Accelerando! is an entertaining collection of loosely related anecdotes spanning a time that covers both the near future and the post-singularity world. Stross seems to be more interested in showing off how many geeky pieces of knowledge he has and how many witty one-liners he can produce than he is in producing a great plot or a big new vision. I expect that people who aren’t hackers or extropians will sometimes be confused by some of his more obscure references (e.g. when he assumes you know how a third-party compiler defeats the Thompson hack).
He sometimes tries too hard to show off his knowledge, such as when he says “solving the calculation problem” causes “screams from the Chicago School” – this seems to show he confuses the Chicago School with the Austrian School. He says that in the farther parts of the solar system
Most people huddle close to the hub, for comfort and warmth and low latency: posthumans are gregarious.
But most of what I know about the physics of computation suggests that warmth is a problem they will be trying to minimize.
The early parts of the book try to impress the reader with future shock, but toward the end the effects of technological change seem to have less and less effect on how the characters lives. That is hard to reconcile with the kind of exponential change that Stross seems to believe in.
He has many tidbits about innovative economic and legal institutions. But it’s often hard to understand how realistic they are, because I got some inconsistent impressions about basic things such as whether Manfred used money.
His answer to the Fermi paradox is unconvincing. It is easy to imagine that the smartest beings will want to stick close to the most popular locations. But that leaves plenty of other moderately intelligent beings (the lobsters?) with little attachment to this solar system, whose failure to colonize the galaxy he doesn’t explain.
Some interesting quotes:
humans will be obsolete as economic units within a couple more decades. All I want to do is make everybody rich beyond their wildest dreams before that happens.
“A moment.” Manfred tries to remember what address to ping. It’s useless, and painfully frustrating. “It would help if I could remember where I keep the rest of my mind,”
disaffected youth against the formerly graying gerontocracy of Europe, insist that people who predate the supergrid and can’t handle implants aren’t really conscious
And here’s one quote from the Fred in my reading group‘s discussion of the book:
The meat shall inherit the earth