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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Charles Stross has written an outright load of rubbish. I should have enjoyed Accelerando , but instead I found myself halfway through the novel thinking to myself that I’d not yet found a redeeming quality about the book, beyond that it was half over. I decided to throw it out, and have not returned.

I love singularity fiction, but this book fails because of the exact same formula used in Rainbows End, another contemporary disaster from a historically sound speculative/singularity sci-fi author. It’s full of constant attempts (often several per paragraph) to try to use Internet pop culture vernacular and near-future tech as the norm.

Let’s open to a random page and pick a sentence:

The free media channels here are denser and more richly self-referential than anything he’s seen in President Santorum’s America.

Let’s try a slightly longer excerpt:

Manfred pauses to survey the grass, brain spinning as he ponders the fractal dimensionality of the leaves. Then he lurches after them, nearly getting himself run down by a flywheel-powered tourist bus. Club. His feet hit the pavement, cross it, thud down onto three billion years of vegetable evolution.

Another one at random:

It is believed that the weakly godlike agencies have created you as a vehicle for the introspective study of your historical antecedent by backward-chaining from your corpus of documented works, and the back-projected genome derived from your collateral descendants, to generate an abstract description of your computational state vector. This technique is extremely intensive [see: expTime-complete algorithms, Turing Oracle, time travel, industrial magic] but marginally plausible in the absence of supernatural explanations.

I give up, Stross. Yes, you’ve obviously been reading every issue of wired since the magazine’s inception, but this intense focus on trying to tie every single topic of conversation in the realms of singularities, artificial intelligence, networking, social structures, upload cultures, aliens, interstellar travel, and religion together into one neat bow is a horrible flop. Like Vinge, you’ve tried to do too much, and you’ve lost your touch. The resulting gibberish is indecipherable and meaningless.

Now, the obvious response to this is that I’m the one that’s crazy. The whole point of a technological singularity is that stuff starts happening faster until it goes truly asymptotic and nobody can really grasp the next step. This is the coolest thing about old Vinge: he doesn’t try to write about the singularity happening, he writes about the time before and after, because it’s impossible to comprehend or describe a singularity near its asymptote. Stross tries to document the singularity and the events leading up to and supporting it, and it ends up being about as coherent and meaningful as any such account of an incomprehensible event could be. At least I could finish Rainbows End; I can’t tolerate this junk. 1/10.

Update: Alright, as I was putting the book in the garbage, I opened it one more time to a random page and read this paragraph. I can’t make this shit up (and yes, the fake words and odd grammar are verbatim):

“That may be difficult,” says the ghost. “Many other humans reached halting state long since. Is at least one other still alive, but not accessible for duration of eschatologicad experiment in progress. Not all were recorded with version control engine; others were-is lost in DMZ. We-are can provide you with extreme access to the demilitarized zone, but query the need for kinetic energy weapons.”

Yeah, I know, there’s something supposed to be funny about uploaded lobsters, but nobody in their right mind can read this rubbish.