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Missile Gap Hardcover – Deluxe Edition, December 31, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this weird little alternative history novella, acclaimed futurist Stross (Glasshouse) takes the familiar clashes of the Cold War and stretches and warps them to fit a flattened Earth where the emergence of new continents incites competitive colonization efforts from the Americans and Soviets. When the colonists encounter 1,000-year-old radioactive ruins and poisonous termite-like creatures that exhibit eerie degrees of intelligence, the true nature of their changed world slowly becomes clear. The result is a blend of 1900s H.G. Wells and 1970s propaganda, updated for the 21st century in the clear, chilly and fashionably cynical style that lets Stross get away with premises that would be absurdly cheesy in anyone else's hands. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

With the dazzling success of his last two novels, including the Hugo-nominated Accelerando (2005), Stross is rapidly establishing himself as one of the preeminent masters of hard sf. Here he takes a breather from weightier fare with a bizarre, nevertheless brilliant alternate-history novella featuring a protracted U.S.-Soviet cold war. The astounding wrinkle in this scenario is that the entire surface of the Earth has been peeled like an orange and, along with other, unknown continents, spread across the surface of an immense disk by mysterious alien forces. Speculation runs rampant among scientists in the U.S and Soviet Union, which has swallowed Europe, as to the how and why of this miraculous transfer, while the rivals encounter further unsettling surprises in their respective pushes to seize new territory. The creatively chosen cast includes a CIA operative named, in homage to Kafka, Gregor Samsa; the late popular astronomer Carl Sagan; and former cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Once again, Stross sets the bar high for his colleagues, should they be feeling competitive, in this mind-bending, intriguing yarn. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 99 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean Press; 1st edition (December 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596060581
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596060586
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,199,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles Stross, 50, is a full-time science fiction writer and resident of Edinburgh, Scotland. The author of six Hugo-nominated novels and winner of the 2005, 2010, and 2015 Hugo awards for best novella, Stross's works have been translated into over twelve languages.

Like many writers, Stross has had a variety of careers, occupations, and job-shaped-catastrophes in the past, from pharmacist (he quit after the second police stake-out) to first code monkey on the team of a successful dot-com startup (with brilliant timing he tried to change employer just as the bubble burst).

Customer Reviews

To be sure it is bound as a hardback and that makes it cost more.
John Matlock
One of the best examples on how you can mix history and fiction and come up with delicious reading for anyone who enjoys book what makes you think.
Amazon Customer
The ending was not satisfying, and there was no middle, because the beginning took up almost all of the book.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joe Sherry on April 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The year is now 1973. Just as the Cuban Missile Crisis was heating up something happened. The Earth, once a sphere, is now flat. The balance of power of the Cold War has shifted because the nuclear deterrent of the United States was predicated on being able to launch a missile over the North Pole and then south to Moscow. With the Flat Earth this is impossible and the Communist Soviet Union has spread its power and influence across Europe with only the United Kingdom holding out, but even that is weakening. Democracy has fallen across the flats like dominoes. The world has done more than flatten itself out, however. Sail to the East from Siberia or to the West from California and thousands of miles out there are new continents not populated by humans. The Earth has been changed, or perhaps moved.

In Charles Stross's novella Missile Gap we are introduced to a situation where what appears to be Communist plots and infiltration is far more than what it seems to be, where the manifest destinies of two empires now have new frontiers to expand the worldviews of democracy and socialism, and where there is the very real danger of some sort of alien threat because unknown beings of unimaginable power had to have been the ones to have changed Earth. Stross touches upon a combination of storylines to advance Missile Gap: a political one, and explorations from the Soviets and Americans about what exactly is on these new massive continents. What has really happened to Earth is a shocker and the ramifications go well beyond the political for our future.

Knowing that this novella first appeared in Gardner Dozois's themed anthology One Million A.D. provides a very different mindset for what sort of story Stross is telling than if the reader goes in blind.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Little on February 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a good, knife-twist at the end yarn a la SPIN but darker, more terminally competitive, more like nature than SPIN. It will not wreck your role or genderthink like GLASSHOUSE but give it some room to breath and it's a nice alt-world romp.

And it's expensive because it's a signed by the author, hand-numbered, special edition, for the reviewer before me who dinged it on price. Once it's sold off, it'll be worth more, is how these usually work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brett J. Callahan on June 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
...but you're sure to be able to get it cheaper in a 'year's best' collection. I enjoyed this book, but if you're hesitant to pay 25-35 dollars for a book you'll likely read in one sitting, wait for it too come out in a year's best. I don't see Gardener Dozois passing on this. The book itself is signed by the author and beautifully bound and designed, which is pretty cool.

The plot: It is the late seventies, and the Soviets and America are waging their cold war on the face of a new earth. Humankind has nearly come to accept the fact that a far superior intelligence has peeled the earth like a grape an flattened it to the top of a disk many times larger than the original planet. Both governments are preparing to fight each other and are expanding their empires, gathering new territories and resources and seeking out new allies.

The characters: Yuri Gagarin has been put in command of a giant nuclear hover-craft/airplane/aircraft carrier thingee and sent forth to find the comrades who have so changed the earth. After all, if a species is so advanced to change the shape of a planet, they must have developed true communism, right?

Maddy has come to the new frontier with her husband Bob, looking to escape her parents and find a new place in the world. After nearly a year on a retrofitted ocean liner, she finds herself in different surroundings, but no closer to happiness. Trained as a nurse, but unable to find employment in her field, she signs on with a scientist and begins to discover that the insects in her new home have some odd tendencies...

Gregor knows a little more about the world's new shape than he is letting on. A US government spook, Gregor heads a thinktank that includes radical scientist Carl Sagan.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark D. Pitman on February 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Charles Stross uses the paranoia and saber-rattling of the super-powers during the Cold War to fuel this alternate history novella to a startling but not unexpected conclusion. Undercover agents attempt to manipulate the opposing sides into weak position, assassinating key scientists who may have better solutions. The parallel to the way the United States under the Bush administration has decayed the scientific process is a strong undercurrent. Stross's conclusion of the outcome of the super-powers' futile struggle to dominate is logical for all the clues that were dropped along the way. Another great story from Charles Stross.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Yeah, you're paying $25.00 for a novella, a signed, numbered and illustrated novella that is a very cool thing for any Charles Stross fan to have. This isn't as good as a personalized book but it's still pretty cool, and what with e-Books it's one of the few Charles Stross books I have left to have him autograph if we ever meet.

Now to the story. It's 1976, but not the 1976 we remember, in October of 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis something happened. The earth was somehow transferred billions of years into the future and flattened and and re-rendered on a huge Dyson disk. Now, this is some weird shit, and it's the kind of idea that other writers could take and make into an entire novel, or series of novels, and if it was done right it would be really freaking cool, like the first Amber series by Roger Zelazny. But for Charles Stross, nah, this idea is interesting, but after you've read the book you'll be thinking "Wow, that was the least weird idea in the book." and then go off and play with all of the fun ideas that Charlie gave you, and when your friends come over you can sit them down and say "Hey, check this out, hand them your signed, numbered and illustrated copy of "Missile Gap" and say, ever so casually, "check this out" and when they're done reading it say "Yeah, that's a great story, that's why I bought this signed, numbered and illustrated limited edition of it" and then stand there, knowing smugly that you have superior taste in scientifictional literature, or "STF" as the kids are saying these days and then tell them that you'll cut them like a bitch if they try to sneak out of your house with it.
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