Reading: Charles Stross — Neptune’s Brood

Excitement! Not only a new science-fiction, it’s a new Charles Stross, and it’s one set in the universe of Saturn’s Children (which I’ve read I think three times), and hardback with the UK cover (as much as I like porn, I prefer my sci-fi sans use of gratuitous nekkid female bodies that have nothing to do with the story, and the US cover makes me embarrassed to read).

I picked it up from Shakespeare & Co. in the first district, then peddled to Café Prückel for a Große Braun and an hour or so of very, very enjoyable reading. I’m strenuously pacing myself, because it’s also going to be my back-to-Berlin by train reading, and I don’t want to find myself bending the back cover when I’ve got five hours to go of clickity-clack.

Now that dear Iain M. Banks is too busy being dead to write, my triumvirate of skiffy writers has taken quite a dent. There are possible newcomers, depending on what they write next, but my annual cycle filled with Banks, Stross, and Mieville is finished, and as much I love Stross, I love some of him more than others. His Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise are two of my favourites, but sadly he’s said several times he won’t return to that universe due to some world-building issues he thinks are terminal. Saturn’s Children then, is my next favourite universe — yes, even more than the Laundry Files or Halting State series.

The politics and intellectual qualities of these three writers certainly contribute substantially to why I always read them and why they dependably often appear at the top of my favourite books of the year, and of these qualities it’s their conscious commitment to feminist and somehow queer politics that I like the most. Saturn’s Children dealt with this, not merely because the protagonist was nominally female (saying what is female is elusive enough with humans, let alone with synthetic organisms), and Neptune’s Brood continues this, with the added brilliance of considering David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years, which should be compulsory reading.

Thirty or so pages in and I’m really holding myself back from buying large blocks of chocolate and holing up in bed for a couple of days and knocking this off in one protracted binge; addiction reading at its best.