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Accelerando by Charles Stross (if you give a mouse a cookie read aloud PDF) 📖

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20 March 2022
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Accelerando by Charles Stross (if you give a mouse a cookie read aloud PDF) 📖
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Accelerando by Charles Stross (if you give a mouse a cookie read aloud PDF) 📖 brief summary

Accelerando by Charles Stross (if you give a mouse a cookie read aloud PDF) 📖 - description and summary, by Charles Stross, read for free online at the e-library uribrotv.com
parody of bacterial plasmid exchange, so fast that, by the time the windfall tax demands are served, the targets don't exist anymore, even though the same staff are working on the same software in the same Mumbai cubicle farms.

Welcome to the twenty-first century.

The permanent floating meatspace party Manfred is hooking up with is a strange attractor for some of the American exiles cluttering up the cities of Europe this decade - not trustafarians, but honest-to-God political dissidents, draft dodgers, and terminal outsourcing victims. It's the kind of place where weird connections are made and crossed lines make new short circuits into the future, like the street cafes of Switzerland where the pre Great War Russian exiles gathered. Right now it's located in the back of De Wildemann's, a three-hundred-year old brown cafe with a list of brews that runs to sixteen pages and wooden walls stained the color of stale beer. The air is thick with the smells of tobacco, brewer's yeast, and melatonin sp

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A novel by Charles Stross


Copyright (c) Charles Stross, 2005


Published by


Ace Books, New York, July 2005, ISBN 0441012841


Orbit Books, London, August 2005, ISBN 1841493902




Creative Commons License

Copyright (c) Charles Stross, 2005.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

Full terms and conditions at:






You are free to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work under

the following conditions:


* Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified

by the author or licensor.

* Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

* No Derivative Works. You may not alter, transform, or build upon

this work.

* For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the

license terms of this work.


If you are in doubt about any proposed reuse, you should contact the

author via:




For Feorag, with love


This book took me five years to write - a personal record - and would

not exist without the support and encouragement of a host of friends,

and several friendly editors. Among the many people who read and

commented on the early drafts are: Andrew J. Wilson, Stef Pearson, Gav

Inglis, Andrew Ferguson, Jack Deighton, Jane McKie, Hannu Rajaniemi,

Martin Page, Stephen Christian, Simon Bisson, Paul Fraser, Dave

Clements, Ken MacLeod, Damien Broderick, Damon Sicore, Cory Doctorow,

Emmet O’Brien, Andrew Ducker, Warren Ellis, and Peter Hollo. (If your

name isn’t on this list, blame my memory - my neural prostheses are



I mentioned several friendly editors earlier: I relied on the talented

midwifery of Gardner Dozois, who edited Asimov’s Science Fiction

Magazine at the time, and Sheila Williams, who quietly and diligently

kept the wheels rolling. My agent Caitlin Blasdell had a hand in it

too, and I’d like to thank my editors Ginjer Buchanan at Ace and Tim

Holman at Orbit for their helpful comments and advice.


Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who emailed me to ask when the

book was coming, or who voted for the stories that were shortlisted

for awards. You did a great job of keeping me focused, even during the

periods when the whole project was too daunting to contemplate.


Publication History


Portions of this book originally appeared in Asimov’s SF Magazine as

follows: “Lobsters” (June 2001), “Troubadour” (Oct/Nov 2001),

“Tourist” (Feb 2002), “Halo” (June 2002), “Router” (Sept 2002),

“Nightfall” (April 2003), “Curator” (Dec 2003), “Elector” (Oct/Nov

2004), “Survivor” (Dec 2004).



Part 1: Slow Takeoff

+ Lobsters

+ Troubadour

+ Tourist

Part 2: Point of Inflection

+ Halo

+ Router

+ Nightfall

Part 3: Singularity

+ Curator

+ Elector

+ Survivor

PART 1: Slow Takeoff

“The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting

than the question of whether a submarine can swim.”


- Edsger W. Dijkstra

Chapter 1: Lobsters

Manfred’s on the road again, making strangers rich.


It’s a hot summer Tuesday, and he’s standing in the plaza in front of

the Centraal Station with his eyeballs powered up and the sunlight

jangling off the canal, motor scooters and kamikaze cyclists whizzing

past and tourists chattering on every side. The square smells of water

and dirt and hot metal and the fart-laden exhaust fumes of cold

catalytic converters; the bells of trams ding in the background, and

birds flock overhead. He glances up and grabs a pigeon, crops the

shot, and squirts it at his weblog to show he’s arrived. The bandwidth

is good here, he realizes; and it’s not just the bandwidth, it’s the

whole scene. Amsterdam is making him feel wanted already, even though

he’s fresh off the train from Schiphol: He’s infected with the dynamic

optimism of another time zone, another city. If the mood holds,

someone out there is going to become very rich indeed.


He wonders who it’s going to be.




Manfred sits on a stool out in the car park at the Brouwerij ‘t IJ,

watching the articulated buses go by and drinking a third of a liter

of lip-curlingly sour gueuze. His channels are jabbering away in a

corner of his head-up display, throwing compressed infobursts of

filtered press releases at him. They compete for his attention,

bickering and rudely waving in front of the scenery. A couple of punks

- maybe local, but more likely drifters lured to Amsterdam by the

magnetic field of tolerance the Dutch beam across Europe like a pulsar

- are laughing and chatting by a couple of battered mopeds in the far

corner. A tourist boat putters by in the canal; the sails of the huge

windmill overhead cast long, cool shadows across the road. The

windmill is a machine for lifting water, turning wind power into dry

land: trading energy for space, sixteenth-century style. Manfred is

waiting for an invite to a party where he’s going to meet a man he can

talk to about trading energy for space, twenty-first-century style,

and forget about his personal problems.


He’s ignoring the instant messenger boxes, enjoying some

low-bandwidth, high-sensation time with his beer and the pigeons, when

a woman walks up to him, and says his name: “Manfred Macx?”


He glances up. The courier is an Effective Cyclist, all wind-burned

smooth-running muscles clad in a paean to polymer technology: electric

blue lycra and wasp yellow carbonate with a light speckling of anti

collision LEDs and tight-packed air bags. She holds out a box for him.

He pauses a moment, struck by the degree to which she resembles Pam,

his ex-fiance.


“I’m Macx,” he says, waving the back of his left wrist under her

bar-code reader. “Who’s it from?”


“FedEx.” The voice isn’t Pam’s. She dumps the box in his lap, then

she’s back over the low wall and onto her bicycle with her phone

already chirping, disappearing in a cloud of spread-spectrum



Manfred turns the box over in his hands: it’s a disposable supermarket

phone, paid for in cash - cheap, untraceable, and efficient. It can

even do conference calls, which makes it the tool of choice for spooks

and grifters everywhere.


The box rings. Manfred rips the cover open and pulls out the phone,

mildly annoyed. “Yes? Who is this?”


The voice at the other end has a heavy Russian accent, almost a parody

in this decade of cheap on-line translation services. “Manfred. Am

please to meet you. Wish to personalize interface, make friends, no?

Have much to offer.”


“Who are you?” Manfred repeats suspiciously.


“Am organization formerly known as KGB dot RU.”


“I think your translator’s broken.” He holds the phone to his ear

carefully, as if it’s made of smoke-thin aerogel, tenuous as the

sanity of the being on the other end of the line.


“Nyet - no, sorry. Am apologize for we not use commercial translation

software. Interpreters are ideologically suspect, mostly have

capitalist semiotics and pay-per-use APIs. Must implement English more

better, yes?”


Manfred drains his beer glass, sets it down, stands up, and begins to

walk along the main road, phone glued to the side of his head. He

wraps his throat mike around the cheap black plastic casing, pipes the

input to a simple listener process. “Are you saying you taught

yourself the language just so you could talk to me?”


“Da, was easy: Spawn billion-node neural network, and download

Teletubbies and Sesame Street at maximum speed. Pardon excuse entropy

overlay of bad grammar: Am afraid of digital fingerprints

steganographically masked into my-our tutorials.”


Manfred pauses in mid stride, narrowly avoids being mown down by a

GPS-guided roller blader. This is getting weird enough to trip his

weird-out meter, and that takes some doing. Manfred’s whole life is

lived on the bleeding edge of strangeness, fifteen minutes into

everyone else’s future, and he’s normally in complete control - but at

times like this he gets a frisson of fear, a sense that he might just

have missed the correct turn on reality’s approach road. “Uh, I’m not

sure I got that. Let me get this straight, you claim to be some kind

of AI, working for KGB dot RU, and you’re afraid of a copyright

infringement lawsuit over your translator semiotics?”


“Am have been badly burned by viral end-user license agreements. Have

no desire to experiment with patent shell companies held by Chechen

infoterrorists. You are human, you must not worry cereal company

repossess your small intestine because digest unlicensed food with it,

right? Manfred, you must help me-we. Am wishing to defect.”


Manfred stops dead in the street. “Oh man, you’ve got the wrong free

enterprise broker here. I don’t work for the government. I’m strictly

private.” A rogue advertisement sneaks through his junkbuster proxy

and spams glowing fifties kitsch across his navigation window - which

is blinking - for a moment before a phage process kills it and spawns

a new filter. He leans against a shop front, massaging his forehead

and eyeballing a display of antique brass doorknockers. “Have you

tried the State Department?”


“Why bother? State Department am enemy of Novy-SSR. State Department

is not help us.”


This is getting just too bizarre. Manfred’s never been too clear on

new-old old-new European metapolitics: Just dodging the crumbling

bureaucracy of his old-old American heritage gives him headaches.

“Well, if you hadn’t shafted them during the late noughties … “

Manfred taps his left heel on the pavement, looking round for a way

out of this conversation. A camera winks at him from atop a

streetlight; he waves, wondering idly if it’s the KGB or the traffic

police. He is waiting for directions to the party, which should arrive

within the next half hour, and this Cold War retread Eliza-bot is

bumming him out. “Look, I don’t deal with the G-men. I hate the

military-industrial complex. I hate traditional politics. They’re all

zero-sum cannibals.” A thought occurs to him. “If survival is what

you’re after, you could post your state vector on one of the p2p nets:

Then nobody could delete you -”


“Nyet!” The artificial intelligence sounds as alarmed as it’s possible

to sound over a VoiP link. “Am not open source! Not want lose



“Then we probably have nothing to talk about.” Manfred punches the

hang-up button and throws the mobile phone out into a canal. It hits

the water, and there’s a pop of deflagrating lithium cells. “Fucking

Cold War hangover losers,” he swears under his breath, quite angry,

partly at himself for losing his cool and partly at the harassing

entity behind the anonymous phone call. “Fucking capitalist spooks.”

Russia has been back under the thumb of the apparatchiks for fifteen

years now, its brief flirtation with anarchocapitalism replaced by

Brezhnevite dirigisme and Putinesque puritanism, and it’s no surprise

that the wall’s crumbling - but it looks like they haven’t learned

anything from the current woes afflicting the United States. The

neocommies still think in terms of dollars and paranoia. Manfred is so

angry that he wants to make someone rich, just to thumb his nose at

the would-be defector: See! You get ahead by giving! Get with the

program! Only the generous survive! But the KGB won’t get the message.

He’s dealt with old-time commie weak-AIs before, minds

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