Book review - Accelerando by Charles Stross

Wed 29 March 2017

I have decided to try writing short reviews here for books I am currently reading. I'll do my best to not include any spoilers.

So, the book I have just finished is Accelerando by Charles Stross. This is another of those titles that has long remained untouched on my reading list and I am glad to have finally scratched it off.

It is initially set in the first years of the 21st century in the immediate run-up to the technological singularity and proceeds to follow over time the mavericks of the uber intelligent, technologically adept and influential Macx family as they steer humanity's trajectory through this tumultouos and disruptive period.

Themes and topics explored in the book include "mind uploading", sentient animal/human AIs and their rights, distributed intelligences, the industrialisation of the solar system and beyond, viable centrally AI-planned economies, increasing cybernetic convergence, alien signals and ultra-intelligences and our attempts at contact, the psychological/social/economic/religious costs of exponential technological progress and much more.

Stross' prose is sometimes dense but always fashionable, full of information-packed metaphors of science/tech jargon. This from what I gather is one of Stross' signature strengths as a writer. Character development was well done given in my opinion given the surrounding chaos. Stross expertly conveyed the sense of being there on the cusp of the singularity and his exploration of the post-singularity world was well handled and enjoyable.

This is one of the best fictional explorations of the concept of the singularity and, while it can feel like a bit of a slog in certain parts, overall it is an intellectually rewarding, thought provoking and enjoyable read.