[ExI] Neptune's Brood

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Fri Oct 4 03:46:06 UTC 2013

I read it too, and I did enjoy it, although with some reservations:
Charlie seems to have developed an obsessive hostility towards
Christianity, which pervades all of his recent books, starting with
the Laundry series (very good, all of them) and stretching all the way
to the far-future world of robots in Neptune's Brood. I am as good an
atheist as any, but I have over the years lost any grudges against
Christianity that I might have harbored earlier. Charlie doesn't
revile religion in general but rather concentrates on this one faith,
and in today's world this smacks too much of kicking someone who is
lying on the ground already. I find it mildly off-putting.

Also, while I understand the need for the literary device of
implausible limitations of future progress, I dislike it. Neptune's
Brood is predicated on the existence of fundamental limits on
intelligence, which are completely implausible given our current
knowledge, yet without such limits it is difficult to tell a story of
human-like protagonists in the far future where, by any extrapolation
of current trends, non-human, and possibly superhuman agents should be

At least Charlie explicitly states such limitations as a premise, and
kudos for that, he proves he is aware of the problem, but I don't like
it anyway: It's too much of a reverse deus ex machina, so to say, a
literary device banishing deities so as to keep the plot going.

On Thu, Oct 3, 2013 at 6:08 PM, David Lubkin <lubkin at unreasonable.com> wrote:
> I just finished Charlie Stross's transhumanist novel Neptune's Brood, set
> millennia after the events of his Heinleinesque Saturn's Children. I expect
> strange and novel from him. This fills the bill. I think it helps to
> understand
> three-phase commits and the uses of public-key encryption. I do, so it's
> hard to be sure how much sense it will make to someone who doesn't.
> The aspect I found most surprising is how many parallels I see to Cordwainer
> Smith's Norstrilia. A very different feel, and yet—
> My favorite line: "Unarchive the holy malware suite and prepare it for
> transmission."

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