Review of Accelerando (2005)


Charles Stross (writer).

An attempt to update Schismatrix (1985) for an even more accelerated and monolithic vision of “singularitarianism”, a vision Stross himself later disavowed. His “Economics 2.0”, with its hoarding of information for market value, resembles the City of Mind in Always Coming Home (1985) but is appropriately more diverse. In Stross’s version, 15-20 years after Le Guin, it takes so much matter and energy to build the processors and storage media that the inner planets are under way to total conversion by the 2070s:

The informational density of the inner planets is visibly converging on Avogadro’s number of bits per mole, one bit per atom, as the deconstructed dumb matter of the inner planets (apart from Earth, preserved for now like a picturesque historic building stranded in an industrial park) is converted into computronium.

Le Guin’s City of Mind seemed to have an extremely small footprint by comparison, despite a complete description of all matter from the subatomic upward being one of its goals. Stross’ goal is closer to “The Professional Approach” (1962), smashing science fiction at high speed into viscous old laws and economics.

text fiction