Sep 14 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 31 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books


Nerd Groupie Church Finds Fatkins Love with Ride Sidekick

Sources close to the Hollywood, Florida ride-cult have revealed that Suzanne Church, the celebrity blogger who helped inflate the New Work stock bubble, is in the midst of a romantic entanglement with one of the cult’s co-founders.

Church recently came out of retirement in St Petersburg, where she has been producing PR^H^H journalistic accounts of the new generation of Russian experimental plastic surgery butchers.

Church was lured back by the promise of a story about the ride-network that was founded by her old pals from the New Work pump-and-dump, Lester Banks and Perry Gibbons. Now on the scene are more familiar faces: Landon Kettlewell, the disgraced former CEO of Kodacell, and Tjan Tang, the former business manager of the Banks/Gibbons scam.

But not long after arriving on the scene, Church fell in with Banks, an early fatkins and stalwart of the New Work movement, a technologist who entranced his fellow engineers with his accounts of the New Work’s many “inventions”—prompting one message-board commenter to characterize him as “a cross between Steve Wozniak and the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.”

Now, eyewitness accounts have them going at it like shagging marmots, as the bio-enhanced Banks falls on Church’s wrinkly carcass half a dozen times a day, apparently consummating a romance that blossomed while Banks was, to put it bluntly, a giant fat bastard. It seems that radical weight-loss has put Banks into the category of “blokes that Suzanne Church is willing to play hide the sausage with.”

All this would be mere sordid gossip but for the fact that Church is once again glowingly chronicling the adventures of the Florida cultists, playing journalist, without a shred of impartiality or disclosure.

One can only imagine when the other, financial shoe will drop. For wherever Church goes, money isn’t far behind: surely there’s a financial aspect to this business with the ride.


Indeed there is: further anonymous tipsterism reveals that papers have been filed to create a “co-operative” structured like a classic Ponzi scheme, in which franchise operators of the ride are expected to pay membership dues further up the ladder. All the romance of Church’s accounts will certainly find a fresh batch of suckers—if there’s one thing we know about Suzanne Church, it’s that she knows how to separate a mark from his money.

<<< Back to Part 30

Continue to Part 32>>>




As part of the ongoing project of crafting’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 on our index page.

Kevin D. Clarke
1. Kevin D. Clarke
Freddy is such a rat!
Marcus W
2. toryx
A rat bastard is what Freddy is. I wonder who the "eye witness" is?
Kevin D. Clarke
3. Ed Hubert
The main index page for Makers and the links at the bottom of the installments pointing to the next installment need to be updated.
Kevin D. Clarke
4. DemetriosX
I truly despise Freddy and I hope something deeply humiliating and career-ending happens to him. But -- and I really hate to say this -- he does have a point about Suzanne disclosing her relationship with Lester. Especially considering her (about to be published?) screed on journalistic ethics.

I'm not quite sure what is meant by PR^H^H. Is this some sort of failed coding?
Chris Hayes
5. CrazyHaze
I for one commend Suzanne for not falling to the level of Freddie by trying to dig up dirt on him like he is her. I do have to say well played Freddie. I thought the article written about his journelism would have put him to pasture but well played.
Kevin D. Clarke
6. Varzil
>> "I'm not quite sure what is meant by PR^H^H. Is this some sort of failed coding? "

Kids these days! Control-H is the old OLD standard for backspace. If you backspaced over something you'd sometimes get visible ^H's instead. If you're snarky you write something, pretend-backspace over it, and continue.

I was happy to see those ^H's!

(And of course ^G goes "beep"!)
Kevin D. Clarke
9. Michael Blackburn
Yeah, ^H is from the old terminal days, when characters came across the wire one at a time. If you sent Ctrl-H, the connected terminal would back up the cursor over the previously sent character.

Obviously, none of those control codes work in page-at-a-time, so we use tags for the same effect. I wonder if this is showing Freddy's age, or Cory's?
Kevin D. Clarke
10. DemetriosX
Kid? I'm 47 and the first programming class I ever took, we used punchcards. We moved to terminals a couple of years later, but as far as I remember we had normal backspace keys. If we're at least 10 years in the future here, Freddy must be way past retirement age. I think this is just a little too antiquated and esoteric, both for Cory's audience and for Freddy's.
Kevin D. Clarke
11. Jesster
Yeah well I'm 33 and I well remember the ^H from telneting into Unix servers from my crappy old windows 3.1 box while I was at university (this was the mid-90s, and I hadn't taken the linux plunge yet). I think this was generally caused by mismatched terminal settings.

Actually, I just alt-tabbed over to an open shell: ^H still works!
Kevin D. Clarke
12. AvidReader
I thought I had the corresponding images all figured out. I was certain that this block was a reference to Freddy and Death Waits.

The gang is in a mess now, both legal and ethical. This is probably the tightest spot they've been in to date. What new amazing plan will emerge?!
Ada Kerman
13. momerath
But what is the PR intended to imply? Because of the Russian reference, I'm guessing Pravda.
Ada Kerman
14. momerath
But what is the PR intended to imply? Because of the Russian reference, I'm guessing Pravda.
Marcus W
15. toryx
Demetrios X @ 4:

I agree with you about Suzanne and her ethics. I sure wish she wasn't actually handing Freddy ammo.

Incidentally, I'm 35 and I remember the ^H command too. I think it's more a reflection of Freddy though...he's got such a small audience that he can make comments like that without anyone caring.
Chris Weigert
16. StrangeTikiGod
@13 I took PR to be "Public Relations," implying Suzanne wasn't reporting but distributing press releases...typical low blow from Freddy.
Lonnie Rivenbark
17. fuddster
Love to hate Freddy. Can't wait to see how the others react.
Roland of Gilead
18. pKp
A class act indeed.

@17 : their usual method was to wait for the buzz to die, but I guess that if this particular piece is a chapter on its own right, it will have more of an impact on the plot - maybe they'll decide that they have to do something about it. Probably a mistake, though. Plus, he does have a point ; Suzanne can't really be objective about what Lester is doing now that they're in a relationship, that's basic journalism.

That, plus a few clues in Suzanne's POV in the last chapter that seemed to indicate that she was found Lester's "enthusiasm" a bit tiresome, makes me think that the relationship is going to fall apart.

Oh, and am I the only one who liked Lester better when he was fat ?
Kevin D. Clarke
20. Michael Blackburn
Yes, the backspace key is a standard part of the keyboard. It would move the local cursor backward one space. Ctrl-H was a command to tell the *connected* computer to back up one space. Once you'd sent a character over the wire, you can't very well pull it back. You have to tell the other machine to do it, thus a control character.

@Jesster: You're exactly right. Often, PC-based terminal clients were set to simply display control codes, rather than act on them. Mostly because of ^G.

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