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The Rapture of the Nerds: A Novel Paperback – May 22, 2018
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The Amazon Book Review
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“There's a superhuman energy and intelligence to Makers that I haven't see since mid-period Bruce Sterling.” ―Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians
“If imagination is the key to success for a writer, Charles Stross has it in spades.” ―The Times (London)
About the Author
CORY DOCTOROW is a coeditor of Boing Boing and a columnist for multiple publications including the Guardian, Locus, and Publishers Weekly. He was named one of the Web's twenty-five influencers by Forbes magazine and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. His award-winning novel Little Brother was a New York Times bestseller. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.
CHARLES STROSS, author of several major novels of SF and fantasy including Singularity Sky, Accelerando, Halting State, and Rule 34, is widely hailed as one of the most original voices in modern SF. His short fiction has won multiple Hugo Awards and Locus awards. He lives in Edinburgh.
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The protagonist - a misanthropic Luddite Welshman living on a post-Singularity Earth where humans no longer die, but choose to be 'uploaded' to the Cloud, where they continue a virtual (and extremely tacky) existence - is extremely annoying for most of the text. Deeply passive, he is (often literally) dragged from one horrendous and painful experience to the next, continuously requiring rescue like an old-fashioned princess. (Note: Extremely graphic descriptions of various forms of torture and injury abound - somewhat gratuitous, in my opinion.) In each adventure, he is expected to 'save the world' in some way or another (the threats becoming increasingly dire), and thus finds himself (sometimes herself - gender is a construct, after all) in the odd position of having to defend a mankind he despises.
If you're looking for light, amusing sci-fi, turn elsewhere - this novel both requires and frustrates your full attention. It does have its rewards, but, unless you're fully conversant with all things gaming and internet-related, I'm not sure if the rewards are worth the slog.
In the case of Rapture of the Nerds I think we've stumbled across a case of two heads not being better than one. I think that individually Stross OR Doctorow would have produced a better book than this one.
This book is OK. It's a bit hard to get into and I read it more as "this is what I'm reading right now" as opposed to a burning need to find out what happens next. I finished the book and thought "Oh, OK" rather than wild disappointment that it was over. Is my life better or worse for reading this? Neither really. It just happened.
I don't like leaving lukewarm reviews, especially for one of my favorite authors but there it is. Would I buy this book over, knowing what I know? Probably not. Depends on how bored I am.
If there was a sequel, would I buy it? Probably not.
Would I buy another collaboration between Stross and Doctorow? Don't know. On paper it's a great match, but ON PAPER it turned out to be a bit "Meh"
In many ways, this is really three segments, with one flowing in to the next, but it could have been ended three times. Still, it holds together well and it will be interesting to see if the two authors with collaborate again.
It may just be my religious upbringing, but the title of Rapture of the Nerds carried a ton of baggage with it. When you couple the singularity, which has gotten beaten up a lot lately, with a religious concept like the rapture, from these specific authors, it seems like a recipe for some lets-make-fun-of-the-utopian-nerds riffing. That's kind of in vogue these days, so it isn't too much of a stretch to think you could make a novel out of it. Reading a whole novel of that really didn't appeal to me, but it turns out the book isn't about that.
While there's undoubtedly a subtle undercurrent of it in The Rapture of the Nerds, what we really have is a tale of a luddite's gonzo journey to the heart of the post-singularity, complete with mommy/daddy issues. You could call it Boy Meets Post-Singularity World, and that would probably be more accurate. There's some gender morphing, militant deep south isolationist conservatism, hyper-intelligent ant farms, and bio-tech viruses. There are also a lot of scenes in courtrooms. All in all, par for the course for a world where technology makes anything that can be imagined happen.
The Rapture of the Nerds really reads like a looser Charles Stross novel. His space opera titles like Saturn's Children are usually really tight, this one's more loosey goosey like a Laundry novel, probably the result of bouncing back and forth with Cory. If Cory's written much beyond-the-horizon sci-fi, I haven't read it, so this novel seems more Strossian than Doctorowian to me. I think some of the flavor may have bled from or to The Apocalypse Codex, as well, given that novel's bad guy. This book seems more brainstormed over lots of pints down at the pub than carefully planned.
There's a lot of the third act of Accelerando here, or the first bits of The Quantum Theif, if that makes sense. A good chunk of the novel takes place in... well... cyberspace. There's a love story, and a happy ending, both things I appreciate (I'm looking at you, Paolo Bacigalupi.). It's a lot better than I was worried it would be, though it probably isn't either of their best. There's a post-singularity Lovecraftian dread throughout this book that Stross has really nailed with the Laundry novels. In this book it isn't so much defeated as just... survived.
Most recent customer reviews
Poorly written, assumptions made and discarded at random, and illogical actions treated as normal, I gave my copy to...Read more