Spotlight On: Charles Stross

The last few years have been a particularly good time to be a fan of hard s.f.  The latest crop of writers have been the strongest to hit the scene since the Golden Age, and the most prolific of these writers by far is Charles Stross.

Stross’ early works put him at the forefront of Singularity (the rapture of the geeks) stories and set him apart as a writer of incredible ambition.  Accelerando in particular was a novel with some lofty goals, which was doomed to failure.  The story is a generational saga that begins in a future that is at the outer reaches of human comprehension and then leaps forward from there, making it nearly impossible to read although worth the effort of trying.

His more recent novels have been far more controlled, and all the better for it.  Glasshouse, which was up for the Hugo last year but lost to Rainbow’s End, was one of the most enjoyable and imaginative reads I’ve encountered in years, combining the Singularity with Desperate Housewives and game theory.

In addition, Stross is also notable in that his stories tend to be focused largely on the economic aspects of the worlds he creates.  He’s not unique in this regard (Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom springs to mind), but he may be the first major s.f. writer to make it such a reoccuring theme of nearly all his novels.  Besides the economics 2.0 of Accelerando he’s also written of a bank heist in a virtual world (Halting State) and an entire series on Mercantilism (The Merchant Princes), all of which are well worth reading.

Stross has become a key part of any modern s.f. collection, and he’s only getting better.

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