“Makers” by Cory Doctorow

I loved Little Brother, and Doctorow’s essays on DRM and other digital rights issues are spot-on, most of the time. I reccomend his work to lots of people, every time I meet them, because it’s informative and wonderful and free!

And yet…

I downloaded his most recent novel, Makers, for a trip I took for archaeology and family business. Stuck it on my phone, which delivered one paragraph per page view. I had spent a while looking forward to reading it, had been saving it for quite some time.

Now there are issues I’ve had with Doctorow’s prose from day one. Issues that involve immersion, and sometimes the over-insertion of factoids and gadgets (often to the point where his novels feel more like a visit to Boing Boing than a narrative). But the one, huge turn-off for me was Disneyland. World. The world of theme-parks, and in particular, innovation and free speech versus the Imagineers.

I was quite happy to wince past some painful scenes with the characters, and I survived the flat and emotionless descriptions of most relationships in the book. I even sighed only once over the way that sex was oddly written, and references to sexual relationships were oddly unbalanced for a novel with several focal protagonists.

But I’m a little scared that Doctorow is going to return to Disney, theme-parks, and similar themes every few novels. He’s either entranced with it, has some strange fetish for messing with the mouse, or he’s learnt that the Magic Hacked Kingdom sells more. I read the whole thing, and enjoyed it, but nowhere near as much as other novels of his that I’ve read.

With both Makers and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, I found the books became exhaustive in their trivia, and exhausting. I’m not an American, and I don’t care about theme parks. Perhaps that’s what has spoilt the book for me, a lack of immersion in a culture that does. I’ll still read everything this man writes, and I reccomend you all do, but I certainly won’t be as excited about his next book as I will about re-reading Foucalt’s Pendulum in a few weeks.


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