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Wireless: The Essential Charles Stross by…

Wireless: The Essential Charles Stross (edition 2010)

by Charles Stross

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7032120,359 (3.76)30
Title:Wireless: The Essential Charles Stross
Authors:Charles Stross
Info:Orbit (2010), Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:science-fiction, anthologies-collections

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Wireless by Charles Stross

  1. 20
    Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (ahstrick)
  2. 20
    Accelerando by Charles Stross (cammykitty)
  3. 00
    Zima Blue and Other Stories [Night Shade Books] by Alastair Reynolds (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Both are strong collections of hard SF stories, with some especially enjoyable short stories with a 'cosmic' perspective.

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» See also 30 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Charlie Stross contributes a well-considered introduction to this collection of his short stories. Though he is better known for his longer-length work, Stross is one of the writers that came up through the UK sf magazine 'Interzone' and so cut his writer's teeth on short stories. Having reviewed the place of the short story format in the history of science fiction, he then goes on to talk about the things he uses short stories for - mainly as a way to experiment with ideas, especially ones that don't justify the time and effort to expand them into novel form (he says).

Which is odd, really. Because at least two stories in this collection - 'Missile Gap' and 'Palimpsest' have so many ideas in them and operate on such a large-scale canvas that you could imagine writers like, say, Harry Turtledove getting a series of doorstop-sized novels out of the ideas thrown off casually in these two pieces. Admittedly, in his afterword to 'Palimpsest', Stross does admit that it might still become a novel, some day. Another story, 'Trunk and Disorderly', an attempt to create a decadent post-human world, written as a P.G. Wodehouse pastiche, became a test run for Stross' novel 'Saturn's Children'; whilst another, 'Down on the Farm', is one of Stross' ongoing 'Laundry' stories, and so in passing reflects a particular take on a peculiar British institution, the Civil Service.

Indeed, many of the stories have a particularly British flavour to them. They also date from the decade up to 2010, so in at least one case ('Unwirer', co-authored with Cory Doctorow), the tech - and, indeed, the underlying legislative landscape that the story relies upon - has generally been overtaken by events and this story in particular feels seriously outdated. I know that it's identified as an alternate history, and there's immense scope for alternate realities based on the passage (or not) of all sorts of proposed legislation, but in this instance the end result is likely only to interest electronic frontier types. (It's one of the stories that doesn't share that British flavour I mentioned earlier, though.)

Throughout, Stross' inventiveness never flags. And I spent more time reading 'Palimpsest', a deep future time-travel intrigue, than I would like to admit to because I wanted to finish it to see how it worked out, so it certainly gripped my attention. Recommended. ( )
2 vote RobertDay | Jul 8, 2018 |
Just read ' Down on the Farm ' ( Laundry ) ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
My admiration for Charles Stross's writing grows with each new work of his I've read. This collection of short stories is an excellent showcase for the variety that he's capable of, in style, subject matter and underlying ideas. I would strongly recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in science fiction as a form.

Brief summaries (without spoilers) of the stories follow.

Missile Gap
What seems to begin as a cold-war space-race story slowly evolves into something quite different, as we discover that the world that these events are taking place on isn't Earth - and isn't even a planet.

Rogue Farm

In a future rural England, a farming family with an intelligent dog has to do battle with wandering sentient farms that want to go to Jupiter. Yes, it is that odd.

A Colder War

A cold-war conspiracy theory story with a difference. Terrible forces are unleashed, going against a tacit agreement that's held between world powers for over a century.


A short-short about communication from extra-terrestrials. The payoff should make you smile.

Down On the Farm

As Stross himself says, a part of the Laundry series. In this case involving the agents who were broken in the field and need to be kept part for their own and everyone else's protection.

Unwirer (with Cory Doctorow)

An alternate-future tale in which communications technology are subject to extreme state control, and rogue elements attempt to bypass this.

Snowball's Chance

A pact with the devil story; in this case he has to deal with the not-so-good people of Scotland.

Trunk and Disorderly

A story of a future solar system with humans, androids and evil schemers told in the style of P G Wodehouse. Stross pulls it off, but as he admits in the epilogue and introduction it was harder work than he planned. He had thought to do a novel in this style, but decided to write "Saturns Children" instead.


The setting involves a kind of police force that can act outside the boundaries of time. An idea that others have explored, but Stross takes the paradoxes involved in changing the past to an extreme and adds in his own flavour of paranoia to the organisation itself. It makes for excellent, if compressed reading. It wants so badly to be a novel, as Stross himself admits. ( )
  kevinashley | Oct 29, 2016 |
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Science fiction guru Charles Stross "sizzles with ideas" (Denver Post) in his first major short story collection.

The Hugo Award-winning author of such groundbreaking and innovative novels as Accelerando, Halting State, and Saturn's Children delivers a rich selection of speculative fiction- including a novella original to this volume- brought together for the first time in one collection, showcasing the limitless imagination of one of the twenty-first century's most daring visionaries.

My Review: As always, I'll rate the stories individually:
--"Missile Gap": 3*; ~meh~
--"Rogue Farm": 4.25*; I regained hope for the remainder of the collection about here
--"A Colder War": 2.5*; who the hell is this story about? It's littered with characters and I don't get to know any of 'em
--"Maxos": ?; I can't even rate this because it's just not a story, it's an article and it clangs like a cast-iron pot lid on a cheatin' husband's head
--"Down on the Farm": 5*; subject, characters, and voice all came together perfectly
--"Unwirer": 3.5*; alternative history in short form always frustrates a little bit, but this one overcame the inevitable and left me wanting more
--"Trunk and Disorderly": 2*; humor? Not for me
--"Snowball's Chance": 2.5*; anyone who doesn't "get it" instantly probably has one digit in their age, and absent any sense of suspense, so what?
--"Palimpsest": 5*; glitters with the glamour of everything being in precisely the right place ( )
  richardderus | Oct 5, 2015 |
first story so ... slow, I stopped reading the book ( )
  andreas.wpv | Dec 13, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
This is good representative sampling of Stross' fiction; a must-have for any Stross fan and a fine introduction for the uninitiated.
added by sdobie | editSF Signal, John DeNardo (Jul 28, 2009)
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In this collection of short stories, novelist Stross moves the U.S.-U.S.S.R. conflict onto a massive disk in another galaxy in "Missile Gap," offers a spam-filter solution to the Fermi paradox in "MAXOS," suggests clever bargains with the devil in a newly frozen Scotland in "Snowball's Chance," and sets the stage for appearances by Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould in "The Colder War."… (more)

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