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Accelerando (Singularity) Hardcover – July 5, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 194 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Singularity Series

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

*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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Product Details

  • Series: Singularity (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Hardcover; First Edition edition (July 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441012841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441012848
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,426,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ivo J. Steijn on July 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've been discovering Stross' novels in highly non-chronological order. "Singularity sky" impressed the *beep* out of me with its combination of imagination and humor, and some of his other novels have also been very enjoyable.

But THIS one...this one goes a little beyond mere enjoyment.

SF writers are actually notoriously bad at accurately predicting the future. The danger is in extrapolating trends - "extrapolating" is roughly the same as "getting it wrong". So, no Soylent Green ("Make room, make room"), no eco-catastrophe (lots of novels from the 60s), etc.

Knowing that, an author has to work pretty hard to make us suspend our disbelief. Suspension of disbelief is not the same as hanging it by the neck until it's dead! Stross manages this so well in "Accelerando" it's frightening. He makes the impact on technology on human society, identity and consciousness totally believable. Of COURSE our consciousness is going to be decentralized, split between bits still running in the old wetware and bits running as external agents on other platforms. Of COURSE there's going to be a Singularity (and this is the most believable one I've read about yet). And of COURSE there's a perfectly societal response to all that.

The characters are still recognizably human, but sometimes just barely. One particularly well-written passage has one of the main characters lose his external computer support (disguised as a pair of specs) through which he was running many of his supplementary agents and programs. He is like a man with brain damage after that. He can still function, but his thought processes are..alien to us.

Stross is also very fond of casually tossing HUGE concepts into half a sentence during a conversation.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Charles Stross has written expansively on the concept of the Vingean Singularity, where the rate of technological advance increases so rapidly that the future cannot be foreseen. In Accelerando he charts the course of three generations of the Macx family before during and after the singularity.

The novel was originally a series of self contained short stories and is very episodic. As such, there is a series of events that are all resolved within the same chapter only to come unravelled at the start of the next. However, all the smaller story elements fit into a greater arc chronicling humanity's rapid rise, obsolescence and recovery.

Stross's writing is excellent, although computer literacy is a must. Indeed, this isn't an easy read but it is quite a ride and well recommended.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
[This review was first written on my web site. Amazon does not allow URLs to be embedded, but if you google on gordon's notes you can probably find the online version -- that one has lots of fun links to explore.]

Charles Stross is a former pharmacist, former programmer and journalist, certified geek, and current full time writer. Most people would tag him as 'science fiction' writer. From what I've read of his journals, and especially his books, he's terribly bright and very imaginative.

Accelerando is one of his commercially successful books (scan it for free before you buy at accelerando.org). The amateur Amazon reviews are well done (one of the two 'professional' reviews is by someone who didn't read the book); I can't add much to them. The book does not fully succeed as a novel -- it was published as a series of short stories and it doesn't hang together all that well. There are some annoying plot holes (no security on the goggles? Did one of the lead characters flee to alpha centauri or commit suicide? Why is Pierre asking what happened - he was there?!), some dangling and overly fluid characters, and too many annoying synopses of 'what went before'. The writing itself is professional, and that's no mean trick, but the work would have needed a harsher editor and a complete rewrite to fly as a novel.

That's ok, because it's really a series of speculative essays disguised as a novel -- and the thinking is deep and creative. I thought I was being a bit whacky when I blogged about the spanish inquisition as a corporation, and the emergent sentience of corporations in the ecosystem of economic interactions, but Stross goes much, much further.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Accelerando (2005) is a standalone SF novel. It is set in the near future during the meltdown of nation states and capitalism. The EU has self-disorganized into the European Confederacy and the United States is almost bankrupt. And the underground economy is taking over the world.

In this novel, Manfred Macx is a genius who is patenting lots of primal ideas and assigning the rights to several Free Foundations and variously selected beneficiaries. He gets free passes and other nonmonetary compensation from these astounded recipients, thus has little need for cash. Manfred has an ongoing sexual affair with Pamela, an IRS entrepreneur who constantly reminds him of his estimated tax arrears.

Pamela traps him into getting her pregnant and then forces him to marry her. Manfred is reasonably satisfied with the arrangement except for the arguments about their frozen female embryo. Three years after their marriage, Mandred is on the run while his divorce is being processed.

Manfred is harassed by Alan Glashwiecz, who has been retained to pursue Pamela's interests in the divorce. However, he also encounters Annette -- a representative of Arianespace -- whom he had previously met three year before. Annette breaks his preoccupation with Pamela by seducing him in her apartment.

In this story, Amber is his daughter, who eventually gets thawed and birthed. She gets her first neural implants at the age of three and finds herself able to function in the adult world. Yet Pam doesn't consider Amber worth consulting on her life and raises her to be independent of her neural auxiliaries. So Pam runs away at the age of twelve.

Sirhan is the son of Amber -- the one in Jupiter orbit -- who grows up to be a historian.
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