Mon
Jul 27 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 10 (of 81)

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Tjan met her as she was finishing her coffee in the breakfast room. She hadn’t seen Freddy yet.

“I’ve got five projects slated for you to visit today,” Tjan said, sliding into the booth beside her. Funnily now that he was in the cold northeast, he was dressing like a Floridian in blue jeans and a Hawai’ian barkcloth shirt with a bright spatter of pineapples and Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles. Back in Florida, he’d favored unflattering nylon slacks and white shirts with ironed collars.

The projects were fascinating and familiar. The cultural differences that distinguished New England New Work from Florida New Work were small but telling: a lot more woodcraft, in a part of the country where many people had grown up in their grandfathers’ woodworking shops. A little more unreflexive kitsch, like the homely kittens and puppies that marched around the reactive, waterproof, smash-proof screens integrated into a bio-monitoring crib.

At the fourth site, she was ambushed by a flying hug. Tjan laughed as she nearly went down under the weight of a strong, young woman who flung her arms around Suzanne’s neck. “Holy crap it’s good to see you!”

Suzanne untangled herself and got a look at her hugger. She had short mousy hair, twinkling blue eyes, and was dressed in overalls and a pretty flowered blouse, scuffed work boots and stained and torn work-gloves. “Uh...” she said, then it clicked. “Fiona?”

“Yeah! Didn’t Tjan tell you I was here?” The last time she’d seen this woman, she was weeping over pizza and getting ready to give up on life. Now she was practically vibrating.

“Uh, no,” she said, shooting a look at Tjan, who was smiling like the Buddha and pretending to inspect a pair of shoes with gyroscopically stabilized retractable wheels in the heels.

“I’ve been here for months! I went back to Oregon, like you told me to, and then I saw a recruiting ad for Westinghouse and I sent them my CV and then I got a videoconference interview and then, bam, I was on an airplane to Rhode Island!”

Suzanne blinked. I told you to go back to Oregon? Well, maybe she had. That was a lifetime ago.

The workshop was another dead mall, this one a horseshoe of storefronts separated by flimsy gyprock. The Westinghousers had cut through the walls with drywall knives to join all the stores together. The air was permeated with the familiar Saran-Wrap-in-a-microwave tang of 3D printers. The parking lot was given over to some larger apparatus and a fantastical children’s jungle-gym in the shape of a baroque, spired pirate fortress, with elegantly curved turrets, corkscrew sky-bridges, and flying buttresses crusted over with ornate, grotesque gargoyles. Children swarmed over it like ants, screeching with pleasure.

“Well, you’re looking really good, Fiona,” Suzanne said. Still not great with people, she thought. Fiona, though, was indeed looking good, and beaming. She wasn’t wearing the crust of cosmetics and hair-care products she’d affected in the corporate Silicon Valley world. She glowed pink.

“Suzanne,” Fiona said, getting serious now, taking her by the shoulders and looking into her eyes. “I can’t thank you enough for this. This has saved my life. It gave me something to live for. For the first time in my life, I am doing something I’m proud of. I go to bed every night thankful and happy that I ended up here. Thank you, Suzanne. Thank you.”

Suzanne tried not to squirm. Fiona gave her another long hug. “It’s all your doing,” Suzanne said at last. “I just told you about it. You’ve made this happen for you, OK?”

“OK,” Fiona said, “but I still wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. I love you, Suzanne.”

Ick. Suzanne gave her another perfunctory hug and got the hell out of Dodge.

<<< Back to Part 9

Continue to Part 11>>>

* * *

As part of the ongoing project of crafting Tor.com’s electronic edition of Makers, the author would like for readers to chime in with their favorite booksellers and stories about them in the comments sections for each piece of Makers, for consideration as a possible addition to a future edition of the novel.


Doctorow’s Makers will be released in print by Tor Books in October. You can read all previous installments of Makers on Tor.com on our index page.

16 comments
herocious
1. herocious
Way to juggle characters and keep pace. Itching for Part 11.

As for my favorite bookseller, that would have to be Blue Hill Books in Maine. It was in their bathroom that I found a link to a website that has started me writing again, a serial of my own:

The Compact - Ch 1
Mary Harwood
2. stanthedevil
I am definitely enjoying this! If I had the entire book in front of me, I'm pretty sure I would have finished it in one sitting.

I wanted to chime in for Schuler Books and Music. This fantastic bookstore started as a single location that I started visiting shortly after they opened in 1982. Still family owned, they now have 5 locations in Michigan.

When I was a child, they had (and still have) a reading club for kids that rewarded a certain number of books/pages with a Gift Certificate. I still remember the first book that I bought with that precious $5 -- Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods. The cheerful middle-aged man working the children's section recommended that first book. By the end of the summer, I had the whole series. Those books still have a place of honor on my bookshelves. I started building my library with Schuler Books and continue to build it today whenever I have spare change for a book.

They opt to stock just a couple of copies of each book to maximize the variety of titles. And each location is staffed with friendly book lovers who know the stock and are happy to point you in the right direction or recommend a new title.

Another reason I love them is that they are great supporters of local authors and musicians by featuring books and CDs as well as providing opportunities for those artists to give readings and performances.
Jon Dowland
3. jmtd
I'm really enjoying these but I'm going to have to start queuing them up. This one didn't last until my train arrived on the way home, let alone the journey!
herocious
4. Crazyhaze
Ugh I have to type this all over again. GG web browser. My favorite Bookstore is in Ellensburg, WA. Sadly I don't know the name of it but its very apparent if you drive through the main road. It is near an old vinyl record store. I love the bookstores that are all used books. You get the smell of writings that were once found but now waiting to be rediscovered. If you ever look hard enough you can always find a good gem.

The closest in my area to this would be Half-Priced Books in Overlake, WA. However I always prefer the non corporate used bookstores. Nothing against big business, but more that you find better books in the lesser known dives.
herocious
5. Russe11D
Great story so far and a good follow-up from the mindset of a teen boy (in Litte Brother) to a middle-aged woman in Makers.

I wonder, Cory, if it was intentional that when you brought the story to (my little home state of) Rhode Island, that the chapters started getting shorter?

As for a bookstore to add to your published collection, there are none. There are no bookstores in New England. Not much call for reading in these parts. I heard there used to be a bookstore up in Boston, but I think they turned it into a coffeehouse, whatever THAT is.
herocious
6. Russe11D
Great story so far and a good follow-up from the mindset of a teen boy (in Litte Brother) to a middle-aged woman in Makers.

I wonder, Cory, if it was intentional that when you brought the story to (my little home state of) Rhode Island, that the chapters started getting shorter?

As for a bookstore to add to your published collection, there are none. There are no bookstores in New England. Not much call for reading in these parts. I heard there used to be a bookstore up in Boston, but I think they turned it into a coffeehouse, whatever THAT is.
Alejandro Melchor
7. Al-X
I'm kind of liking this shift to short-burst postings and the way they have accelerated the pace of the narrative but still keeping it easy to keep up with.

As for bookstore, I landed a part-time job when I was in high school at a little bookstore called "Glandorf y Duende" (NOTE: I be from México :) ). It was the first bookstore in my little city not to cater exclusively school textbooks and best-sellers, but all kinds of book, and even had a full case for sci-fi/fantasy/horror. It was run by a married couple, an ex-priest and an ex-nun, both Jesuits and incredibly interesting people. They didn't want to hire me when I asked, until one day I bought a book on medieval sociopolitical geography for research on a story I was writing, boggling the owner's mind that a high-schooler would not only read, but BUY such a book. I was hired the next week :)
Chad Childers
8. chadnibal
I think it was a bad decision for us to invite Doctorow to be an additional guest-of-honor at the 35th annual ConFusion SF convention this January... he seems to be saying nothing but bad things about Detroit ever since then - they aren't even creative, perceptive bad things, they're just cheap shots. Lazy of him, especially after we went out of our way to make sure he had a good time, paid for his airfare and his hotel room, and gave him a free membership in the con. His writing style is good, but his pomposity is getting to me, I'm not sure I want to read any more of this.

When I was at ConFusion, I talked with an ex-Ford friend who recently started a new company here making electric scooters. They're at www.evmfg.com - very cool stuff, why couldn't he talk about something like that?

You're right (in reply to Sara Thustra's earlier comment), John King's is quite an experience. expensive, but I've bought some fascinating things there (like Henry Ford's personal newspaper, the old Dearborn Independent, with an HG Wells interview!) There's also Kathy Rodegher's Used Books, on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, which isn't big, but is an independent that has been around for about ten years.
Jon Dowland
9. jmtd
@chadnibal: everything written here so far has already been written at salon as "Themepunks" in September 2005, so when you invited Cory in January those words were already 3 and a half years old, and not in response to the visit.
herocious
10. Dr. Jones
@chad
Does everyone in Michigan whine as much as you?
And you wonder why people have a negative impression of your shithole of a city.
herocious
11. red green
@Dr. Jones
Does everyone from wherever-the-hell-you're-from spew venom as much as you? And you wonder why people have a negative impression of pompous jerks with Dr. in front of their name.
Torie Atkinson
12. Torie
@ 8 , @ 10 , @ 11

Cool off, folks. No personal attacks. These threads aren't for attacking Doctorow himself and they're certainly not for attacking one another. Stick to Makers.
Arcadia Barrile
13. UndeadJaxxy
Gosh, what happened to just being grateful for the free and interesting read?

If you don't like it, don't read it; if you do read it, just be thankful to Mr. Doctorow for posting it.
herocious
14. Frank P.
If you're ever in Hoboken NJ, I recommend checking out Symposia.
herocious
15. tfwade99
Love this book. Read it online and then bought hardbound copy to read again. Keep it up.
Chad Childers
16. chadnibal
Torie, Jaxxy, you're right, I do appreciate the free reading and the whole Copyleft and Creative Commons thing. I'll probably go back and finish Makers sometime soon.

Just heard they're opening a TechShop with 3D printers and other rapid protoyping gear, reminded me a lot of this story, announced at MakerFaire Detroit last weekend.

I hadn't realized it was written in 2005... pretty amazing if so that he was talking about bailouts back then, but that explains why he got it wrong about who actually got bailouts.

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