RAND, Rand and Accelerando

Just a few things of interest:

  • Profits of fear — Boing Boing has Charles Platt’s story about Sam Cohen, inventor of “the most moral weapon ever invented”…the neutron bomb. A fascinating look at nuclear hysteria, the Cold War and (of course) the military-industrial complex.
  • Evicting Politics — JTK makes an interesting observation:
    I find it striking that Rand’s great protagonists were inventors and businessmen, yet her admirers tend to focus almost exclusively on rational evangelism. The most powerful model for collective action appropriate to individualists is business, yet business gets short shrift from libertarians as a means for curtailing the state – they tend to devote themselves instead to collective political movements.
    Josh brings up the usual objection in the comments: “you won’t get liberty if your neighbours want you to be enslaved, no matter the number of gadgets you have”, but Kennedy rightly points out that this argument doesn’t fly:
    Few people primarily want to enslave you, they want something else and they think enslaving you is the only or easiest way to get it. When enslaving you is more expensive than it’s worth they lose interest in enslaving you.
  • Accelerando — Charles Stross’ new novel is available for free download in a variety of formats with the blessings of his publisher. Both Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise were excellent and the first chapter of Accelerando, published separately as the short story “Lobsters,” is quite good as well, so I have high hopes for Stross’ latest effort (GR: definitely check it out). As in Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise, one of the major themes of Accelerando is the social impact of a technological singularity, which is a fascinating topic.

    Incidentally, Stross is doing this as a “marketing exercise”; he wants to see what impact (if any) releasing a free version online has on his sales figures. Apparently the initial results “look promising.” In the interests of helping him to keep track of how many people are reading the free version (and, hopefully, to convince his publisher to allow him to offer future novels as free downloads), consider reading the HTML unless you really prefer plain text or PDF.

2 Responses to “RAND, Rand and Accelerando”

  1. George Potter Says:

    Heya shonk. I snagged that sucker as soon as it went online, being a big fan of the first few stories. I enjoyed it, but had the same problem I always have with ‘singularity’ fiction: I lose interest in the characters after they become digital. Accelerando is saved because of Stross’ great sense of humor.

    And speaking of Rand and Stross, from ‘Troubadour’:

    “We are sorry to have bothered you,” the man with the card says stiffly. He replaced it in his jacket pocket. “If you should see Manfred Macx, tell him that the Copyright Control Association of America advises him to cease and desist from his attempt to assist music thieves and other degenerate mongrel second-hander enemies of Objectivism. Reputations only of use to those alive to own them. Goodbye.”

  2. shonk Says:

    Interesting. One of the things I liked about Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise was that they weren’t so much about upload cultures, as about regular humans trying to deal with wacky (Singularity Sky) and malevolent (Iron Sunrise) upload cultures.

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