Hello Internet. Welcome back for Review #22. Imagine the world as you know it. Then look at what you would imagine to be post-singularity. Gotcha. But to get back to the topic at hand, I have succumbed to the beast that is science fiction yet again, and now I am left with this.
Let me explain to you what this book reads like. Picture the lovechild of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. Then give them an encyclopaedic knowledge of the 21st century, and then a large supply of acid. This is what it feels like to be thrown into the dusk of the 2000’s, with the world seen from the eyes of a technophobic walking glitch called Huw. Yes, he’s Welsh, of course he is. Because no one is better suited to judge the future of impossible and potentially genocidal machines than an irate Welshman. Not to mention the fact that whenever I read his lines I picture his accent thicker than a peat bog.
And the zany and madcap excrement this particular character manages to manoeuvre himself into is very, very appealing to my sense of schadenfreude. It’s a sad thing Huw isn’t a masochist (at least, not more than the norm, differing from Stross’s other characters), as if he was, he would constantly be in a state of arousal. Comparisons to Adam’s character Dent are unavoidable, and the plot-driving theory of having every page add a new concept or technological advancement really pays homage to the Guide series.
This is where the style really does make a difference, because I am sure that if these two authors really put their minds to it they could write a guide novel and it would not look out of place at all inside the universe. The signature styles they inflict upon the book, however, are uniquely their own. If I had to speculate, I would assume Doctorow wrote the chapters relating to Huw as a character, and showing his own internal monologues. Stross, however, would have written anything to do with bureaucracy and the political ramifications of the new tech, pulling his weight on the worldbuilding and scene-setting. The part where Huw is forced to buy an ad-blocker to allow him to continue functioning is almost cut-and-paste from Stross’s earlier novel Accelerando.
All in all, this novel gives you the runaround when you first read it, Aismov-style. Seeing as this was my first Stross and my first Doctorow novel, the style has stuck with me. It is still a large influence in my own writing (which is sparse and infrequent enough to bother me). Not to mention the convoluted and sophisticated (in a jet fighter manual way more than a tea with scones and jam way) plot line has resonated with me for the more than annoying political questions it raises. Most of which don’t make sense out of context anyway, so I suppose they stay running around in my head. Like I do on days off.
The Rapture of the Nerds was published in 2012 and can be found on Amazon (which I would suggest you get it from, rather than free from online, as it is truly worth the price) can be found here.
Yours: J.M. Pear