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Literature / Accelerando

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A work of Speculative Fiction by Charles Stross. Set as a future history of the 21st century, it follows three generations of a family as humanity approaches a technological singularity.

Can be read here.

This series provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In several manners of speaking.
  • Apocalypse How: A variation on Stellar, in the sense that the solar system isn't destroyed per se, just converted from dumb mass to computronium by the Vile Offspring. The (trans)humans who weren't active (or involuntary) participants got the hell out while the getting was good.
  • Artificial Cannibalism: Nano-technology can make pretty much anything on demand, including "honey-glazed roast long pork with sautéed potatoes a la gratin and carrots Debussy".
  • Augmented Reality: Pretty much everybody.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Aineko's name is derived from 愛猫 ("aibyō") which means "pet cat". The second character, 猫, the character for cat is also pronounced "neko". If you say "aineko" it's also like saying "A.I. neko" since it is also an Artificial Intelligence.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The people of Earth that went through with the singularity have developed some rather odd ideas about ethics and economics, among other things.
  • Brain Uploading: A large part of Accelerando is from the viewpoint of characters who uploaded themselves as a way of saving space on an interstellar journey
  • Deus Est Machina: Aineko, by the end of the book — and arguably a good bit earlier.
  • Fantastic Religious Weirdness
    • Accelerando does strange things with the intersection between shari'a and corporate law.
    • To say nothing of the difficulties inherent in facing Mecca to pray while you're in space. Praying to an image of Mecca is evidently an acceptable compromise.
  • Generational Saga: Accelerando has three generations of protagonists.
  • Justified Save Point: In Glasshouse, Star Trek- style desintergrate-transmit-reintergrate teleporters are used as "save points," which allows public brawling and even murder as long as the combatants save beforehand. Life really is like a video game in Glasshouse.
  • Invisible Aliens: In Accelerando, they built Matrioshka brains and subsequently vanished. This is, it turns out, the natural course of development for intelligent life: they hit the Singularity, upload their minds into/get consumed by artificial intelligences, and spend the rest of their history centered around a single star, because traveling to another one is just too costly to be worthwhile. Needless to say, humanity faces the same fate.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Sirhan has a real one, courtesy of his mother. That is to say, his personality is a merge of at least four different childhoods, grown in parallel.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Manfred's cat who is a combination of a Talking Animal and Robot Buddy and, it turns out, is behind almost everything.
  • Oh, Crap!: When the protagonists realize why the Vile Offspring are resimulating individuals from human history.
  • One-Word Title: Accelerando.
  • Patchwork Story: Accelerando started its life as nine short stories.
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Singularity: The entire point of Accelerando. Glasshouse on the other hand stars the people who survived it and decided it had been a really bad idea for the most part.
  • Space Elevator: Used by the Matrioshka brain in Accelerando to disassemble the inner solar system.
  • Starfish Aliens: The extraterrestrial entities encountered by the passengers of the Field Circus are almost incomprehensibly different from humanity - one of them isn't even a "real" alien at all, but instead a corporate scam disguised as a digital upload of a naturally evolved organism. The only reason that Amber and Co. are able to communicate with them is because of the hyper-sophisticated translation software they have at their disposal - and even that sometimes fails to get the job done.
    • Although not "aliens" per se, the Vile Offspring can also be said to qualify for this trope.
  • Transhuman Treachery: The Vile Offspring became so technologically and neurologically divergent from humanity that the humans had to flee the solar system to avoid being being used as Matrioshka Brain feedstock — along with the planets of said system.