A fix-up novel linking together Stross's innovative “Lobsters” stories.
Stross (The Hidden Family, 2005, etc.) begins his story in the second decade of this century, just on the verge of the Singularity—the emergence of artificial intelligences superior to humankind. Manfred Macx, central figure of the first three stories, is an electronic entrepreneur, reinventing economics on the fly to exploit the potential of amplified human intelligence. His major struggle is staying one step ahead of his ex-wife, Pamela, an accountant who pursues him around the world with a huge bill for back taxes. A brief reunion results in the birth of a daughter, Amber, who uploads herself into a computer program to go on an expedition to a nearby star, where alien intelligence has been detected. The aliens turn out to be small-time (but highly advanced) con artists, preying on naive beings who fall for their crooked economic schemes. But her real discovery is the inevitable byproduct of the Singularity, the emergence of computronium, microscopic artificial intelligences who surround their star and convert all extraneous mass into further copies of themselves. Upon her return to the solar system, Amber encounters her son Sirhan, the offspring of an alternate version of herself and the cleric sent by Pamela to undermine her father's plans to insure her freedom. The last three stories reunite the entire family, including Aineko, Manfred's cyborg cat, now working to escape the solar system while there's still time. Stross spins this generational saga with great wit and energy, throwing in references to a huge range of literary and cultural material, an even more exhilarating mix in novel form than in the separately-published stories. Stross also manages to make economics seem almost as cool as the runaway cybernetic revolution that serves as background to the story.
Cutting-edge science fiction from the brightest star in the new British invasion.