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on 19 June 2017
This author has very respectable fantasy and sci-fi credentials but this is a masterpiece for a Radical Thinker and Futuroloigist; no simple sci-fi this.

What does A.I REALLY mean? What does acceleration of technological change actually offer? Now biological evolution seems to have been arrested by our control of the environment, what will deliberate evolution do to our future?

These are questions explored through following one man from a recognisable near future through to near-transcendence. The necessary legal and ethical challenges are covered in the authors well practiced engaging credible entertaining narrative manner. Family and dynastic issues illustrate some points. But this is a likely future, no 'warp' bypass reality cheats; this really could be where our grandchildren end up. And it is a NEW Unexpected but perfectly logical vision. For that reason alone 5* but it is well written and gripping.

Mr Stross, I liked you before, but this is not your run of the mill. It is a departure from your other work. It is a thoughtful MASTERPIECE: I salute you.
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VINE VOICEon 21 September 2014
Bought this from Amazon a while ago and haven't as yet done a review. My bad. This is epic and ranks as one of my favourite Charlie Stross books.

Accelerando represents near-future science fiction at its very best. Charles Stross takes an idea, and like a prop forward in a rugby game he holds tight and runs forward with it. Only an author completely at home with his genre can write a book like this, and the way in which Charlie takes the idea of the increasing power of computing and information technology and basically lights a fire under it is gripping. From the beginning with an always-connected genius spinning off new ideas and patents right through to a solar system that is almost all converted to smart, computing matter, the scope of this book explodes from page to page.

I won't spoil it by giving a synopsis of who did what and when as that'll spoil it. However if I could give this book six stars I would. it's simply epic.
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on 27 September 2015
This is quite challenging to get into at first but it is well worth persevering with. Stross tells his story at 10 year intervals and develops his themes in a very interesting and fairly believable way. Given that it was written over 10 years ago you have to credit Stross with not only imagination but also some pretty impressive insight into how the use of computers might and has grown.

Not as simplistic as the Laundry series (which I also enjoy) and with possible influences from Hannu Rajaniemi and Iain Banks amongst others, this is outstanding hard core science fiction.
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on 12 December 2016
I don't have time to tell you how wonderful charles Stross's books are. They are funny, they are erudite, they are well written, the physics jokes are hillarious and you've never laughed till you've choked over a vampire taking his alien girlfreind to tea with his tax inspector parents only to find his sister is coming out as gay and introducing her trans partner. Another book but evidence of why anyone can enjoy a charles stross book. Unless you have something against maths that is.
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on 9 August 2016
I read all the Laundry Files novels and thought I'd give this a go. On the plus side, it's well-written and plotted. On the negative side (and why I only gave it 4 stars) it doesn't so much end as just stop. It seems to me that it needs a sequel - though why modern Sci Fi writers never seem to be able to write self-contained novels any more is beyond me... It's always: Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, etc just putting off the inevitable anticlimax of an ending. However, this book is worth reading if only for the best explanation of the Fermi Paradox I've come across. Detailed descriptions of transhumanism makes for uncomfortable reading at times.
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on 7 January 2014
For me, one of the hallmarks of greatness is that a book can be read and re-read multiple times, and on each occasion you are going to find something new and valuable in it. I have just read Accelerando for the fifth time and I am still being startled by its depth, imagination width and scope. For me, it is Stross's best book and fully merits a five star rating.

It will be interesting to see, as the century wanes, just how closely the trajectory of history really mimics that laid out in this progression of family photographs, this procession of stories describing three generations of one family in a technologically run-away future. One can only hope that the answer is, "Not too closely" because, underneath the fun, the jokes and the ferocious bursts of invention there lies a profoundly sobering message about the limited prospects of both human and the human ecosystem in an environment of consistently accelerating change.

This is not a book for everyone. It will prove difficult for those who do not have some kind of handle on computing and biotechnology. It will seem unlovely those who love lyrical writing or careful delineation of character. The people who populate this book are etched in lines of laser light, bursts of colour on the eyes of the imagination rather than detailed pen-and-ink engravings.

Above all this is a book which is aimed at the cognoscenti. It would be as inadvisable to give this book to a reader with limited experience with SF as it would be to take a novice skier onto a black run. Stross throws out speculations, inventions and bits of technology (some real, some entirely fictitious) at a rate which is every bit as fast as his "venture-altruist" hero Manfred Macx, and the torrent is likely to over-awe and, quite possibly, drown the man or woman who has not spent a fair amount of time learning to kayak through speculative waters. He knows the tropes and idioms of SF and both subverts and extends them. Amongst many other things, this book includes descriptions of first contact between humans and aliens, and the prospects opened up by an inter-galactic network, only to treat both with a relentless bathos which radically transforms the genres traditional handling of such tropes.

At times it can feel as if the book has become an example of the very themes it seeks to illustrate. The pace at which the ideas come at you can leave you feeling disorientated and confused. But those with the skill and experience to handle the ride will be rewarded with some mind-expanding ideas and and a book which manages to connect the cosmic with the personal and political in a way unmatched by almost anything else which I have read.
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on 17 February 2012
Having been blown away by Stephenson's enormous intellect in gems such as Zodiac, Diamond Age, Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash, I've just discovered his successor: Chris Stross. Very, very impressive - good for a fast read, but equally good for a slow, thoughtful one. Definitely a book you'll want to go back to again and again.

Only negative for me? Lack of care with foreign languages (he quotes fairly liberally but almost always very inaccurately from e.g. French, German, Latin etc., and his attempts at e.g. French sentence structures in English also suck; they're more or less identical to his German, which is slightly better). It's a common complaint, but when the technoscientific concepts are so well researched, also something of a disappointment.

But hey, I'm still seriously impressed. And the sheer dynamic intelligence make this work very special - it's not often you come across a futurologist who actually has something utterly new and yet convincing to say.
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on 19 July 2012
I hadn't realised before purchasing Accelerando that it was constructed from a series of previously published short stories Stross had written; thus it feels rather more episodic that his other work (eg the Laundry series).

That's not entirely a bad thing; there's a lot of complex ideas being expressed here and so it's helpful to have them delivered in small chunks. However, I felt that although there's an awful lot of cleverness on the page, it isn't accompanied by characters that are very easy to identify with. There's quite a few people in the story, and aside from the protagonists everyone else feels a bit interchangeable.

Some nice ideas about reified corporations being built through recursive algorithms. I wonder if more recent corporate structures make this seem old fashioned though...
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on 8 January 2014
As someone who is a programmer and a keen sci-fi reader I couldn't recommend this book any higher. Its quite fast paced and without the required "background" (an awareness of the rise of social media or how the web/computing is evolving and its technologies, basically someone quite geeky) this book will rapidly leave you behind. I particularly liked the idea of the "internet of things" becoming a computational grid for everyone's processes, and that the transfer of human concious to machine is gradual process that is happening already. I know I already completely rely on technology to remember friends details, directions, and facebook is becoming a external memory of sorts for many. I look forward to seeing how this book's predictions age over time.
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on 25 July 2008
The most believable prediction for the future of humanity that you've ever likely to read, Stross takes his readers on a journey through the life of a transhuman meme-broker who, as a Singulatarian advocates the push away from human beings and into whatever comes next. When it has finally arrived half a century later the old protagonist is a relic of the past, as inflexible and set in his ways as the generations before him.

The real beauty of this story is the realism of the predictions, Stross' technology takes ideas from futurists such as Ray Kurzweil and projects them through time with absolute clarity of vision. The technological enhancements of consciousness don't start with microchips in people's heads, but with slight improvements to the portability and accessibility of existing technology. Stross validated my opinion that keyboards, mice and search engines are actually enhancements of the human mind, and that the slow take-off has already begun. Google is the first steps toward thread-based AI information agents and Wikipedia is our collective memory dump. If painting a believable path for the fate of humanity wasn't enough, he also extrapolates to include aliens and even hints at the end state of the universe. Mind blowing stuff.

I can only find a few faults with this book, the first being that the character development is rather lacking. The second is that the view that AI's would have some kind of real internal experience is an unorthodox one, one that even as a Monist I have trouble subscribing to. Finally, by the end of the book the children of humanity are so unlike ourselves that they are impossible to describe, so after a point Stross simply focuses on the human story instead.

Even after reading this I am still rooting for the machines. Goodbye Sol system, hello Dyson Cloud!
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