Iron Sunrise

A while ago I read Acceleran­do by Charles Stross, a whirl­wind tour of the solar sys­tem and beyond before, dur­ing, and after a Tech­no­log­i­cal Sin­gu­lar­i­ty. It was an enjoy­able read at a break­neck pace. So when I was in Chap­ters in Win­nipeg, I picked up Iron Sun­rise, which fea­tures a dif­fer­ent Sin­gu­lar­i­ty and a dif­fer­ent future. It was anoth­er enjoy­able and break­neck read, though a cou­ple things both­ered me–Stross real­ly likes his adverbs, and they had a ten­den­cy to stand out for me, for what­ev­er rea­son; and the book is actu­al­ly a sequel to his Sin­gu­lar­i­ty Sky, but I had to go online to find that out. Nowhere on the cov­ers or inside the book is this lit­tle fact men­tioned. Had it been, I prob­a­bly would have picked up Sin­gu­lar­i­ty Sky instead. (Oh well. It’s not the first time I’ve start­ed in the mid­dle of a series; I read William Gibson’s Sprawl tril­o­gy 21-3.)

OK, here’s the back­ground: in the dawn­ing decades of the 21st cen­tu­ry, a god­like AI was born, one that calls itself the Escha­ton. It deport­ed some­thing like 90% of the human pop­u­la­tion of Earth, via worm­holes, to Earth­like plan­ets in a vol­ume of space hun­dreds of light-years in diam­e­ter, and issued a decree that the human race was not to mon­key about with time-trav­el and oth­er causal­i­ty vio­la­tions. The Escha­ton is dead­ly seri­ous about not mess­ing with causal­i­ty; more than once he/it has wiped out a pop­u­la­tion to ensure that the rules are obeyed.

There’s anoth­er group, the ReMas­tered, who are eeri­ly sim­i­lar to the Nazis–blond, blue-eyed, brutal–who seek to destroy the Escha­ton, and replace it in some far-future time with their own AI that they have named the Unborn God.

As the book opens, someone–no one’s sure who, of if they know, they ain’t telling–has killed the star that the plan­et Moscow orbits around. Through a piece of tech­no­log­i­cal mag­ic, the core of the star has been arti­fi­cial­ly aged a bil­lion tril­lion years in mere objec­tive sec­onds. The star goes nova, and Moscow is no more, evap­o­rat­ed in the blast.

The survivors–mostly peo­ple who lived in sta­tions orbit­ing Moscow Prime at a dis­tance of sev­er­al light-years–get the hell out of Dodge. They most­ly set­tle in the sta­tions of Sep­ta­gon sys­tem. But there’s a huge catch.

Moscow–like most systems–had a long-range deter­rent pro­gram in place, intend­ed to pre­vent such an attack. There are four slow­er-than-light craft loaded with drones, now enroute to a sys­tem named New Dres­den, with which Moscow had a sim­mer­ing trade dis­pute. If they don’t get a stop code from at least two Moscow diplo­mats, they will, in four years, slam their drones into New Dres­den at some­thing like 99% of the speed of light. New Dres­den, like Moscow, will be no more.

And someone’s killing the Mus­covite diplo­mats, one by one.

And so it falls to UN Agent Rachel Man­sour, aid­ed by Wednes­day, a Mus­covite sur­vivor, and a mot­ley crew of oth­ers, to stop who­ev­er it is that wants New Dres­den to die. And they’re run­ning out of time. And diplo­mats.

One thought on “Iron Sunrise

  1. Oy. It’s plots like this that make me won­der what the hell genre am I writ­ing in? Because it’s hard to fit my stuff under the same roof, ya know?

    The Escha­ton angle, i.e. the don’t fuck with causal­i­ty thing, that sounds inter­est­ing. Not sure whether I’d like the rest.

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