I first encountered Accelerando about two years ago and had a go at the PDF version last year. I didn’t get very far on this first attempt — but I blame the fact that I was trying to read it via PDF. I flew threw the first 20 pages or so but got stymied after that. It’s not a very comfortable medium for bed-time reading1.
Getting into the novel, Charles Stross seems to share some of the same literary memenome as Neal Stephenson and Cory Doctorow. The prose style (especially early on in the text) felt a bit like Snow Crash with its vivid bits of lurid ephemera, its nigh comic book pacing, its every tawdry detail competing for your attention parallel to some critical core story element. And like Doctorow on crystal meth, every ten pages of Stross bombards you with some prosaically twisted huge new idea: what would Islamic scholars have to say about bacon built molecule-by-molecule by nanobots instead of cut from a pig? if your meatbody died while a digital “vector state” clone of your mind was traveling to-and-from a distant star system, would that digital clone be liable for debts that the meatbody incurred?
In Accelerando, Stross has decided to take us on a wild ride through a technologically force-fed, post-evolutionary end-stage of humanity courtesy of some mad scientist jet propulsion laboratory. He is not afraid to “go there” with any of the implications of any of the “out there” ideas that he weaves into the story. Stross gives us an intriguing, balls-out take on The Singularity. He grapples with most of the what-ifs and gets them illustrated reasonably well through the narrative — whether it’s part of the core plot or through the asides and atmosphere. That said, for each run of well-paced, well-timed passages, there’s a short run of bits that ever-so-slightly drag. Still… I did laugh out loud quite a few times.
Overall? Not the “Wow!” effect I was expecting but still an enjoyable piece of speculative fiction with some razor sharp wit.
- Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was pretty much a one-time thing, I guess. [↩]