By Cory Doctorow
December 12, 2006
I’ve just finished Rick Dakan’s debut self-published novel “G33k Mafia,” and it was fantastic! G33k Mafia is the story of Paul Reynolds, a comic-book artist who has been forced out of the video-game company he co-founded, stabbed in the back by his partners. While drinking up his misery in a Silicon Valley bar, he meets a beautiful high-tech con artist, Chloe, who offers to help him get back at his betrayers. She introduces him to her crew of hacker con-artists, and helps him run a classic Big Con on his erstwhile partners, netting him a fortune in the process. Paul falls in with Chloe and her crew, becoming enmeshed in a series of baroque capers with a geeky twist, like forging rare comic books for sale on eBay, and on the way Paul reinvents himself as an outlaw.
The story is gripping as anything, and the characters are likable and funny and charming. I adore caper stories, and this stands with the best of them, a geeky version of The Sting.
The book is also flat-out great-looking too, the best-designed self-published book I’ve ever seen, thanks to Dakan’s prodigious graphic design talents (he’s definitely the kind of polymath that makes for excellent geekery — he’s the co-creator of City of Heroes, besides!). The entire text has been released under a Creative Commons license, so you can try before you buy, and starting today, Rick’s slashed the price for the book to a mere $5 — a real bargoon.
There’s only one small niggle I have about this book and that’s that it was very poorly copyedited and proofread. There’s a clunker of a typo, grammatical error or malapropism on practically every page. Rick promises that this will be fixed in subsequent editions, and that he’s going to get a better editor for the sequel, which he tells me he’s almost finished with. That said, this is one hell of a book. A smart publisher could do a lot worse than to get Rick under contract — though given his smarts and marketing savvy, he may not want such a thing.