In Medias Res | Throwing Myself Against A Technological Wall


What just happened?

Right: Charles Stross’ Lobsters happened.

Lobsters is a short story I’m reading for my World Literature/Sci-fi class. It’s about this guy named Manfred, who feels morally obligated to help an A.I. defect the human population because they are the uploaded brains of lobsters. (And are therefore sentient beings who have feelings and are confused about, you know, the existence of concrete, being originally a crustacean.)

Yeah, so this is a computer.
Yeah, so this is a computer.

Confused yet? Well it’s about to get weirder.

All people, it seems, are walking computers, their life connected to their personal website. Somehow, they get bandwidth directed at their physical being, which somehow gives them headaches when they get slashdotted.

In addition to human turned websites and lobsters turned A.I.s, there are robotic cats, the IRS, talking showers, and the impending singularity.

Throw in a bunch of “current events” that are incongruent to present day, a dominatrix ex-fiance (because why not?) and the fact that Stross shoves you into this world with absolutely no explanation of what is going on, and you’ve hit the technological wall.

Seriously, I’ve been googling thinks like “slashdotting”, “vCard”, “rubberized concrete”, “petaflop”, “Dyson sphere” and who knows what else since I started reading.

This may be why I haven’t gone so far into the sci-fi genre. Though, this is only the third story I’ve read for this class (the others being Nine Billion Names of God and I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream) (The latter really deserves its own post…) so I’m prepared to fall deeply in love with sci-fi over the course of the next few months.

But not with this story. The world of Lobsters is surrounded by a technological wall five feet thick. And I’m tired of banging my head against it.

Have you ever given up on a story because the world-building was so closed off? Let me know in the comments below!


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