Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Makers Makers
by Cory Doctorow
Harper Voyager

Supplied for review by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

Makers is Cory Doctorow’s fifth novel, but the first novel-length work of his that I have read, I have previously read him at novella length and shorter in various Year’s Best collections and was favourably impressed, so I was keen to see how he handled fiction’s long form.

Makers is set in the not too distant future of now plus five, ten or fifteen years (no dates are mentioned) and, with the aid of a about ten characters, extrapolates current economic and manufacturing technology trends into a vision of that future that is neither utopic nor dystopic, just a little unexpected. The ideas he works with: three dimensional photocopying, distributed feedback loops, and endocrine solutions to obesity are available now or on the cusp of availability – he simply shows the potential for their implementation.

Unfortunately, for large patches of Makers I felt I was reading an economics treatise for the science fiction herd – those who have heard the terminology of business economics and financing, but know none of the implication and what this means in practice –with the novel’s characters acting as cyphers for explaining economic theory to practice. The slipping into soapbox mode, plus the absence of formal chapters breaks (it was a book in three parts) meant that I found it difficult to pick the book up again after I put it down for the day. But when I was reading it I wanted to know how that part would unfold so was loathe to put the book down again.

Did the book work well as a novel? I suppose so. I was reasonably happy with the storyline, and how the characters developed and interacted, with these being distinct characters not variations on a theme; I was even comfortable with the ending. I could have done without the less-than-subtle info-dumps of economics and sociology as these distracted significantly from the story as a story.

In summary, a better than average (not brilliant, but not bad either) novel about market economics with the bonus that it’s science fiction. Worth the time to read? Yes.

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