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Accelerando (Singularity) Hardcover – July 5, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Stross (Singularity Sky) explores humanity's inability to cope with molecular nanotechnology run amok in this teeming near-future SF stand-alone. In part one, "Slow Takeoff," "free enterprise broker" Manfred Macx and his soon-to-be-estranged wife/dominatrix, Pamela, lay the foundation for the next decade's transhumans. In "Point of Inflection," Amber, their punky maladjusted teenage daughter, and Sadeq Khurasani, a Muslim judge, engineer and scholar, try to escape the social chaos that antiaging treatments have wreaked on Earth by riding a tin can–sized starship via nanocomputerization to a brown dwarf star called Hyundai. The Wunch, trade-delegation aliens evolved from uploaded lobster mentalities, and Macx's grandson, Sirhan, roister through "Singularity," in which people become cybernetic constructs. Stross's three-generation experiment in stream-of-artificial-consciousness impresses, but his flat characters and inchoate rapid-fire explosions of often muzzily related ideas, theories, opinions and nightmares too often resemble intellectual pyrotechnics—breathtakingly gaudy but too brief, leaving connections lost somewhere in outer/inner/cyber space.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* During the last five years, Stross has garnered a reputation as one of the most imaginative practitioners of hard sf. Expanded from several stories originally published in Asimov's Science Fiction, Stross' latest novel follows several generations of the Macx family through the rapidly transforming, Internet-enabled global economy of the early twenty-first century to the human and transhuman populated worlds of the outer solar system a half century later. The saga begins with Macx patriarch Manfred, a freelance "venture altruist," giving away patentable high-tech ideas in exchange for endless handouts while looking forward to the day when nanotech-programmed smart matter surpasses humanity in intelligence and productivity. Fifteen years later, his adolescent daughter Amber is an indentured astronaut trolling the orbit of Jupiter, and by 2070, Sirhan is Amber's permanently space-bound offspring, paying witness to the fruits of his grandfather's early innovations as something ominous and nonhuman is systematically dismantling the planets from Pluto to Earth. Stross has his thumb squarely on the pulse of technology's leading edge and exults in extrapolating mere glimmers of ideas out to their mind-bending limits. His brilliant and panoramic vision of uncontrollably accelerating technology vaults him into the front rank of sf trailblazers, alongside Gibson and Stephenson, and promises to become a seminal work in the genre. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
Iron Sunrise was by far the best book of the series. Its plot line and characters were intriguing, and it hinted that some race (the Remastered or perhaps their "gods") was able to hide events from the Eschaton and maybe even threaten or destroy them. This turned out to be a major, dangling plot thread that was never addressed in Accelerando. The lack of follow-up was very disappointing.
So Accelerando is the back-story for books 1 and 2. Pre and post singularity events play out, starting on Earth and spreading out vastly, that presumably lead to the rise of the Eschaton. But that eventuality is only very loosely implied by the ending, and the Eschaton is never actually encountered in book 3.
The story spans several generations of a 'family' from just before the singularity until well past it. As with all Charles Stross books, the tone is cheeky, irreverent, and slightly manic, all of which produces a very engrossing read that makes this book hard to put down. And some of the ideas espoused in this book, especially what lies ahead in the post-singularity world, represent by far the strangest and most entertaining fiction I have read in a long time.
Although this may be an odd comparison, I felt that this book did for transhuman/posthuman genre what Neuromancer by William Gibson did for the cyberpunk genre- both built a well defined new world in which to tell weird tales and set the benchmark against which all other novels in their respective genre must measure themselves.
The idea of the singularity in human history fascinates me, so I may even try another of Stross' books.
Unfortunately, the last two thirds of the book followed a disjointed Schismatrix pattern without maintaining verisimilitude of the future. Without offering spoilers, turns of phrase common today were used far in the future by people with no real reason to find that phrase culturally contemporary at any point in their lives. (Ouch, I tortured the language to avoid revealing too much.)
I forced myself through the rest of the book, hoping for Act 3 to pick up significantly, only to have an extraordinarily weak payoff in the end. The only way to have a more disappointing ending would be for it to be purely solipsistic.
I'd advise buying a used copy and enjoying as much of it as you can. If you pupated in the Internet world of Ultrix/BSD/Linux/SunOS and Usenet back in the day, you'll have a lot of positive chuckles and not a little bit of future envy.