An economic space opera about post-human descendants who have spread throughout the galaxy! Krina Alizond-114, a metahuman, is a trained historian specializing in banking, and is en-route to a the mysterious water-world of Shin-Tethys, where she hopes to find clues about her missing sister. She manages to catch a working gig on the Church of the Fragile ship (a religion dedicated to transporting around the remains of the human race), on the way encountering pirates who are also insurance underwriters, not to mention the assassin tailing her.
Stross has created a new breed of sci-fi in which financial theory and ponzi schemes dominate and move the plot, and I find it a very interesting and modern twist on the genre. Money is divided into three categories: fast money is essentially cash; medium money represent assets that are difficult to liquidate quickly, which includes real estate; and slow money, which is the sort of money that’s so far away and difficult to liquidate that’s it’s in another solar system. The entire economy is structured on space travel that hasn’t been able to cross the FTL barrier.
Krina, though she isn’t human, is easy to empathize with, because her down-to-earth personality is reflected in the dry jokes sprinkled throughout accounting lectures she is constantly offering the reader. At times, though, these frequent lectures slowed down the pacing, and I even might have reached my personal limit for banking in fiction. That being said, the book is full of suspense, explosions, and chase scenes, so it’s a good mix. Despite the abrupt ending and pacing issues, I think this one deserves 4 stars based on it’s speculative enterprise into a different kind of story.
Recommended for any scifi fan in need of something new, or any someone more inclined toward business that is looking for a gateway book into the world of hardcore science fiction.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that every interstellar colony in search of good fortune must be in need of a banker.”