, by Charles Stross
Stross' first novel is a truly odd tale, with part of its charm being the fact that it takes a significant portion of the story to figure out anything more than the broad outlines of the universe in which it takes place.
I'll quote liberally from the Booklist editorial review
on Amazon.com: "In the twenty-fifth century, human society has depended for several hundred years on faster-than-light travel and an artificial intelligence called the Eschaton. Interstellar colonies are scattered all over, and one, the New Republic, has become a classic refuge for antitechnological holdouts. But the New Republic is suddenly under attack, literally, by the technology it has tried to suppress, which now appears under the name the Festival."
This book is fantastic, in the original meaning of the word. When the Festival shows up with cornucopia machines - portable, self replicating, nano-assembly units - the neomarxist revolutionaries within a society of technological Luddites really do
go into a post-economic society, with results that are by turn scary and hilarious (infinite sporks!). On top of this you have a plot featuring multiple secret agents trying to foil the New Republic's intended abuse of what is essentially time travel, flirting with the edge of their light-cone
, potentially provoking the wrath of the Eschaton, which brooks no playing with time for fear of the disruption of its own origin.
The thing I enjoy the most about this book is its exploration of the impact of real spooky-stage
nanotech, both immediately, in the case of the New Republic, and the distant future, which could lead to the Festival.
This is impeccably written hard sci-fi, but loses a bit due to some of the far-fetched, Mission Impossible style thriller scenes. In the stereotypical rating system of our time, I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Labels: books, nanotech, singularity sky, stross