|Makers, by Cory Doctorow
||[Oct. 26th, 2010|04:02 pm]
Review copy provided by Tor.
Most of what I've read of Doctorow's stuff in the last few years has been the YA novels, with a side order of short fiction. So Makers was in some ways very similar--of course it had a lot of the things you expect of a Cory Doctorow book--but was tonally very, very different. Very. It starts out feeling just as exuberant about technology, but there's a more mature slant on what that exuberance can bring: that yes, sometimes it brings pure awesome, but sometimes...not as much pure awesome just from the joy of making stuff. This book is not, as I initially feared, a hyperactive love song to People Who Make Stuff. It's got more nuance than that. Making Cool Stuff is generally considered to be a good end in itself, but not a good end that fixes all other things in life. And there's kitsch and fiddling and all that, in abundance--but sometimes the obsession with kitsch and fiddling leads down blind alleys, sometimes it's the problem or blinkers the characters to the source of the problems, and that's good, that's real, that's how really obsessive people actually work. Cool stuff emerges, but so do problems. All part of the same deal.
My worry with this book is that it walks a very fine line between being "of its time" and being dated. I don't know how much that's just the subject matter and how much it's an artifact of having been serialized online in its initial publication--not that everything serialized online would work that way, but for short stories one doesn't have to be as concerned about how they'll weather, because often they won't, and I think serialized work online can have that feel. For example, the metabolic tweak for weight loss gets the slang term "fatkins" even though it has nothing really to do with the Atkins Diet--at the time Makers was being written, Atkins Diet was all over the news, the trendy hot diet thing, and now I'm not hearing about it so much. I'm wondering if it will seem labored and weird to have it called that in another five years and incomprehensible in another ten. Which would be a shame, because the male geek character studies herein are worth having.