Monday, September 15, 2014

Neptune's Brood, by Charles Stross

Continuing my exploration of the award nominees for 2013.  Neptune's Brood is a Hugo nominee--I checked it out in good old print form at the local library.  The book bills itself as a "space opera", and it definitely has that Golden Age feel, updated with today's technology.  And I'm figuring that the "today's" part is intentional as well, since most space opera was basically straight line extensions of current ideas, with starships.  So it is with Krina-Alizond 114, part of a cloned batch of metahuman daughters of an extraordinarily powerful capitalist mother.  Natural humans ("fragiles") have gone extinct several times, and are only present by reference here.  Krina holds one half of the authentication key to a financial instrument that would change the galactic economy, and is just about to locate the other half. 

What's interesting and fun here is Stross's continuing interest in how economics and capitalism would expand off-world.  His novel Accelerando speculated on how rapid change would work here on earth, but the speculation in Neptune's Brood is quite different.  He's less convinced of ever-accelerating change here. 

On the whole it is a fine read if you like space opera--it's authentically (and only mildly) blocky in prose, and liberal with background explanation.  You also have to be kind of a geeky capitalist to really get into it.  I enjoyed it for its joy of itself, as much as anything--I'm sure Stross had fun writing it.  I give it three stars, with that guarded recommendation. 

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