I am trying so hard, but I still haven't read a Charles Stross I like as much as I like his twitter feed, and that makes me frustrated. I want to fall in love with his books! This gets closer than the two I've previously read, but not quite there. It's a good book, but I'm still a little on the fence.
Partly it's because I get a little baffled by his singularity stuff. I enjoy it, it's exciting, and it should be difficult for us mere pre-singularity mortals to understand. But at a certain point, I keep feeling like there's a piece of information he's left out that would help me make a little more sense out of what's going on. I like it when authors expect me to figure things out myself, but I just keep feeling like there's a piece of evidence that I'm either overlooking or isn't there that would let me do so.
But, you know, that's okay. I'm fine with letting absolute comprehension go by if the story and character are good. And in this one, the story is good, but the characters drove me batty. I was reading two books at the same time with families who control and mock and hurt each other and all behave like emotionally stunted adolescents no matter what their ages, and the other one became the first book I didn't finish this year.
This is not quite that bad, but I did get frustrated with the characters, even though there is a bit of a reveal near the end that makes their reaction to each other a bit more understandable. But it's still not fun to go through 400+ pages of kneejerk negative reactions to each other, and no one ever just actually talking or actually listening to anyone else.
And the bit where the book seems to claim that in order to get to a singularity, any civilization, on any planet, needs to be in the midst of stock market capitalism? Complete with pyramid schemes and other economic absurdities? I don't care if you say that's what happens here, but that's what happens to everyone, so there's an interstellar futures market because everybody's doing it? I would need to know why, I think.
So this has been fairly negative so far, but that's mostly because I'm trying to parse out exactly why these books don't quite grab me when I'm quite willing to be grabbed. On the good side, it's a fascinating look at what a world that is almost unrecognizable to us might be like. The divisions between groups of humans (although I wasn't thrilled that everyone that didn't embrace the technology wholeheartedly were portrayed as control-freak fundamentalists) and the growing generation gap between the posthumans and the ahead-of-the-curve technophiles that gave them birth.
I enjoyed the ideas in this story very much, and that was almost enough. Not enough to make me fall hard for this author, but I'm getting there. I'll try again.
Crossposted to Smorgasbook