I did a really fun interview on Makers and the writing process for the Bazooka Joe podcast, which has many other interesting writers in this latest instalment (Annalee Newitz, JC Hutchins and Steve Eley).
Makers took me places I’d never been and would not have thought of visiting, and I had a wonderful time there. It introduced me to some really interesting strangers and involved me in their remarkable lives. It painted a persuasive picture of a better tomorrow I’ve been having more and more trouble imagining lately. And it was a lot of fun. It gives me renewed hope for the future, of both written science fiction and the world.
Speaking as a dude who’s into tech and yet cannot code and has average mortal math skills, and who as a result has never made anything in his life except letters on a screen, I have a deeply romantic love of engineers and hackers. I have never seen that love expressed so purely and burningly as Doctorow does in Makers. And incredibly, Doctorow actually works out his creations’ creations and lets you watch Perry and Lester hack them together before your eyes.
Lev Grossman, Techland
Makers is a book for the lovers of technology, for the gleeful optimists more than the cynics. It’s for the people who love the kooky engineering projects you see on Boing Boing, for the people who believe that, as the poster says, “The future belongs to the few of us still willing to get our hands dirty.” It’s for the people who can’t wait to own a 3D printer, and who believe that while technology has its missteps, it’s going to change our lives in wonderful and unexpected ways. It’s for the people who hate Disney’s corporate tactics, but still get a thrill at the idea of visiting the Magic Kingdom; for the people who believe that, even if they can’t change the world, they can at least improve their little corner of it. It’s for the people who think that, while the future may not be all jetpacks and hover cars and all the world’s people people singing Kumbaya, we as individuals have the power to make it awesome in its own right.
The audiobook of my latest novel, Makers has been published by Random House Audio, strictly in DRM-free formats over the net (this means that Apple won’t carry it in the iTunes store, even though Audible was willing to carry it without DRM).
The reading is by Bernadette Dunne, a very talented actor. I just listened to this for the first time yesterday and I was blown away by Dunne’s reading. I’m a huge audiobook nut, and I’m incredibly glad to have professional audiobook adaptations of my books from Random House — and doubly grateful to them for supporting my commitment to DRM-free distribution. When you buy this book, you own it. The “terms of service” are “Don’t violate copyright law,” not “By buying this audiobook, you agree that we get to come over and kick you in the ass.”
Technology lets low-cost providers take market share away from established companies, as Detroit auto makers and Paris fashion house designers have seen. Even high-tech companies have a hard time building sustainable businesses now that good ideas are copied so quickly that they become commodities.
In a time of great change, fiction can sometimes provide better understanding than facts alone. “As the pace of technological change accelerates, the job of the science fiction writer becomes not harder, but easier—and more necessary,” he writes. “After all, the more confused we are by our contemporary technology, the more opportunities there are to tell stories that lessen that confusion.”
Here’s the audio from my reading last week at the Harvard Bookstore, along with Q&A.
This weekend, I’ll be wrapping up my US/Canada tour for Makers, my new novel, with a weekend at Philcon, near Philadelphia. I’ll be signing books, doing a reading, giving a speech, and appearing on several panels. Hope to see you there!
Important note: I had previously announced a couple of readings tomorrow at the Philadelphia Free Library. It turns out that these are not open to the public (they’re for school groups, which no one told me until last night). Sorry about this, folks.
Philcon: Nov 20-22
The Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cherry Hill, NJ
Nice piece in today’s National Post about Makers and my approach to publishing:
Presently, Doctorow is in the midst of a short North American book tour promoting Makers, which, like all his work, is free to download from his website, craphound.com,under a Creative Commons licence, which allows readers to share and remix the work as long as it’s not for commercial purposes. Interestingly, Doctorow doesn’t accept payment from readers who’ve downloaded his book. Instead, he posts the addresses of libraries and schools who have requested the book and asks donors to buy them a copy instead. It’s his commitment and encouragement of sharing that makes Doctorow a thorn in the side of some in the publishing industry (though it should be noted his own publisher, Tor, is part of Macmillan, which in turn is a subsidiary of the massive German conglomerate Holtzbrinck). He wants his books to be read, he wants his books to be passed around and he wants his books to be copied.
“I copy, you copy, everybody copies. Pretending we don’t copy is just hypocrisy,” says Doctorow, whose own early attempts at sci-fiwere pastiches of Conan the Barbarian stories and Star Wars fan fiction. “It’s the 21st century: Art will be copied. If you’re making art not to be copied, you’re not making contemporary art. It’s lovely that someone wants to be the blacksmith at Pioneer Village, but that’s not my job. I’ma science-fiction writer.”
Hey, New Yorkers! I’m reading from and signing my new novel Makers tonight at the Borders in Columbus Circle at 59th Street, starting at 7PM. Hope to catch you there! Philadelphians, you’re next — Philadelphia Free Library on Friday, then Philcon (in Cherry Hill, NJ) over the weekend.