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Today is the launch of my new novel, Makers, a book about people who hack hardware, business-models, and living arrangements to discover ways of staying alive and happy even when the economy is falling down the toilet. Weirdly, I wrote it years before the current econopocalypse, as a parable about the amazing blossoming of creativity and energy that I saw in Silicon Valley after the dotcom crash, after all the money dried up. As with all my previous novels, the whole book is available as a free, Creative Commons download, under a NonCommercial-ShareAlike license that allows you to remix it to your heart's content and share the book and your mixes noncommercially. And as with my last two books, I've created a unique donations program that connects generous people with schools, universities, libraries, shelters, prisons and other cash-strapped institutions.
Here's how it works: this page has instructions for profs, librarians and similar worthies to list themselves as potential recipients for Makers (please pass this URL around to people who might want a copy!). If you've read the electronic text of Makers and want to reimburse me, but don't want a copy of the print book for yourself, you can buy a copy for the institution of your choice. Everybody wins: you get to settle your karma while supporting your favorite bookseller, a library or university gets a copy of the book without having to divert its budget, my publisher gets the sale and I get the royalty and the sales-figure. I've facilitated the donation of hundreds of books this way, and it works great.
In this tour de force, Doctorow (Little Brother) uses the contradictions of two overused SF themes--the decline and fall of America and the boundless optimism of open source/hacker culture--to draw one of the most brilliant reimaginings of the near future since cyberpunk wore out its mirror shades. Perry Gibbons and Lester Banks, typical brilliant geeks in a garage, are trash-hackers who find inspiration in the growing pile of technical junk. Attracting the attention of suits and smart reporter Suzanne Church, the duo soon get involved with cheap and easy 3D printing, a cure for obesity and crowd-sourced theme parks. The result is bitingly realistic and miraculously avoids cliché or predictability. While dates and details occasionally contradict one another, Doctorow's combination of business strategy, brilliant product ideas and laugh-out-loud moments of insight will keep readers powering through this quick-moving tale.