I’m well ahead on at least one New Year’s resolution (Read 20 books in

2006? Yes. Work out three times per week? Sort of. Publish at least

three short stories in 2006? Not a chance.) thanks to finishing my read

of Accelerando last night. It’s the fifth Charles Stross book I’ve read, but in a way, it was also the first.

When I first got heavy into reading science fiction about five years ago, I got a subscription to Asimov’s magazine,

and one of the very first stories I read was a mindblowing piece of

short fiction called “Lobsters,” by a new-to-me author called Charles

Stross. I’d heard the name in passing, thanks to interviews with some

of my favorite comic book writers (notably Warren Ellis),

and I instantly understood what all the fuss was about. Stross’ story

was so densely packed with wild and wonderful ideas that reading it

literally imparted an intellectual high.

In the following months and years, Stross published a series of

follow-up stories in the Lobsterverse, and I consumed them with the

abandon of an opium fiend getting his first hit of dragonsbreath after

long months of withdrawal. Alas, my Asimov’s subscription

eventually lapsed, and I found that work and life demanded too much of

my time for me to read the entire magazine cover-to-cover, so I never

renewed. In so doing, I also never got closure to my Lobsterverse

affair, having read only the first seven of its nine chapters. Even

devouring other Stross books–Singularity Sky, Iron Sunrise, The Family Trade, and The Hidden Family–never really healed the wound.

When I learned of Accelerando, the collected Lobsterverse

stories, I rejoiced, and quickly put it on my Christmas list. Of all

the tomes I received as gifts, I saved it for last, and I rattled off

the final story in the book last night.

It was totally worth the wait. Accelerando easily paints the

most intense vision of humanity’s future that I’ve ever encountered,

and it’s got a multigenerational (and multi-incarnational) love story

to boot. The themes vary from grossly nihilistic to patently wonderous,

and back again, and it convincingly makes Dyson Spheres look obsolete, robot pets

seem terrifying, and immortality a coldly consumerist plausibility.

It’s at times like these I remember how badly I want to write sci-fi,

and how far I’ve got to go before I can begin to compete with visionary

heavyweights like Stross.