“The Rapture of the Nerds” is the long-awaited post-singularity collaboration between acclaimed science fiction authors Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow. Throwing 500-word chunks of text back and forth, the two created a novel whose tone is rather humorous and lighthearted, while dealing with the issues people will have to face in an imagined future in which you are able to upload your consciousness into the “cloud”.
Describing such a world is a rather challenging task, of course, considering how alien it must be to a contemporary reader. The obvious solution, and the one chosen by the authors, is, of course, to narrate the story from the viewpoint of a technophobe, someone to whom all the changes brought about by the singularity are nearly as alien as they must be to the reader.
In the future depicted by Stross and Doctorow, the vast majority of people have uploaded their minds to the cloud. Huw, the main character, is one of the people that deliberately decided to stick to meatspace, for one reason or another.
The plot of this novel is far from outstanding. In fact, I had the impression that in large parts of the book, Huw was thrown into one random unpleasant situation after the other, often unable to get out of it on his (and, later, her) own. And yet, I found this to be a highly enjoyable, if challenging, read. Every single page is loaded with so many fascinating ideas, witty remarks, or posing interesting questions to think about, that the actual plot took a backseat for me. In particular, there are lot of clever ideas about how a society of uploaded minds might work, and what the consequences for the individual are who knowingly experiences “life” inside a software simulation.
A fascinating read, but also an idea overload. You’ll likely want to either take your time digesting this book, or revisit it after a while, having missed quite a bit during the first read.