Charles Stross now lives in Edinburgh where, no doubt, he spends his free time with the other SF alumni of that city (Banks, McLeod et al). Indeed, fans of the 'Edinburgh set' are going to lap this novel up with great relish; 'Iron Sunrise' is a big-canvas space opera, and manages to pack a whole lot of action, intrigue and nasty plot twists into a surprisingly punchy page-count. There are echoes of the dark humour of Banks, if a little more up-front, and there is plenty of political intrigue and ideological interplay, without the socialist gong-beating of McLeod. Simultaneously serious and entertaining, this book stands alone from its predecessor, 'Singularity Sky', with no problems at all, but the post-singularity universe Stross is building here is all the more enjoyable when you immerse yourself in it as completely as possible.
To briefly synopsise; Rachel Mansour, causal WMD inspector for a far future evolution of the UN, is called to 'take out' a crazed terrorist with a nuke in the centre of Geneva. Meanwhile, the sun of the New Moscow system has been destroyed, taking the system with it, by protagonists unknown. Wednesday Shadowmist, a teenage malcontent from said system, finds herself entangled in a nasty web of people who want to kill her, because of a little mission her 'imaginary friend' Herman asked her to do before evacuating her original home. These threads and more are drawn into a complex yet rewarding tapestry spanning lightyears of space and time, all embellished with Stross's trademark wit and attention to detail. Suffice to say, if you like modern, high-octane, more-ideas-to-the-gallon space opera, then 'Iron Sunrise' is a must read.