Along with its other attractions — David-and-Goliath-like encounters between kids and rich lawyers, epic feasts on jellied eels and other gourmet garbage finds, shivery alley escape routes — “Pirate Cinema” offers ample and appetizing food for thought.
In this milestone novel, Stross and Doctorow have risen to the perpetual SF challenge of portraying a world utterly estranged from our present, yet still somehow our must-be-acknowledged illegitimate bad seed spawn. They’ve raised the bar for all who follow in their footsteps.
More than 30 years ago, the novelist and critic Lester Del Rey wrote a review that hammered a John Varley book because it was premised on a wide range of technological advances. A proper science fiction story, Del Rey argued, should be built around a single speculative premise—that faster-than-light travel is possible, say, or that computers can achieve consciousness. Del Rey was wrong, and Doctorow and Stross know why. Like Varley before them, they understand that the future doesn’t happen in that one-new-idea-at-a-time way. It throws a bunch of new stuff at us all at once, and the pace at which it’s throwing keeps increasing. The Rapture of the Nerds, as funny as it is, reminds us that coping with the future will require us all increasingly to become nerds ourselves. And if you’re already on your way to nerd-dom, I’m guessing this potent science-fiction comedy should leave you rapturous.
The novel is a thrill ride — an adventure underscored by philosophy, but an adventure first and foremost. Buckle up, kids, it’s a hell of a read.
Doctorow and Stross, two of the SF genre’s more exciting voices, team up to produce a story that is mindbendingly entertaining but almost impossible to explain….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 videogames, 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.”
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.