Archive for June 15th, 2009

Charles Stross

Monday, June 15th, 2009

taa-aceI’ve been reading science fiction off-and-on for three and a half decades now. The 50’s and 60’s were full of great science fiction. For whatever reason, the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s had only a few titles or concepts that truly stirred the soul (Larry Niven’s Ringworld comes to mind as a positive example).

Since 2000, there has been a resurgence of good science fiction from a new set of authors. I’ve frequently sent friends and readers to Marc Andreesson’s second or third blog post (a blog he no longer updates, unfortunately), which had the best list of new science fiction works available. I’ve enjoyed several of them.

I point to three who seem to have taken over the world of science fiction: Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi and Charles Stross. All three have active blogs (which are the links I’ve set up).

Doctorow is the only one not on Andreesson’s list, and I can see why. His writing is very work-a-day, his fictional insights are not great and his characters (never an SF strong point) suck. However, primarily through his blog, he wields considerable clout with the internet generation, taking on issues of copyright, intellectual property and such. He’s virtually required reading on these topics.

Scalzi is a young author whose works are incredibly entertaining. They tend to follow a Robert Heinlein sensibility, which really appeals to me. Old Man’s War is one of the best science fiction reads in the last decade.

Charles Stross, however, is untouchable. His works bristle with new ideas and new concepts. Accelerando has more new ideas in it than most people will have in a lifetime. All of his novels twist the world in unique ways, which make his writing fun to read. His Family Trade series has been quoted and referenced by Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winning economist writing for the New York Times. I’m finishing the Atrocity Archives just now from the Laundry series, which is truly great. Highly recommended.


ADDENDUM: I just remembered that the reason I started this blog was due to a Charles Stross speech – made before I started pursuing his books. Prior to starting the blog, I avoided any personal reference on the internet – now I embrace it. Read my link and the speech to see why.