In the 21st century, the perfection of faster-than-light travel and the rise of a prodigious artificial intelligence known as the Eschaton altered the course of humankind. New civilizations were founded across the vastness of space. Now, the technology-eschewing world known as the New Republic is besieged by an alien information plague. Earth quickly sends a battle fleet - but is it coming to the rescue, or is a sinister plot in motion?
©2009 Charles Stross; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC
Stross blends sci-fi, political history, a little philosophy and lots of tongue in cheek wit to make a total hoot of a book. I was alternately lost in the details of the story or the science of the science fiction only to be surprised by the tongue in cheek laugh out loud side references. This was fun.
Warning: if you like your books to have dramatic tension or deep characters, this book is not for you. If you like your sci-fi to consist of carefully-thought-out plausible futures, this book is not for you. For those who enjoy crazy gonzo roller coaster rides through fantastic forests of sketchily described hot-off-the-internet tech jargon, this book IS for you. I imagine Charles Stross sitting at home in his boxers writing this book, giggling madly to himself as he types, spilling Dorito crumbs into his chest hair and listening to punk rock on full blast. It is a nonstop face-blast of Far Out.
Stross is always full of original ideas. I've read the book in paper before- this is a good reading. The Festival is weird, and I'm not sure I get it completely, but the Eschaton concept is very interesting. Rachel and Martin are likeable characters. They also appear in Stross's Iron Sunrise (although they aren't really the main characters there).
reader of books
This was my first Stross book. Pretty good stuff I thought. Characters were interesting, only a few places of info dump. As for the audio, the Narrator was real good at varying voice tone for various characters. Clear speaker and easy to understand.
The plot is a bit weak, but there is so much hard scifi that you can overlook the pauses in the plot. Of course the narrator makes the story move along faster than it perhaps was written. The transitions between story lines are the most confusing, but the chapters aren't too long so you can get back into the more exciting story lines quickly. It refreshing to hear a story that takes place in other than the USA.
The back story the book is built upon is neat. However, actual text is hard to get through. The characters are simplistic one sided characatures provided a thinly beied and simplistic social commentary. The plot unfolds slowly, spoils surprise twists early, and is lacking in all tension. Even the space battle at the end is just boring since by then you know what the outcome will be and nothing beyond the overbearing foreshadowing happens.
I really wanted to like the book, but I wish I had just read a spoiler heavy summary instead.
The narration was quite good for the audio book.
I liked the plot. I suppose it qualifies as hard science fiction. I liked the scientific basis, which was plausible enough. Also a minimum of fight scenes; a plus. Story was more the psychology of the various characters.
George is one of my favorite readers. I usually associate him with Longmire, but after a couple minutes he convinced me he could do a great job with SF as well.
Stross is s favorite of mine as well, although I have never listened to his Space stories before. I am rushing off to find another. It was a gripping read.
I'm a Hard SF & Space Opera-loving, alien android from the future. I bring gifts of SciFi eBooks & accessories for your leader's Kindle. Take me to him/her/it.
There seems to be an uncomfortable amount of bashing the Russian Revolution in the themes found here. A brittle authoritarian monarchy with a deep distrust of post-industrial technology is confronted by an external visitor that turns everything in their society on its head with a deluge of free information. When undercover agents from a freer, more liberal and technologically advanced society insert themselves into the military response, it’s hard not to think of cold war cat-and-mouse thrillers. To make the parallels completely undeniable, Stross has loaded the Soviet-style civilization (ironically named the New Republic) with Eastern European surnames. There’s not a lot of surprises in the plot, however, as the adversaries are so overwhelmingly mismatched. The rigid commanders of the New Republic refuse to realize this, so the reader is treated to a very rapid illustration of a society entering into a technological singularity. Here, I was reminded a bit of Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels where the practically omnipotent Culture society often comes into well-meaning conflict with it’s mortal neighbors. There were also some intriguing possibilities brought up regarding FTL travel and its implications on Causality, as well as some practical economic effects resulting from cheap nano fabricators. Separately, a lot of these ideas are explored in other Space Opera books, but they came together nicely here and serve as a reminder of what foundations must be in place before certain technologies safely come into a society’s grasp.
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