Accelerando - Charles Stross image
Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became a father. As such these stories became imprinted on my memory as the soundtrack to the happiest period in my life (so far).

2006 – Accelerando won the Locus Sci-Fi award, beating the Hugo winner, Spin.

Personally, I would have given the award to SimmonsOlympus, the sequel to 2004’s winner, Ilium (one of my all-time favourite books). But I’m very glad the guys and gals voting for the Locus gave it to Accelerando – because that way it got onto my reading list.

After making the decision to read every Locus Sci-Fi winner, this is the book I started my quest with. It was recent, sounded interesting, was a new author for me, and was available from Amazon second hand for just 1p (plus delivery).

This book made me feel:

I would describe it as:
A charismatic geekazoid ideagasming into my optic nerves.

What I said at the time to my wife:
The main guy I was telling you about, well he’s now a flock of pigeons living in his grandson’s space habitat (orbiting Saturn) which is controlled by the AI who used to be an orangutan, his daughter’s ship and his cat.

It’s that kind of book. Like riding a rollercoaster through a technology museum then being quizzed about the exhibits.

It throws a lot of information at you, opens up a lot of different angles and doesn’t explain much. Then it lurches off down one of these angles into the future and does it again. While you’re trying to figure out what’s happening this time, you’re also trying to figure out which details were relevant from the last chapter to get you here. Then we lurch forward again and a pattern emerges – we’re trying to look at the present, then at the past for how the hell we got here, then to the future for where we’re going next. Each lurch gets more extreme, accelerating the profound post-singularity changes on individuals and society.

It’s a fascinating experience with a wonderful, free-wheeling spirit.

But it lacks heart. By surfing the wave of progress, the characters in Accelerando are moving further and further away from traditional norms, and as such the emotional hooks they exert upon the reader are increasingly abstract and tenuous. It’s a brilliant thought-experiment, but lacking in soul.

Delighted to give it 4 stars – but quite firm that it doesn’t deserve 5.