Accelerando is a 2005 science fiction novel consisting of a series of interconnected short stories written by British author Charles Stross . As well as normal hardback and paperback editions, it was released as a free e-book under the CC BY-NC-ND license . Accelerando won the Locus Award in 2006, [1] and was nominated for several other awards in 2005 and 2006, including the Hugo , Campbell , Clarke , and British Science Fiction Association Awards . [1] [2]


In Italian, accelerando means “speeding up” and is used as a tempo notation in musical notation . In Stross’ novel, it refers to the accelerating rate of the world in general, and / or the novel’s characters, head towards the singularity . The term was earlier used by Kim Stanley Robinson in his 1985 novel The Memory of Whiteness and his 1992-96 March trilogy .

Plot introduction

The book is a collection of nine short stories telling the tale of three generations of a family before, during, and after a singularity . It was originally written as a series of novelettes and novellas, all published in the Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine in the period 2001 to 2004. According to Stross, the initial inspiration for the stories was his experience working as a programmer for a high-growth company during the dot-com boom of the 1990s. [3]

The first three stories follow the character of agalmic “venture altruist ” Manfred Macx, starting in the early 21st century; the second three stories follow his daughter Amber; and the final three focus largely on Amber’s Sirhan sound in the world.

Plot concepts

Stross describes the situation at the start of Accelerando as:

In the background of what looks like a Panglossian techno-optimist novel, horrible things are happening. Most of humanity is wiped out, then arbitrarily resurrected in mutilated form by the Vile Offspring. Capitalism eats everything then everything then everything then everything the everything the everything the everything; everything; everything ; we’re a fat, slow-moving, tasty resource – like the dodo. Our narrative perspective, Aineko, is not a talking cat: it’s a vastly superintelligent AI, coolly calculating, that has worked out that they are more easily manipulated if they think they’re dealing with a furry toy. The cat body is a sock puppet wielded by an abusive monster. [4]

As events progress in Accelerando , the planets of the solar system are dismantled over time to form a Matrioshka brain , a vast solar-powered computational device inhabited by minds inconceivably more advanced and complex than naturally evolved intelligences such as human beings. This proves to be a normal stage in the life-cycle of an inhabited solar system; the galaxies are revealed to be filled with such Matrioshka brains. Intelligent consciousnesses outside of Matrioshka brains can communicate via wormhole networks.

The notion that the universe is dominated by a communications network of superintelligences bears comparison with Olaf Stapledon’s 1937 science fiction novel Star Maker , Stapledon’s advanced civilizations are said to communicate psychically rather than informatically.


  • Manfred Macx : Venture altruist, protagonist of the early stories.
  • Aineko : Manfred’s robotic, intelligent cat.
  • The Lobsters : Sentient Nervous-System State Vents from Panulirus interruptus , the California spiny lobster .
  • Bob Franklin : Billionaire investor; originator of the Franklin Collective, a “borganism” composed of multiple bodies sharing the same mind.
  • Annette Dimarcos : Arianespace employee; Manfred’s second wife.
  • Pamela : Manfred’s partner, later first wife.
  • Gianni Vittoria : Former Minister for Economic Affairs, sometime Minister for Transhuman Affairs, economic theoretician.
  • Amber Macx : Manfred and Pamela’s daughter.
  • Dr. Sadeq Khurasani : Muslim imam , engineer, Field Circus crewman.
  • The Wunch : Predator alien virtual constructs embedded in the wormhole router orbiting Hyundai.
  • The Slug : Sentient alien corporation / economy / 419 scam from the router.
  • Sirhan al-Khurasani : Son of Amber and Sadeq’s physical versions.
  • Vile Offspring : Derogatory term for the posthuman “weakly godlike intelligences” that inhabit the inner solar system by the novel’s end.

Plot summary and breakdown by story

In the following table, chapter name & original magazine date of publication, and a brief synopsis are given. The nine stories are grouped into three parts.

# Chapter / Date of original publication Part 1: Slow Takeoff – Synopsis
1 “Lobsters”
June 2001
In early-21st-century Amsterdam , Manfred receives a call from a claimant to a net-based AI working for KGB .ru , seeking his help on how to defect. Eventually, he discovers the callers are actually uploaded brain-scans of the California spiny lobster looking to escape from humanity’s interference. Driven By His commitment to agalmic economics, he marriages to team them up with entrepreneur Bob Franklin, who is looking for an AI crew to His nascent spacefaring project-the building of a self-replicating factory complex from cometarymaterial. A legal precedent is established that will help define the rights of future AIs and uploaded minds. Later, Manfred’s predatory fiancée Pamela forces him to impregnate and marry her in an attempt to control him.
2 “Troubadour”
October 2001
Three years later, Manfred is in the throes of an acrimonious divorce, and has a daughter of his marriage to Pamela, frozen as a newly fertilized embryo. He meets Annette again, and begins a relationship with her. Three schemes-a workable state centralized planning apparatus that can interface with external market systems , a way to upload the entirety of the 20th century’s out-of- copyright film and music to the net, and a plan to thwart its fatping wife and her lawyers -come together perfectly. Amber, Manfred’s daughter, has been defrosted and born, and is being brought up by Pamela.
3 “Tourist”
February 2002
In Edinburgh , five years later, Manfred is mugged and his memories (stored in cyberware ) are stolen, forcing him to rediscover who he is and what he’s doing in Edinburgh. Meanwhile, the Lobsters are thriving in colonies located at the L5 point , and one comet in the asteroid belt ; they, along with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the ESA , have picked up encrypted signals from outside the solar system . Bob Franklin, now dead, is personality-reconstructed in the Franklin Collective. Manfred, his memories recovered, moves to further expand the rights of non-human intelligences. Aineko begins its own study and decoding of the alien signals.
# Chapter Part 2: Point of Inflection – Synopsis
4 “Halo”
June 2002
A decade later, Amber Macx – in his early teens – finally breaks from his dominating motherboard by using a complex plot, thought up by Manfred and Annette, in which she enslaves herself via a Yemeni shell corporation and later enlists aboard to Franklin Collective -owned, youth-crewed spacecraft, mining materials from Amalthea , Jupiter ‘s third moon . Pamela petitions the imam Sadeq to issue an Islamic legal judgment against Amber, which she thwarts by setting up her own empire on a small, privately owned asteroid , thus making herself sovereign. In the meantime, the alien signals have been decoded, and a physical journey to a ” router ” is planned.
5 “Router”
September 2002
The alien router, orbiting a 3- light-year- remote brown dwarf star named Hyundai + 4904 / -56, is visited by the spacecraft Field Circus , a Coke -can-sized mass of computronium propelled by a Jupiter-basedlaser and a lightsail . Amber and 62 others have uploadedto become the virtualised crew. They are contacted by a group of aliens called “The Wunch”, who occupy virtual bodies based on Lobster patterns “borrowed” from Manfred’s original transmissions. The Wunch is going to be thieving, third-rate “barbarians” who, after a struggle, are thwarted. Amber and a few others make the decision to go deep into the router’s wormhole network.
6 “Nightfall”
April 2003
The router explorers find themselves trapped by yet more malign aliens in a variety of virtual spaces, but are eventually set free by Aineko’s machinations. They discover that they are being hosted in a Matrioshka brain , the builders of whom they have disappeared, leaving an anarchy ruled by sentient, viral corporations and scavengers who attempt to use newcomers as currency. The crew finally escape by Offering transition to a “rogue alien corporation” (a ” pyramid scheme crossed with a 419 scam “) Virtualized have a giant slug , Who opens a powered road out. Thereafter, the crew begins the journey back home.
# Chapter Part 3: Singularity – Synopsis
7 “Curator”
December 2003
Back in Earth’s solar system, the crew Find That “home” is now Saturn was floating habitat in the planet’s upper atmosphere, Where They meet Sirhan her of the physical Amber and Sadeq Who Both stayed (and died) at home. The crew uploads their virtual worlds, and they find that they are unable to compete with the new economics 2.0 model practiced by the posthuman intelligences of the inner system. Manfred, Pamela, and Annette are present in various forms. Bailiffs -sent enforcement constructs-arrives to “repossess” Amber and Aineko, but a scheme is hatched to the Slug is introduced to Economics 2.0 , which keeps both constructs very busy.
8 “Elector”
September 2004
In the most populated Saturnian Floating Cities, Amber, Annette, Gianni and Manfred begin a political campaign to finance a scheme to escape the predictions of the “Vile Offspring” by dayneying an ounce network, with Amber as the leader of the ” Accelerationista “party. She loses the election (to the stay-at-home “conservationist” faction), but once more the Lobsters step in to help, by offering passage to uploads on their large ships.
9 “Survivor”
October 2004
In the centuries following the singularity, the router has, once again, been reached. Learning from it, the refugees have created their own network, enabling them to explore vast distances. Habitats built around Hyundai are home to copies that, including child-clones. Aineko returns to make Manfred an offer that, if he accepts it, will result in Aineko leaving them alone forever.

Allusions / references to contemporary science

The novel contains numerous allusions to real-world scientific concepts and individuals, including:

  • The lobster stomatogastric ganglion (STG) [5] [6] [7] [8]
  • Rubberized concrete [9]
  • The Fermi paradox : Stross offers a solution to the paradox, claiming that the apparent lack of intelligent life in the universe is an illusion created by a shortage of bandwidth (see information theory ).
  • The Menger sponge
  • The Austrian roboticist and futurist Hans Moravec , who is here
  • Quantum state vectors
  • The nanoassembly conformational problem [10]
  • Langford Fractals, gold basilisks
  • Ken Thompson’s compile hack [11]
  • Penrose tiling
  • A Dyson sphere and its variants
  • Airgel

Awards and nominations

Accelerando won the 2006 Locus Award for Best Novel Science Fiction, [1] and the 2010 Estonian SF Award for Best Translated Novel of 2009. [12] Additionally, the novel was shortlisted for several other awards, including:

  • 2005 BSFA award [2]
  • 2006 Hugo Award for Best Novel [1]
  • 2006 Arthur C. Clarke Award [1]
  • 2006 John W. Campbell Memorial Award [1]

Individual short stories

The original short story “Lobsters” (June 2001) was shortlisted for:

  • 2002 Hugo Award for Best Novelette
  • Nebula Award for Best Novelette
  • Theodore Sturgeon Award

The original short story “Halo” (June 2002) was shortlisted for:

  • 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novelette
  • Theodore Sturgeon Award

The original short story “Router” (September 2002) was shortlisted for:

  • 2003 BSFA Award

The original short story “Nightfall” (April 2003) was shortlisted for:

  • 2004 Hugo Award for Best Novelette

The original short story “Elector” (September 2004) was shortlisted for:

  • 2005 Hugo Award for Best Novella

Release details

  • Ace (US), hardcover, July 2005, ISBN  0-441-01284-1
  • Ace (US), paperback, July 2006, ISBN  0-441-01415-1
  • Orbit (UK), hardcover, August 2005, ISBN  1-84149-390-2
  • Orbit, UK, paperback, June 2006, ISBN  1-84149-389-9

Online versions

  • The original short story Elector (September 2004) is available at Asimov’s Science Fiction . [13]
  • A searchable SiSU version of the complete novel is available in multiple formats. [14]
  • ManyBooks version with format selection is also available. [15]
  • Charles Stross also makes epub, mobi, aportis and rtf versions of Accelerando available for download from his blog. [16]

See also

  • Singularity Sky , another Stross novel dealing with a singularity
  • Iron Sunrise , the sequel to Singularity Sky
  • Post-scarcity
  • Technological singularity
  • Transhumanism
  • copyleft


  1. ^ Jump up to:f “2006 Award Winners & Nominees” . Worlds Without End . Retrieved 26 July 2009 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:b “2005 Award Winners & Nominees” . Worlds Without End . Retrieved 27 July 2009 .
  3. Jump up^ Charles Stross,On beginnings …, Charlie’s Diary, June 10, 2005.
  4. Jump up^ “Crib sheet: Accelerando – Charlie’s Diary” . . Retrieved 2014-07-15 .
  5. Jump up^ “STG Overview” . . Retrieved 2014-07-15 .
  6. Jump up^ “Dopaminergic Modulation of Inhibitory Glutamate Receptors in the Lobster Stomatogastric Ganglion | Journal of Neurophysiology” . 1997-12-01 . Retrieved 2014-07-15 .
  7. Jump up^ “Mechanisms underlying pattern generation in lobster stomatogastric ganglion as determined by selective inactivation of neurons identified I. Pyloric system” . Journal of Neurophysiology . 1980-12-01. doi : 10.1152 / jn.00066.2014 . Retrieved 2014-07-15 .
  8. Jump up^ “Stomatogastric ganglion” . Scholarpedia. 2007-07-29 . Retrieved 2014-07-15 .
  9. Jump up^ “Crumb Rubber Concrete” . 2012-12-15 . Retrieved 2014-07-15 .
  10. Jump up^
  11. Jump up^ “Classic ACM: Reflections on Trusting Trust” . Archived from the original on 2012-05-25 . Retrieved 2014-07-15 .
  12. Jump up^ I get mail, from Stross’s blog, posted 2 November 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2010.
  13. Jump up^ Willie Garcia. ” ” Elector “by Charles Stross” . . Retrieved 2014-07-15 .
  14. Jump up^ “SiSU manifest: Accelerando” . . Retrieved 2014-07-15 .
  15. Jump up^ “Accelerando by Charles Stross – Free eBook” . 2005-06-17 . Retrieved 2014-07-15 .
  16. Jump up^ Accelerando. “Accelerando – Charlie’s Diary” . . Retrieved 2014-07-15 .

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