Most of the things I write in here have some nostalgic component to them. If you know me in real life, you will see how much of my life has been colored by Sci-Fi. It isn't a tale of desperation, grievance, anger, or even drama. It is a tale of a young man whose dreams transcended the technology of the day. A person who is Earthbound and trapped in a fragile coil that harbors neither superpowers or the technological capacity to build a starship. I once had someone tell me that fiction was escapism. And for the longest time, that sentiment angered me. Until one I realized I simply felt sorry for that person. How small must a person be to lash out with someone for imagining or dreaming a time beyond their own? How devoid of dreams must they be? But it wasn't until the advent of the Cyberpunk age that I began to find the true expression of what was in my geeky little hear. It took two of the things I loved the most Punk culture and near-futuristic machines and dynamics and joined them together.
It started for me with "Neuromancer" by William Gibson, and "Street Lethal" by Steven Barnes. And over the next fifteen or so years, I diligently mined the local bookstores for new releases in the sub-genre.
In truth William Gibson had no idea what he was writing was "Cyberpunk". He asserted in an interesting interview with Mark Dery some years later that it was a name given to his work by publishing houses. I'm ok with that. Giving it a name; giving it that name, associated my own voice and my own dreams with the things GIbson wrote. I loved Gibson, Williams, Barnes. But I couldn't love them forever. The books simply weren't coming fast enough for me to stay in love with them. And as the years wore on, they went in directions I simply became less interested in. (One of the problems of co-dependency). I stopped reading those authors for a while. I came across "Halo" by Tom Maddox which was free online for a while and an unexpectedly pleasant injection of Cyberpunk-esque writing and aesthetic. But it wasn't until around 2010 (I know, I was slow) that a former Professor of mine, and mentor, mentioned Charles Stross to me. He just said "Accelerando" and "You gotta read it.".
I went and bought the book that day. It was lengthy. But I read it in a weekend, not bothering to do anything else like shower or go out with my girlfriend. It was more than I expected, and in fact, the term "Cyberpunk" seemed far too small a word for it. Certainly, it had many of the trappings of what we call Cyberpunk, but it was far smarter than the word, far more nuanced than the genre. But somehow it seemed a natural inheritor of that legacy. Perhaps Cyberpunk is dead and this is some evolutionary descendant; a mutation that is smarter and stronger than its ancestors. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Mr. Stross has made this book and other works of fiction available for free on his website. Please go there and download it and read it. Also please observe the copyright information he has provided regarding Creative Commons and abide by them. Mr. Stross also has a comments section which he appears to respond and engage with his readers. We hope you enjoy this one. I did! You can download the books by going here. They are available in multiple digital formats. And if you enjoy the book you should purchase any one of the several books Mr. Stross has written. Even if you don't enjoy "Accelerando" it is highly likely you will find something by him that you will. And what better way to support an author than buying his or her books!
Here is a brief synopsis of the book:
"The book is a collection of nine short stories telling the tale of three generations of a highly dysfunctional family before, during, and after a technological singularity. It was originally written as a series of novelettes and novellas, all published in Asimov's Science Fiction magazine in the period 2001 to 2004. The first three stories follow the character of "venture altruist" Manfred Macx starting in the early 21st Century, the second three stories follow his daughter Amber, and the final three focus largely on her son Sirhan in the completely transformed world at the end of the century. "
Unlike some others around Fresh Pulp Magazine, I am not quite as much the Cyberpunk enthusiast. Don't get me wrong, I love the sub-genre, but it isn't my favorite and I am not one to fanboy out over a public sighting of William Gibson (sorry Bill, I do enjoy your work). There are a few books that have influenced me as a lover of Sci-Fi and fewer that have influenced me as a writer. I had not yet been introduced to Science Fiction when the first of these works appeared in 1982. And when I began reading in 1985, the second of the series had not yet been released. In fact, the five books, in total, took nearly 20 years for Rucker to complete. I still remain, perched, from the memory of those long intervals between releases, on the fence between love and hate for Mr. Rucker. Assuming each one was the last, I pined for more secretly and secretly loved Rudy when I learned another was to come. In retrospect, it was not knowing that drove me nearly to insanity.
Now we have a complete collection. Four books that Mr. Rucker has released under Creative Commons license, for free. It doesn't trouble me at all that I paid for mine and you don't have to. I am overjoyed at the idea that the low price might hasten you to download and read them. "The Ware Tetralogy" is one of the founding works of the Cyberpunk genre. Despite the fact that I am not a huge Cyberpunk fan, there is another element to the books that I found particularly noteworthy; the style. Rucker would later go on to pen an essay about his method for writing called "Transrealist Manifesto". You can read and download the manifesto here. Granted, "The Ware Tetralogy" are not considered to be among his "Transrealist" series, but his distinct style of writing is evident in all of his writing. William Gibson called Rucker " ... a natural born American Street Surrealist". I would highly recommend reading this manifesto, it is short and succinct.
One more work I would recommend for the Science Fiction writer and reader is a paid piece called "Surfing the Gnarl". The link can be found below. This book is really an extended interview with Rucker and it covers a broad range of topics and his thoughts on them. I am a firm believer that inspiration can be had not only from reading a writers work but getting a glimpse into their minds. After all Science Fiction is more than fantastical stories and teleological fetishes. And it is important to see what future some of these writers imagine.
I hope you enjoy binge reading "The Ware Tetralogy". You can download it here!