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Doctorow (Little Brother) and Stross (Rule 34) take a comic tour of a post-Singularity solar system where posthumans dump digital junk on the "pre-posthumans" who cling to terrestrial life. Huw Jones, a Welsh potter abandoned by parents who ascended to the interplanetary smartcloud, receives a summons for jury service, where he will decide what of the posthumans' donations is worth taking and what's too dangerous to touch. He soon falls into a "flash conspiracy" involving a hanging judge in a Dalek-like wheelchair, a wannabe transhuman, and a sybaritic conspiracy theorist. Huw is chased to North America, where he becomes female with stereotype-laden results, dodges fundamentalists and intelligent anarchist ants, and is unexpectedly uploaded and made the solar system's ambassador to the ominous galactic Authority. Moving at light speed with a light touch, the novel mixes up a frothy cocktail of technological speculation and a wide variety of geeky in-jokes (unobtanium, Vogon poetry, "all the way up to 11"). (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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This collaboration between two renowned sf authors exemplifies what is best in post-cyberpunk fiction, in all of its barely controlled chaos. Huw, a human throwback in a mostly post-human world, wakes up hungover in a friend's bathtub with a new roaming biohazard tattoo. Familiar with such complications on a now-toxic planet, Huw signs up for what should be a routine tech juror assignment, only to find himself chosen as the human host of an alien ambassador. The plot tangles exponentially from there, involving frequent gender reassignments, a crash landing in the Neverglades, reality show judges, fundamentalist post-Rapture Americans, and genies who are wizards at financial trading. VERDICT While the cultural references fly fast and furious and the doublespeak is not for the uninitiated, the creativity, hilarity, and sheer verve of the comic conundrums will win over the staunchest technophobe. Consider this adventure of multiple dimensions a backdoor into a post-technological singularity world, which will appeal to Doctorow's (Little Brother) and Stross's (Singularity Sky) many fans.-Cathy Lantz, Morton Coll. Lib., Cicero, IL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Doctorow and Stross, two of the sf genre's more exciting voices, team up to produce a story that is mind-bendingly entertaining but almost impossible to explain. Near the end of the twenty-first century, Huw Jones, an ordinary man, is called to tech jury duty (tech juries evaluate new technologies to determine if they are safe for use); he winds up in possession of or perhaps possessed by an alien entity, on the run from the authorities, and nearly killed by some backwoods religious fundamentalists; eventually, he has his consciousness translated to electronic form, where he battles another iteration of himself in a simulated landscape to save the world. That's the bare bones of this wildly imaginative story, which plunks readers down in a completely foreign environment and challenges them to assimilate it on the fly, with the story in motion. Peppered with references to pop-culture staples (The Matrix, Doctor Who, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), and drawing on concepts from hard sf, cyberpunk, and video games, the novel is a surefire hit for genre fans, especially those familiar with the works of its coauthors. Fans of Adam Roberts' elegant, intellectually challenging sf will also be on firm ground here.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist