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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meet thy Makers
Down in Florida, Lester and Perry are a couple of platinum rated inventive nerds who make things, sometimes using a 3D printer. Not just any old things. Things that sell for upwards of $10,000 each. Now, their talents have been sucked up by the Kodacell conglomerate (you work it out) to construct weird and wonderful stuff. After the dot com bust, the idea is to have...
Published on 24 Sep 2009 by Quiverbow

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wanted it to be good. Great even; it was weakly OK
My son gave me this for Christmas. It's a novel set in the near future, focussing mostly on the possible counter-corporate implications of hacking things up with 3D printers (these are the new and rather cool devices that allow you top print 3D objects), along with many other things such as a putative and backfiring solution to obesity in the US, and US squatter camps...
Published on 29 Dec 2009 by Greg Pye


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wanted it to be good. Great even; it was weakly OK, 29 Dec 2009
By 
Greg Pye (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Makers (Hardcover)
My son gave me this for Christmas. It's a novel set in the near future, focussing mostly on the possible counter-corporate implications of hacking things up with 3D printers (these are the new and rather cool devices that allow you top print 3D objects), along with many other things such as a putative and backfiring solution to obesity in the US, and US squatter camps. Long a staple of sci-fi, replicators that can make anything you need to order are very cool, the dislocations they might bring are large, and I've not read much fiction about them - so I was looking forward to the book, and willing it to be good. I kept willing it to be good all the way through, but in the end it simply wasn't. Worth reading if you have a pretty high appetite for books, but if you only read a one or two books a month then there are far better ones to have on your list.

That's not to say that there weren't good bits. I loved the way the Disney replicators were described, with little mechanical imps doing the assembly - just like you might find in a Terry Pratchett book, and every bit as cool. I liked snatches of the characterizations where people came to grip with what being a leader meant. I loved that he waded into the way that Disney was viewed, and seems to have got himself comfortable with the legal exposure.

But, there the flow of the story was very staccato - with some parts glossed over wildly, and yet still managing to be rather too long. The end especially managed to dystopically peter out - almost like Cory ran out of ideas on plot and simply tried to tie the loose threads off somehow, but guarding against a happy ending. The thinking about how the economics and business side would work felt weak - I cannot imagine anyone not realising that large-scale copyright infringement was likely to be a legal issue for example. The obesity sub-plot just awkwardly got in the way. But, least forgiveable for me was the general lack of depth and development in the characters. It was obvious that this was thought about, but it seemed to be done in rough lumps. like a sculptors first mock-up of a statue. As an example of one of the better ones, the arch corporate villain sort of had a change of heart, but was forgiven by others for deeds that it had previously been clear they would never stand. I would almost have preferred that the characters were properly one dimensional rather than the occasional snatches that made you hope - the gulf from this to the Alexandria Quartet that I read a few months ago was stark.

Summing up, it felt like a book that could have been great, from an author with imagination in spades ... but a book that needed a lot more polishing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meet thy Makers, 24 Sep 2009
By 
Quiverbow (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Makers (Hardcover)
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Down in Florida, Lester and Perry are a couple of platinum rated inventive nerds who make things, sometimes using a 3D printer. Not just any old things. Things that sell for upwards of $10,000 each. Now, their talents have been sucked up by the Kodacell conglomerate (you work it out) to construct weird and wonderful stuff. After the dot com bust, the idea is to have thousands of small co-operatives churning out product for a high return; when others copy the idea and those margins decrease, they move onto the next thing. The scheme sounds workable even in the real world. Unfortunately, when others begin to manufacture their own 3D printers from a 3D printer, everyone ends up trying to sell to everyone else so it all collapses. A bit like pyramid selling.

Some years later, all the individuals meet up once more with the two original nerds now fronting a rollercoaster ride with a nostalgic theme, which has the public queuing round the block. Thing is, they've allowed anyone to copy and build their own version free and that pesky theme park up the road, the one fronted by a mouse, takes exception. Can the little entrepreneur beat a giant international corporation? Most of the characters exude empathy, except one nasty, rat-faced journalist who you want to strangle, and a smarmy executive who you wish would get what he deserves. That is the essence of a good writer.

Some of the inventions Doctorow has thought up could eventually come to fruition; the laser key ring that repeats what you say when shone onto a wall and translates any one of a dozen languages sounds cool, as does the toaster-making robot. In a world of disposable consumerism, something that is used repeatedly would certainly have its market. The worm robots that redesign kids' playground overnight makes for curious if fanciful reading, but that nostalgic theme park ride may get people thinking. It can be done; all it needs to produce something technologically useful is for those with the ability to get together, they just haven't done so yet. They have within the pages of this book.

Makers is an interesting and different read but the main problem to overcome is the use of everything American. Those here in the UK may not understand many of the terms and phrases and struggle to imagine the environs the author is describing - the tech speak also makes your eyes glaze over on occasions. Overall, the flitting between scenes ensures the reader wants to carry on finding out what happens.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a slog, 12 Dec 2009
By 
Karura (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Makers (Hardcover)
In the not-too-distant future, conventional economics is no longer enough to keep big companies afloat. With that in mind, the newly formed Kodacell (Kodak+Duracell) decides that its best bet is to invest in individuals with vision- quirky inventors like Perry and Lester, who use the technology in discarded junk to come up with weird and wonderful creations. But can such a bold new model really turn a profit?

Although it lost steam towards the end, overall I was left with a good impression from Doctorow's earlier novel Little Brother, and so I decided to give him a chance to up his game in this second work. Unfortunately, this book proved to be a slog from start to finish, leaving me quite relieved when it was all over and I didn't have to read it anymore.

Lacking the flair of his previous novel, Makers proves to be something of a drag. The characters aren't particularly memorable or likable, and a lot of the time it seems as if their efforts amount to nothing- either they fail miserably, or they succeed and move onto the next thing. Doctorow's writing seems to be aimed at impressing the reader with technobabble, but it gives it a dry, clinical edge that lacks true depth and heart. A lot of time is spent on technical details at the expense of larger potholes, whilst incongruous sections such as a surprisingly detailed sex scene only add the jarring, disorientating feel of reading this novel.

Overall, I really can't remember this book- it drags on for far too long without really giving the reader any reason to continue other than the relief of being able to put it aside once and for all. Doctorow showed promise with Little Brother, but this has put me off reading any of his future novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas, poorly written, 6 Aug 2011
By 
S. King "the-eggking" (Greater London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Makers (Hardcover)
It's full of interesting ideas and opinions but reads at a teenage level. I didn't care about any of the characters as they were all so stereotypical that they were unbelievable. I also found its length unjustifiable and had to force myself through to the end.

Like I say, it has some ideas in it that make you stop reading and think about the impact these developments could have but I found thinking about them more gripping than reading about them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original but did not inspire me sadly, 20 May 2010
This review is from: Makers (Hardcover)
I won't dwell on the story as that is summarised well enough in the description above. This is a book full of interesting ideas but in my opinion there was not enough of a narrative to hold it together.

The main characters are not particularly engaging. Lester is the closest to a sympathetic character and I thought the fatkins storyline was most interesting. Disney-in-a-box and "The Ride" sounded very dull though so I really couldn't buy into these guys as innovators and pioneers. Suzanne spends her entire time blogging and not much else so quite why all the group have crushes on her is a bit of a mystery. The idea that "tweeting" is the future already feels out of date. It also feels a bit self-satisfied in that you just know the gang will get one over on the corporate bad guys and the cartoon creep journo "Rat Tooth Freddy".

That said there were plenty of interesting bits and I enjoyed the Dr Seuss style shanty town in particular. It is pretty original so recommended as something a bit different.

EDIT 19/04/2013: I have just added another star to this review as everything in the book is now actually happening rather than far fetched! 3d printing - check! Twitter taking over the world - check! I still didn't warm to the characters, but if you want to find out what tomorrow looks like this may be a good place to start.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like this, but, 30 April 2010
This review is from: Makers (Hardcover)
Cory Doctorow is a difficult one for me. I always really want to like his fiction, so I keep trying it out (thus far, my favourite book of his has been Eastern Standard Tribe).

I think what it may be, more than anything else is his writing style; I hesitate to call it actually *bad* but, well, I don't enjoy it.

The characters are almost entirely unlikeable - this isn't actually a fault in itself (Market Forces (Gollancz S.F.), for example has a cast of unlikeable characters, but is a superior book). What I find objectionable is that they are either paper thin and forgettable, or crude stereotypes (slightly manky British journo with bad teeth? Come on!)

There are some truly awful bits of prose scattered through the novel. For example, there's an excruciating sex-scene.

What's good about the novel - its fairly believeable extrapolations of currently available technologies - are also, for me anyway, a weakness. There's firstly, quite a lot of info-dumping (which would be fine were the pacing of the novel better) and secondly it still didn't quite ring true for me (others may feel differently). New Work, I'm sorry to say, kept reminding me of the underpants elves in South Park in the way that people suddenly made a success of this stuff.

I did read a comment, elsewhere, to the effect that Doctorow had re-written Atlas Shrugged (Penguin Modern Classics) for nerds (in the sense that they were kicking against parasites and bullies, i.e the middle-men). I don't think that's entirely fair on him (as I have no truck with Ayn Rand's view on life and I don't get that from Doctorow - plus, was there ever anyone that read Atlas Shrugged and said "oh no! I'm a parasite!" I digress), but I did find his tone a little hectoring in places (much like some of his other work, there is a great deal of proselytising which, even where I agree with him, I can find a little wearing).

It's a shame, really, as there are, undoubtedly, some good ideas in this and as readers of BoingBoing will be well aware, he seems like a thoroughly decent chap.

It's not a total washout - I'm sure that there are people that find this enjoyable, other reviews here have covered some of the other aspects of the novel, which I think are interesting; I've just tried to indicate what didn't work for me personally.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In 50 words?, 11 Feb 2010
This review is from: Makers (Hardcover)
A vehicle for Doctorow's ideas about the near future rather than suffering from an excess of narrative plot. Many of them are interesting enough, though the book is perhaps guilty of techno and free-market utopianism. Think a cross between Kim Stanley Robinson and Douglas Coupland.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Geeks rule the world and get the girl, 30 Oct 2009
This review is from: Makers (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Meh.

A bundle of interesting ideas woven into a generally naive and unsatisfactory storyline. Basically, small teams of entrepreneurial techies build all manner of tat from recycled technology in an era of "New work".

It's all just a tad unrealistic, with the main group, Lester and Perry, seemingly able to churn out money making
ideas one after the after with seemingly minimal effort and virtually no input from anyone else, other than an
assigned business consultant.

As an aside, I found myself annoyed (unreasonably, perhaps) that a North American (I know, he's Canadian) should portray the bad guy to be a Brit with bad teeth! How stereotypically unoriginal. Actually, now I think about it there's a lot of that; America is the leading light of the new world, Russia is populated entirely of gangsters, China is swept under the carpet (maybe if we ignore them, they'll go away) etc...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 22 Oct 2009
This review is from: Makers (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This was really enjoyable. I like this author's work generally and science fiction generally but I think this book would appeal to a wider audience than just those who check out what's on the scifi channel on a Saturday night. It really is fascinating and very cleverly imagined world and inventions by the two leads - Perry and Lester - before as they say, it all starts to go wrong. Read it, you won't be disappointed even if scifi isn't your usual bag. The book is also being serialised somewhere online at the moment (I forget where) so you can always check out a few chapters first for free.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but a litte bit overweight, 15 Oct 2009
By 
Mark H (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Makers (Hardcover)
I really quite enjoyed 'Little Brother' by Doctorow so I was hoping for more of the same. Another contemporary and insightful novel was the expectation and it did deliver that but it is in a different mould than his previous book.

The novel deals with interesting subjects for the modern age. Who really makes anything anymore? Do you have control over the things you own? What is technology really good for? The questions are good but sadly the novel lacks the pace and dynamism that made 'Little Brother' a genuine stand out. It certainly deals with as important a set of issues as the previous novel but I guess it is harder to make the subject matter of industry, court cases and economics as thrilling as terrorism and underground rebellion. This was never more evident in a very slow start and a bit more editing down and cutting away of some excess would probably help move the story along a bit quicker. What definitely shouldn't be played with is the epilogue. Very well written and quite moving, proving that Doctorow is more than just a techno-guru who has his finger on the pulse. He can write a lick as well!

In short, I enjoyed the novel. It is refreshing to read novels that deal with the really important issues of our times. If you can persevere with the start then you will be treated to an insightful and enjoyable walk through a worryingly convincing view of the near-future. And above all it is worth getting into just to enjoy the last 20 pages.
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Makers
Makers by Cory Doctorow (Hardcover - 29 Oct 2009)
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