Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cory Doctorow & Charles Stross “The Rapture of the Nerds” (Tor Books, 2012)

How do you talk about life in a world that has fundamentally changed?  That’s the challenge that faced Doctorow & Stross.  Their solution is to provide us with a luddite protagonist, Huw, who is almost as much of an outsider as the reader.  Much like Arthur Dent, Huw is propelled through a series of misadventures that provide Doctorow & Stross with the opportunity to riff on both the singularity and contemporary culture.  

There’s a paradox at the heart of this book.  While its tone is light and breezy, the density of the ideas presently can make for a challenging read.  This book is absolutely not for everyone.  Doctorow & Stross take potshots at every sacred cow within range (and they make sure that there are a lot of them), so if you’re a person who is easily offended, you won’t like this.  Their prose is packed with allusion and references to a wide variety of topics.  Again, this textual density is not something that everyone enjoys.

Why read it then?  At its best, The Rapture of the Nerds allows two of the brightest minds in contemporary SF an opportunity to play in a huge sandbox.  There are as many ideas on a single page as contained in most entire novels.  If you like that sense of immersion in a world of fantastical ideas, you will enjoy the time you spend in this world.

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