One more by Charles Stross: Accelerando

I came to Accelerando with a false hope, one I’ll disabuse you of right away. The back cover blurb from Vernor Vinge made me hope that this book would tell the story of the Singularity Sky Singularity, the one which created the Eschaton. It doesn’t.

And unlike the Eschaton, which is a deus ex machina which mostly stays offstage, the transcendent results of Accelerando‘s Singularity are very much a presence throughout the novel.

Well, it’s not really a novel. It was originally published as nine short stories in Asimov’s, and it shows — there is a good bit of repetition and reintroduction (though nothing as obtrusive as in Harry Turtledove’s series). So we get to meet our protagonist, Manfred Macx, many times, along with the other members of his dysfunctional family, as they play out their personal drama against the Singularity as it approaches, happens, and leaves them struggling with the results.

And that’s the weakness of the book — humans can’t comprehend the Singularity. Stross tries hard to show it through its effect on the human (and then post-human) characters, but in the end, it’s Just Another Damn Book Of Magical Stuff (sentient business models? I’d settle for sentient business modelers!).

The book was enjoyable — Stross has a nasty sense of humor at times, and I really enjoyed some of the allusions he threw in to other SF — but the last three chapters were effective at making the point that a post-Singularity world would be incomprehensible, by being rather messy themselves.