by Charles Stross
an unabridged reading by Shondra Marie and Jared Doreck
playing time: approximately 70 Minutes / ISBN: 1-884612-46-6 / 1 CD
audible download price: $7.70
Manfred Macx comes up with ideas a that will make strangers rich. He does this for free. In return he has virtual immunity from the tyranny of cash. There are drawbacks. The IRS is investigating him because they don't believe his lifestyle can exist without racketeering. The Southern Baptists Conventions have denounced him as a minion of Satan. And his dominatrix left him for reasons he's uncertain on.
Manfred's on the road again, making strangers rich. It's a hot summer Tuesday and he's standing in the plaza in front of the Centraal Station with his eyeballs powered up and the sunlight jangling off the canal, motor scooters and kamikaze cyclists whizzing past and tourists chattering on every side. The square smells of water and dirt and hot metal and the fart-laden exhaust fumes of cold catalytic converters; the bells of trams ding in the background and birds flock overhead.
Let's just say it's a crying shame and leave it until later to explain why.
Manfred Macx is a patent junkie, spending his days dreaming up ideas that will make him rich, very rich indeed; patents them and offers them up to whomever for free. In doing so has shunned the want for cash, preferring to live off the generosity from his benefactors. Enter into this story, uploaded lobsters wanting to defect, investigations from the IRS and a dominatrix ex- girlfriend who works for said IRS and you've got yourself a hip post-cyberpunk tale.
With Lobsters, Charles "Charlie" Stross has set his stopwatch to just 70 minutes. In that time he's allowed to blast your senses with an array of images and visualizations and does so with perfect storytelling, skill and timing. Image after image explode onto your brain with the speed of a flashing strobe light. He throws away metaphors and similes as if he'd robbed the World Vocabulary bank. One after the other they hit you with delight and clarity until the end, and like all addictive tales, Lobsters leaves you a word junkie, aching for more.
There are two themes filtering through Stross' Lobsters. On one hand you have Manfred, a high octane, finger on the pulse, grab it before its gone guy, focused on the moment, on the idea and on the deal. Live for the moment. Then you have Stross, craftily ability to weave Manfred's ex-girlfriend into the story, bringing her subtle but very practical approach to the future. Is Manfred up for this latest and most challenging proposal of his life? It's a question we might all ask ourselves at one point through our lives.
The audio zips into your ears with ease. Both Jared Doreck and Shondra Marie deliver a fine production and tackle Stross' rapid image bursts with gusto. The folks at Infinivox can hold their heads high with this production and at $7.99 it's a pop!
Charlie Stross dips his toes in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Lovecraftian Horror and is part of the new generation of British Science Fictions writers that are taking the genre by the throat until it squeals. Living in Edinburgh his first short story The Boys appeared in the Science Fiction magazine, Interzone in 1987. Since then he has gone on to be nominated for a Hugo three times for recent novels.
So, is it a crying shame that he has still has not won a Hugo for one of his novels? No, it won't be long, I promise you that. He has already won one for his novella, The Concrete Jungle.
No, it's a crying shame that I have not yet heard more of his work.