me on to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who I have yet to read something bad by…
      And hey, shouldn’t you be writing stuff for us to read?


      • Marquez makes what I write sound like a cheap Hallmark card. I think I need to get back to work and step up my game.


        • Ha. Don’t sell your self short, senorita. GoA 1 rocked.
          And as an avid reader of fiction/non/pulp/literature/cereal boxes/science, your game is as good as anyone out there.
          Ah, it’s the holidays. I guess you’ve earned a break…

          Unless you’re talking about the card that had a muffin on a roller skate on the cover. Inside, it said “I’m on a roll. Butter me.”
          Cause that was a great card.


          • That was a great card. Almost as good as the one sympathy card with a cover of children playing in the sand that when you opened it said, “Life is a beach.”
            No wait…that one sucked. Never mind.


Ahem *best Ricky Ricardo voice* Babble-OOOoooo!!!

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