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Iron Sunrise (Singularity) by Charles Stross

Iron Sunrise (Singularity) (original 2004; edition 2004)

by Charles Stross

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1,592274,572 (3.86)17
This is a science fiction thriller set in a future in which there is a nearly godlike power, the Eschaton, which is policing the human-settled worlds (indeed, which has settled much of the galaxy for its own reasons). Not everyone is happy about this, and one group of people, the ReMastered, wants to replace the Eschaton with their own god-from-the-machine. It is a rather interesting, and less-than-altogether-pleasant future. The Singularity does not mean that we all transcend. Not-god's name is Herman...
  Fledgist | May 20, 2012 |
Showing 1-25 of 27 (next | show all)
Things I like:
- Stross's version of the singularity. I love the idea of it disappearing and monitoring humanity from afar
- The singularity was also a convenient way of mixing three disparate human societies, isolating them for a couple hundred years, and seeing what you get. What you get is all kinds of little new-ish cultures. neat.
- the ReMastered. Great military strategy, creepy belief system including a weird kind of real immortality. what's not to like?
- I need more characters like Rachel in Scifi, basically women who do good because they can't imagine doing anything else

Things I didn't like:
- not crazy about Stross's voice for 14 year old girls. Just... meh.
- Stross's writing style in general is a little glib and his characters don't compare to his ideas...
  bianca.sayan | Sep 29, 2014 |
The sequel novel to _Singularity Sky_, with the same good set of science-fictional ideas as background. But, for me, there's too much savagery, depravity, vulgarity, and complication in the plot.
  fpagan | Apr 5, 2014 |
I liked this one much more than Accelerando, and liked some of the characters, but it still didn't warm me up much to this guy's writing. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
This is a science fiction thriller set in a future in which there is a nearly godlike power, the Eschaton, which is policing the human-settled worlds (indeed, which has settled much of the galaxy for its own reasons). Not everyone is happy about this, and one group of people, the ReMastered, wants to replace the Eschaton with their own god-from-the-machine. It is a rather interesting, and less-than-altogether-pleasant future. The Singularity does not mean that we all transcend. Not-god's name is Herman...
  Fledgist | May 20, 2012 |
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Regular visitors will know that I'm currently in the process of reading every novel sci-fi author Charles Stross has ever written; I started last time with his very first, 2003's Singularity Sky, which told a surprisingly funny and absurdist tale set in the far future, centuries after the human race was split and flung across the universe one day by a far advanced alien life form, because of a united humanity recently discovering time travel and thus technically now capable of accidentally wiping out this "Eschaton"s very existence. And this is the same universe where his next novel is set as well, 2004's Iron Sunrise, although it's not exactly a sequel; for although it features the same duo of main heroes as the first book (a plucky female UN inspector and a male secret agent for the Eschaton, the two now married after falling in love in the first novel), the story itself takes place among an entirely different planetary system, basically starting with the unexpected explosion of a local star and the destruction of the world orbiting it (the "iron sunrise" of the book's title), which leads us down an ever-widening rabbithole of conspiracies, ultra-fascist organizations, and galaxy-domination plots.

And indeed, the either good or bad news, depending on what you think of the subject, is that Iron Sunrise adheres much more strongly to the traditional tropes of 1990s and early 2000s cyberpunk, after a first novel that cleverly combined hard science-fiction with the gonzo silliness of countercultural "motley fool" writers like Ken Kesey; the latter now features such familiar genre touches as a rebellious 15-year-old girl as our main protagonist, five or six different small storylines that all come together into one giant climax at the end, spaceship chases and planet-hopping bloggers and all the other things you would expect from a SF tale written in those years. (Also, this second novel makes it clear that the Eschaton is actually a single entity, essentially the result of a cloud computing system like the Google server farm gaining sentience; and while that helps make things clearer from a plot standpoint, I admit that it kind of removes the fun in the first novel of never quite knowing what exactly the Eschaton is/are.) Still, although far from his best or densest or trippiest work, Iron Sunrise is definitely an interesting read and worth the time of Stross completists; although I have to confess that I'm looking much more forward to the next title in my reading list, 2005's Accelerando, the first of Stross's books to make a big splash in America and coiner of the entire cultural phrase "The Accelerated Age" (a popular way among SF fans to refer to stories that take place in a post-Singularity universe). ( )
  jasonpettus | Mar 16, 2012 |
I really enjoyed this book. I felt it flowed more easily than Singularity Sky. I guess I also enjoyed the new characters ... and it was refreshing to have some of the bad guys have a serious amount of depth to them. I mean even someone enabling what amounts to space nazis with their finger on billions of lives still has there own issues and friends. What I did not like, was hearing from one of my other friends who reads quite a lot, that there is likely never to be another book in the series. I mean, I thought it was really good... and not unlike some of my favorite cancelled TV series -- it ended with a fairly huge cliff hanger. Come on publishers... I want more! ( )
  jlabeatnik | Oct 6, 2011 |
Stross loves a good conspiracy, and if there is a way to throw in possession and a little righteous anger from the minion of the good guys all the better. Sometimes the pacing of his stories doesn't work so well for me, but this one had me hooked almost immediately. Rachel is a black-ops WMD disarmament specialist for the UN. Wednesday is a goth kid whose whole planet is destroyed by forces unknown, while she manages to hide some critical piece of evidence and escape, only to have her family killed by a faction of the ubermensh race of the ReMastered. Of course, they all end up on a space luxury liner run by the White Star Line, along with a preeminent assassin and a war correspondent. Subtle is not a tool that Stross used while writing Iron Sunrise, but it is an engaging, rollicking space-opera. Enjoy. ( )
  grizzly.anderson | Apr 20, 2010 |
I don't remember much about this one but I know i've read it. ( )
  topps | Mar 21, 2010 |
A well-written and well-paced tale of planetary genocide, interstellar plots and cults seen through the eyes of a few key players, from a disaffected teenager with voices in her head to some scary totalitarian plotters. Although enjoyable, I didn't find this book as much of a revelation as Stross's debut novel, Singularity Sky. It doesn't contain an idea which is as novel, and as much fun, as The Festival. But it is set in the same overall world of causal channels and the god-like presence of the Eschaton, and humans who want to outwit them. The characters are good and varied and the settings well-imagined, and the plot has enough twists to satisfy those who like such things.

But I would have liked to know more - or less - about the ReMastered and quite why they act as they do. Their presence is a given and there are some aspects of the plot which turn on their behaviour which don't quite ring true. We're given to believe that their 'puppets' are key to their plots for planetary takeover. Yet the only one directly described in the text clearly behaves like a B-movie zombie that would convince no one.

But, that nagging problem aside, this is a good read which will satisfy anyone who's enjoyed Stross's other work or that of Ken Macleod (and I include myself in their number.) ( )
  kevinashley | Jan 7, 2010 |
Nice combination of the genres of 'space opera' and 'secret agent'. ( )
  AsYouKnow_Bob | Nov 17, 2008 |
Good space opera with some cyberpunk traits. Not as original as its prequel but at least it doesn't have all the technical gibberish the former had. I would have liked to hear more about the "festival" but instead we get new bad guys, some kind of neo-nazis of the future. All in all It is quite a page-turner, but without the awe-effect "Singularity Sky" could provide. 17/03/2008 ( )
1 vote pivox | Sep 16, 2008 |
Iron Sunrise is an exciting space opera thriller, filled with wonders of the post-singularity world and furnished with a clever plot with plenty of twists. It's fast and fun; that is, great entertainment for science fiction fans.

A planet called New Moscow is destroyed in a rather brutal manner. The surviving Muscovites aim their doomsday weapons to New Dresden, a neighbouring planet with which New Moscow had a trade conflict. Too bad the Dresdeners are actually innocent.

An angsty teenage Muscovite survivor called Wednesday happens to have some information about what really happened. An experienced warblogger Frank is looking into the matters. The diplomatic black osp forces from Earth are getting involved, and of course, there's the god-like artifical intelligence Eschaton, who doesn't like trouble in it's light-cone.

No wonder the things get interesting. The diplomat from Earth is, of course, Rachel Mansour, already familiar from Singularity Sky, set in the same world. The books share common background and Iron Sunrise refers to the events in Singularity Sky, but the books are essentially independent.

For the fans of high-tech science fiction and exciting techno thrillers, this is a fun ride. (Review of Iron Sunrise in Mikko reads) ( )
  msaari | Jun 15, 2008 |
Stross is an excellent writer of very complicated worlds. Despite his general fascination with sexual culture that doesn't really seem to advance the plot, the man writes a darn good singularity. ( )
  dberryfan | Apr 8, 2008 |
When this book was published, Charles Stross was science fiction’s most recent sensation. After years of relative anonymity, he’d been shortlisted for SF awards for his novels (both SF and fantasy) and novellas. Iron Sunrise, which garnered the best novel nomination for the 2005 Hugo Awards, is a follow-up to Singularity Sky, which was shortlisted for the 2004 Hugo for best novel.

Like its predecessor, Iron Sunrise is 21st century space opera. For those unfamiliar with the term, space opera is SF writ large, i.e., conflict on an interstellar or intergalactic scale. A subgenre that dates back to the earliest days of SF, more recent purveyors have managed to shed the pulp image with which such stories were saddled. Stross does so with heavy doses of cyberpunk, 24th century James Bond, hard SF – and even a little detective story.

There is a common back story to both books. The Eschaton is an artificial intelligence that borders on godlike. While expressly disavowing any deity-like status, the AI exists in humanity's future and imposes harsh measures on anyone who seeks to use technology to violate causality and, hence, threaten the AI’s existence. To hinder the possibility, in the 21st century the Eschaton relocates most of humanity from Earth to far-distant planets, leaving only the essentials for humans to carve out a new society and existence. Thanks to wrinkles in the space-time continuum, each light year in distance also meant going back a year in time. Thus, some three centuries later, mankind has blossomed throughout the universe, bringing with it inventions such as faster-than-light travel, something which can directly threaten causality.

While most of this unfolded in Singularity Sky, knowledge of that story is not a prerequisite to Iron Sunrise. Moreover, despite the grand scale of the back story, it truly is a back story. The Eschaton and the relocation of humanity is a foundation of this story. Yet it never becomes the forefront or focus of the tale.

What is in the forefront here are the human characters, all brought into play by an almost quintessential space opera moment. Someone or something exploded the sun around which the planet Moscow orbited, annihilating it and its 200 million inhabitants. In a leading role in this opera is Wednesday, a 24th century adolescent cyberpunk who lives on a space station some 3.6 light years from Moscow's sun. In the process of evacuating the station, she unknowingly discovers the secret to the destruction. Also in starring roles are husband and wife Martin and Rachel, both also prominent in Singularity Sky. Rachel works for the UN and is "Black Chamber" agent charged with, among other things, trying to prevent causality violations. She is asked to investigate who’s been assassinating the remaining members of Moscow’s diplomatic corps, individuals who hold the key to a potential long-term retaliatory strike automatically launched upon Moscow's destruction. Then there’s Frank, a "warblogger" for the London Times looking into the destruction of Moscow and the political forces at play. Finally, there is a cadre of the ReMastered, humans whose ideology centers around destroying the Eschaton and replacing it with "the unborn god."

Although initially spread across several planets and systems, Stross ultimately brings all these characters together on a faster-than-light space liner that serves as a focal point of and staging ground for the ultimate resolution of the tale. That is, perhaps, the most glaring weakness of Iron Sunrise. While the whole story is based on a reader accepting the Eschaton and the exploding sun, for some reason it is a bit tough to believe the key characters from several different planets in a story unfolding across light years find themselves together on the SF equivalent of a cruise ship. Similarly, the penultimate denouement is reminiscent of a murder mystery where all the players are brought together in the dining room as the detective announces his resolution of the mystery. Here, one of the bad guys brings everybody together and ties up a variety of loose ends in one scene. Both approaches feel like a quick way out after Stross spent so much time setting the stage and shaping the characters.

Finally, some might complain because the close of the book leaves the doors wide open for another sequel with Rachel and Martin. Stross does not, however, leave any loose ends in this story itself. More important, he has not come close to fully exploring the Eschaton or the universe it has created for humanity. His willingness and ability to explore such paths have brought him where he is today.

Originally posted at http://prairieprogressive.com/2005/06/22/iron-sunrise-2004/
5 vote PrairieProgressive | Sep 24, 2007 |
Far slower to get to an enjoyable point than singularity sky. Same universe, same characters, but the method of writing has taken a far different turn. For whatever reason I found myself looking at the book as a chore until I reached about halfway through, at which point it became immensly enjoyable. It's no singularity sky, but it's a lot of fun once the lengthy intro is over. ( )
1 vote johnemersonsfoot | Sep 15, 2007 |
Cover blurb: When the planet of New Moscow was brutally destroyed, its few survivors launched a counter-attack against the most likely culprit: the neighbouring system of trade rival, New Dresden. But New Dresden wasn't responsible and, as the deadly missiles approach their target, Rachel Mansour, agent for the interests of Old Earth, is assigned to find out who was.

The one person who does know is a disaffected teenager who calls herself Wednesday Shadowmist. But Wednesday has no idea where she might be hiding this significant information. Time is limited and if Rachel can't resolve this mystery it will mean the annihilation of an entire world...
  baffiebabe | Aug 7, 2007 |
Good old-fashioned space opera, with the addition of a singularity for more fun. ( )
  cmc | Apr 25, 2007 |
The Iron SUnrise is a supernova, a collapse of a star. This is a novel of political intrigue. ( )
  DaveFragments | Apr 20, 2007 |
Pretty average. Continuation of the 'Singularity Sky' universe (distopia) with some of the same characters. The plot is pretty slow and heavy, and annoyingly disjointed. 'Singularity Sky' was much better. ( )
  baltazargabka | Feb 20, 2007 |
Having read a few Ken MacLeod books, it follows that I should get into fellow brit Charles Stross. I started with Iron Sunrise (I know i'm supposed to have read Singularity Sky but I got mixed up at the bookstore so read this first)

The basic story focuses on Wednesday who lives on a space station in the future until her home planet is destroyed in a mysterious and unexpected supernova. She happens to have been drawn into the mystery of the cause of this supernova which turns out to be dangerous to her life. As a refugee she meets (amongst others) a burnt out warblogger, a pair of interplanetary spooks, a godlike singularity intelligence, some unlikely assasins and a bunch of high-tech neofacists.

The story is full of lots of cool things like dynamic makeup and clothing for our heroin, computer implants with interfaces through rings and finger movements, guns that shoot around corners (pretty standard but always fun) and intelligent cyborg dogs (also pretty standard i guess).

The actual plot kept me guessing and involved. The characters have some humanity but probably aren't that realistic - they had good history and reactions to things but not much variety of world view. When comparing with Ken Macleod, whose characters have contrasting views on things even when they are on the same 'side'.

There wasn't much philosphical value either - it was just the story with not much attempt at asking any moral questions. There is a moral dillemna at the end of the book which Wednesday must face but it's a bit of a cliche. I think there was room to more fully explore the warblogger's conflict of interest between getting a good story and helping out. The same with many of the other characters who seem to do what they do without much thought. ( )
1 vote djfoobarmatt | Feb 8, 2006 |
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