- "Manfred's on the road again, making strangers rich."
Charles David George Stross (born 18 October 1964) is a British Speculative Fiction author with a bent for Post-Cyberpunk work dealing with posthumanism and The Singularity, but who also has a vast array of other fiction out there. Early in his career, he invented several iconic Dungeons & Dragons monsters, including the Death Knight, githyanki and githzerai, and slaadi. He's also on record as being responsible for bringing Footnote Fever to alt.fan.pratchett.
Works by Charles Stross with a page on this wiki:
- Accelerando and Glasshouse: Two books (and a third planned) that explore the concept of The Singularity and its aftermath. Despite similarities in setting, not meant to be set in the same universe.
- The Eschaton Series: A far-future series featuring UN weapons inspector Rachel Mansour and Martin Springfield, set in a universe where a godlike AI called the "Eschaton" has spread humanity across the stars.
- The Halting State series: 20 Minutes into the Future, Everything Is Online, including the criminals and police. A beat cop, an accountant, and a computer game programmer are called in to investigate a bank robbery in a World of Warcraft-esque online game, which quickly proves to be more than it seems. Narrated in the Second Person, in the style of choose-your-own-adventure games.
- The Laundry Files: Also known as The Bob Howard Series, about a special agent for the "Laundry", which is basically MI6 crossed with H. P. Lovecraft.
- The Merchant Princes Series: A journalist discovers she has the ability to travel to an Alternate Universe at will, where her long-lost family are powerful traders.
- Saturn's Children and its sequel Neptune's Brood: Set in a far-future where Humanity has gone extinct and the dominant intelligent beings are the robots we created in our image. Word of God suggests a possible third part of the series, but as the working title was implied to be Probing Uranus he may not have been entirely serious.
Other works include:
- "A Colder War", a novella combining the Red Scare with the Cthulhu Mythos with terrifying results.
- "Missile Gap", a novella combining the Cold War and the late Space Age with science and a bit of the fantastic. To say too much about the plot would be to give it away.
Tropes in his other works:
- Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The ekranoplan aircraft carrier from "Missile Gap" technically counts. (Ekranoplans are ground-effect-vehicles, and thus fly only at very low altitudes.)
- Antiquated Linguistics: The story "Trunk and Disorderly" is set in Modern Times (centuries after the near-collapse of the human race) but is written in the barbaric yet spiffing idiom natural to the early 20th Century master P. G. Wodehouse; enough to drive a cove near to distraction, as Uncle Philpott once remarked. (Additionally, there exists a Dalek.)
- Captured Super-Entity:
- In "A Colder War", the Soviet Union does this to friggin' Cthulhu. It doesn't end well. As in the original "The Call of Cthulhu," the eponymous godlike superentity is not imprisoned by any meansonly sleeping. When the Soviets get nervous about US activity and poke him hard enough to wake him up, they hope he'll obliterate NATO. Instead he consumes indiscriminately and walks west, murdering the world and bringing about arguably the darkest ending in the entire Mythos.
- Played straight in that the Soviets do have control over at least four shoggoths. Averted in that Saddam Hussein tries to summon and bind Yog-Sothoth to attack Iran. Doesn't end well for him or the Middle East in general.
- Deadly Graduation: The Hugo-winning novella "Palimpsest" has a unique variation: the final test for a time agent is to go back in time and murder yourself.
- Domed Hometown: In the Cthulhu Mythos Alternate History short story, "A Colder War", the last survivors of the human race eke out their existence in XK-Masada, a city on an alien planet built beneath a mile-high dome designed by Buckminster Fuller.
- Fate Worse than Death: In "A Colder War", everybody the eater of souls devours is still conscious. In its own words:"There is life eternal within the eater of souls. Nobody is ever forgotten or allowed to rest in peace. They populate the simulation spaces of its mind, exploring all the possible alternative endings to their life. There is a fate worse than death, you know.''
- Mind Screw:
- Did the protagonist of "A Colder War" escape to XK-Masada with Ollie North, Reagan, and other high-ranking US officials, or is all of this just another iteration of their deaths being played out in the mindscape of Cthulhu, meaning that humanity is well and truly extinct?
- Are the characters from "Missile Gap" from the same snapshot, or separated ones? Do they even happen in the same moment, or are separate by centuries? The descriptions make it intentionally vague, so any interpretation works within the context of the story. Add to that the ants that are present in few various forms, too, and you start to wonder if they are alien species or something that evolved from snapshots of Earth where humans went extinct. By the final paragraph of the story there are more questions than there were at the beginning.