Charles Stross is one of those few sci-fi authors that manages to have characters interesting enough that I’m interested in the book even when the sci-fi in it is not really doing anything new. This is such a book.
This one is in the same world as Singularity Sky, which was amazing sci-fi and great characters. While Stross builds in the universe a bit, and there’s a couple of cool ideas (I rather liked the slower-than-light, 35-year mutually assured destruction deterrent), it didn’t blow me away like the previous book did. Eschaton is such an amazing idea/character/world element that I really wanted to see it be developed more. Instead, it’s coasting along the same successful formula. I wanted to see the agents sent back in time as confused as the characters they interact with: why, exactly, need they know everything Eschaton does? Instead, they’re almost deus-ex-machina omniscient, and never wrong, or confused. Kinda meh.
But let none of that detract from the fact that this is a quality book. Repeating a working recipe is nothing to be ashamed of, and this book works as well as the last. The characters are fun, the plot is twisted and interesting, and there’s enough bits of little cool sci-fi ideas sprinkled around to keep the nerd half of your brain interested.
I recommend it.