I’ve been reading a fair bit of science fiction lately, and thinking about doing another preview of the contenders for the Hugos for best novel. Of those I’ve read so far, Accelerando by Charles Stross is definitely the pick. It’s the ultimate Singularity novel (at least assuming it’s a novel). It’s super-evolved lobsters and feral abaci make for something that’s much more readable and, paradoxically, more convincing than Kurzweil’s book on the topic, which I reviewed a while back.
Spin by Robert Charles Wilson is also based on the Singularity, but much more of a traditional hard SF novel in form. The earth is mysteriously sealed off from the rest of the universe by a barrier within which the passage of time is drastically slowed. I enjoyed it, but it doesn’t stand up to comparison with Accelerando.
A Feast for Crows is Volume 4 in the epic fantasy sequence A Ring of Ice and Fire. I started gamely enough, and the opening chapters held my interest, but after 100 pages nothing had happened except conversations between various characters about events that had presumably taken place in Volume 3. I cheered up when I noticed that there was a dramatis personae at the back, but then realised that the list itself ran for many pages and included hundreds of characters I hadn’t yet encountered. The style is engaging, and the series has a lot of fans, but it’s clear that if you want to tackle it, you have to start at the beginning of the series. And, just as any long book has some necessary slow bits where the various threads are gathered, so any multi-volume epic has some slow moving volumes. Nothing wrong with that, but the result is not, in my view, a candidate for a Hugo award – maybe a separate category is needed.