Cory Doctorow’s latest novel is called “Makers.” It is available here, serialized.
However, if you are at all like me, you’ll start reading it and won’t be able to wait until it its scheduled completion online in January of 2010 (unless you’re reading this post after January, that is). The hard copy version is due out this month (November, 2009). It is coming to my house from Amazon once it is available. For now, I am making do.
The characters are interesting and well-fleshed out, but it is the very-near future setting that hooked me. It takes place in a thoroughly plausible post-collapse age of massive free agency, of corporations without employees but instead of temporary teams of DIYers — the “makers” of the title — who create a product which succeeds or fails and then the makers move on. Corporation as venture capitalist.
“We will brute-force the problem-space of capitalism in the twenty first century. Our business plan is simple: we will hire the smartest people we can find and put them in small teams. They will go into the field with funding and communications infrastructure—all that stuff we have left over from the era of batteries and film—behind them, capitalized to find a place to live and work, and a job to do. A business to start. Our company isn’t a project that we pull together on, it’s a network of like-minded, cooperating autonomous teams, all of which are empowered to do whatever they want, provided that it returns something to our coffers. We will explore and exhaust the realm of commercial opportunities, and seek constantly to refine our tactics to mine those opportunities, and the krill will strain through our mighty maw and fill our hungry belly. This company isn’t a company anymore: this company is a network, an approach, a sensibility.”
Not too far from what we see around us every day. In fact, Doctorow himself says that it “predicts the present” rather than imagines the future.
One wonders what the future holds for our kids….