Neptune's Brood - Charles Stross

This seems to be set in the same universe as Saturn's Children, but otherwise unrelated. Humans are gone, replaced with human-like synthetic life better adaptable to space and alien environments. The protagonist has just had her mind state beamed into a different solar system (the usual way to get around without incredibly slow and expensive interstellar ships), on the hunt for her disappeared sibling, who was tracking down a lost fortune.

This is clearly a post-2008 story. It's about debt and financial crime. Post-humanity is not a post-scarcity society and everything's very capitalist. Except the happy communist squid colony thrown in, apparently as a contrast. It's a fun enough idea for a book, but just doesn't work well for me. The idea is that everything's driven by the interstellar debt associated with colonisation, and the cost of providing people (or rather, their mind states) for these efforts.

Except... these big, risky ventures are better driven by equity. Indeed, people getting involved in a start-up effort and taking risk for big future rewards through stock options is, well, well-established. Other people complain that the science in sci-fi isn't realistic. I complain that the finance in sci-fi isn't realistic.

Still, ignoring that, it's standard Stross. Compared to his other books, the protagonist is incredibly passive. Stuff just happens to her, and that's about it. Perhaps it's a commentary on agency in a capitalist society.

Posted 2016-06-11.