Doctorow is also a master of one-upping himself, which should come as no surprise given his interest in the Singularity. In ‘Makers’ he manages to keep the readers’ jaws dropped, as one mind-boggling scheme is supplanted by another, each new plan in equal parts wacky, intelligent, and plausible. He uses creativity and invention as plot points, thus keeping our minds and hearts in sync as we race through the novel. And this is by far his most substantial work, topping out at just over 400 pages. This time around Doctorow gives readers time to really get immersed in his world, which is to say, our world as seen through his economic kaleidoscope.
But for all the science-fiction-of-economics inventiveness, for all the delightful plot shenanigans Doctorow cooks up, by far his best asset is to my mind his directness, a trait he shares with Lethem. Doctorow never beats around the bush. Everything he says, everything every character does is somehow more right there on the page than we’re usually accustomed to seeing. Doctorow’s art is to a degree his ability to strip out all the art. He’s got great ideas and makes no attempt to hide them or lead up to them. They just spill right out of his characters’ mouths. Even though we’re reading a sort-of science fiction novel, the real appeal of ‘Makers’ is that Doctorow just spills out one truth after another. It’s refreshingly fun to read a novel where everything you need is right there on the printed page — even if you didn’t print it yourself.