Come, I will conceal nothing from you: one major reason why I bought Empire Games was for the amusement of watching Charlie Stross extricate this particular story line from the morass of pseudoscience and conspiracy theory that he originally drove it into. ‘Peak oil.’ ‘Aspartame causes brain damage in children.’ ‘Secret US nukes set up for domestic false-flag operations.’ ‘President Rumsfeld, master manipulator and Destroyer of Worlds*.’ It’s not nearly as bad as David Gerrold’s continuing inability to figure out how to get humanity to win the War Against the Chtorr**, but neither is it trivial. Fortunately, ‘alternate history’ can handle this sort of problem…
PS: I got it today because Amazon apparently doesn’t take Martin Luther King Day off. Which is fine, because Pool Day fell apart and I had to switch from two hours in a Panera Bread with a half hour in a Burger King, which meant that I needed something to free-and-easy read anyway.
PPS: If the above seems harsh, I would point this out: I bought the book anyway, hey? So who really won this exchange, in the end: me, or Charlie Stross?
*I am given to understand that Donald Rumsfeld found that one particularly funny.
**Gerrold can have this one for free: the Chtorr are the biological equivalent of Saberhagen’s Berserkers. No need to worry about the original creators showing up after the Chtorraforming is over; they all got eaten millennia ago. Seriously, that makes the problem infinitely more manageable.