I found this book one of the most compelling I have ever read by Cory Doctorow. One that really excited me in the beginning, kind of horrified me in the middle and offered only bittersweet resolution at the end. The overwhelming feel is of transience. Nothing lasts very long, and certainly not as long as you feel it should.
The story follows Perry Gibbons and Lester Banks, a pair of artists and generally creative types, through the rise and fall of micro-entrepeneurship funded on the collapse of big old corporations. With the help of 3D printers and networks of other small businesses, they make some cool stuff, set the world on fire with a new way of doing business and manufacturing, but like the soft plastic goop on which their printers run, it all starts wearing out too soon. Nobody really knows what they should be doing, long-term, and none of it really works out anyway. Businesses are created and abandoned before anyone knows what to do with them, and even interpersonal relationships are made of fragile stuff. At least the villain gets his just deserts, but the conclusion is just part of the wearing down.
It felt a little depressing, I suppose, but also relatable. I got excited about new things and new technological possibilities, but in the end I know it all winds down and wears out, even if you don't want it to. An individual's character remains firm at the core, and relationships built on that core can last, but everything else - the type of work we do, the way we do it and our friends and colleagues - are all built on the shifting sands of time. That said, I could hardly put the book down, and I definitely recommend it. Just don't go in expecting happiness, rainbows and unicorns all the way through.
Mokalus of Borg
PS - Makers on Amazon.
PPS - Makers on Doctorow's site including free ebook version.