Friday, July 29, 2005

Iron Sunrise


Charles Stross's Iron Sunrise is one of the best SciFi novels I've read in a long time and better than his first, Singularity Sky. As in the previous book, the geek touchstones are abundant. One of the main characters, for example, is a blogger, a "warblogger" for the Times of London. The UN has in Stross's world been taken over by the Internet Engineering TaskForce. Its logo is three interlocking Ws with a starfield background.

The story revolves around a teenage goth, nicknamed Wednesday, who witnesses something she shouldn't while escaping from the total destruction of her home solar system. She becomes a loose end that the bad guys, a Nazi-like group called the ReMastered, need to tie up. The good guys, as in the last book, includes a black ops agent from the UN named Rachel Mansour and
Martin Springfield, an agent as well, but for a higher power.

I found the storytelling to be tighter than in Singularity Sky. Stross concentrates more on developing the plot and less on describing the technology. In that, he's like Iain M. Banks. He doesn't yet match Banks's ability in some of his best novels to describe characters so well that you start to lose track of the good and bad side -- you emphasize equally with both. Stross's baddies are clearly (and not much more than) Nazis.

My beach reading list (I go on holiday next week) is starting to get long, but Stross's next book, Accelerando, has just moved to the top.

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