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Finally, a graphic novel about manufacturing!

November 11, 2010 | 12:13 pm

Tinker As any fanboy will tell you, there are graphic novels about everything. The Bible. Crime fighters that dress like bats. Mosquito-abating teenagers.

Now, for the fanboy who loves manufacturing, comes "Tinkerers: An Original Tale of the Near Future" by David Brin. Brin, the prolific author of such books as "Startide Rising," "The Life Eaters" and "The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?" has taken on the manufacturing demise in America in a 24-page tome.

The book begins: "Imagine a nation that has lost its ability and desire to make things...." Tinkerers is set in 2024, a town where high school graduates go into service jobs and buy brand names from overseas. Our hero, who looks a little like Fabio, but with shorter hair, is one of the few handy folks left in town.When disaster strikes, he must use his skills to save lives.

Next, he goes on a journey to discover what happened to manufacturing in the U.S. A man who resembles the Dude from "The Big Lebowski" guides him along a quest to find out why Americans stopped caring about making things.

"Between a spendthrift government, entitlement culture and a greed-ocracy, industry stood no chance," one character tells him, while smoking a graying cigarette.

You might not agree with Brin's plot, which blames greedy Americans, a lazy government and industrious foreign governments for our downfall, but numbers back his general premise, that Americans don't make things anymore. We've lost a whopping 5.5 million manufacturing jobs since October 2000.

Will Brin's book, illustrated in industrial blues and oranges, inspire Americans to care more about manufacturing? Or are we bound for the futuristic world of service jobs that Brin foresees?

Tune in next time to find out . . .

-- Alana Semuels

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