Charles Stross: Accelerando (Case Study)

Authored by: Gerry Canavan

The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815351931
eBook ISBN: 9781351139885
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the revisionist cyberpunk treatment of the concept of the Singularity in Charles Stross’s novel Accelerando. Where a more traditional science-fictional exploration of the Singularity might emphasize the possibilities for human liberation in a post-work, post-suffering hypertechnologized utopia, Stross focuses instead on the ecological and economic implications of the transformative event, what he renames “the Vinge catastrophe.” As this chapter argues in its analysis of Accelerando, capitalism doesn’t meet its end with the Singularity, but rather reaches the moment of its perfection—and so the Singularity simply becomes the occasion for a new mode of hyperexploitation inimically hostile to the human, prosecuted by superintelligent computer agents whose actions we can neither comprehend nor effectively oppose.

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