Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Charles Stross' "Wireless"

With a string of recent Hugo novel nominations:
Saturn's Children (2009)
Halting State (2008)
Glasshouse (2007)  
And, novella wins 2005 for "The Concrete Jungle" and 2010 for "Palimpsest"
British born sci-fi author Charles Stross would seem to be on a roll.  

Therefore, it was with great anticipation that I picked up a copy of
his latest, "Wireless."  Wireless is a collection of short stories, including
two novellas:  Missle Gap and Palimpsest.  In his introduction Stross
says that he prefers short stories because, "I get to play with new ideas
in a way I can't imagine at novel length."    

"Ideas" is the key word here.  Stross does not let us down because
"Wireless" is full of ideas, like: 
What if the Internet didn't develop as a free resource?  ("Unwirer")
Wouldn't the human race be better off if we were part of ensemble intelligences.  ("Missle Gap".)
What if, as a result of global warming, the West Antarctic ice shelf collapsed
plunging the British Isles into a sub-artic deep freeze and the only way
to save England was to make a deal with the Devil?  ("Snowball's Chance")     

My personal favorite of the selection is "Missle Gap."  The way Stross crosses
plot paths back and forth between two sets of humans, and some non-human beings,
kept me entertained from beginning to end.  Enjoy.

FYI>  Not all of the stories in "Wireless" are sci-fi.   For example, "Down on the Farm"
         is a spy story.  But, who cares?  It's entertaining and provides Stross
         with another idea vehicle.

Tom Smith, MLS
Sci Fi Collections and Reference Librarian
New Haven Free Public Library     

Also check out Tom's interpretation of the classic film 'Solaris

Comments and feedback are encouraged!!


  1. Thanks for the tip Tom!
    I've read a few of Stross's books and really enjoyed them. Particularly Accelerando. I'm usually not a fan of short stories but I'll hav eto give this a try.

  2. Joe,

    Thanks for the comment. We'd love to hear what you think of the book if you get the chance to read it.