Stross' novel follows several generations of the Macx family through the rapidly transforming, Internet-enabled global economy of the early twenty-first century to the human and transhuman populated worlds of the outer solar system a half century later. The saga begins with Macx patriarch Manfred, a freelance "venture altruist," giving away patentable high-tech ideas in exchange for endless handouts while looking forward to the day when nanotech-programmed smart matter surpasses humanity in intelligence and productivity. Fifteen years later, his adolescent daughter Amber is an indentured astronaut trolling the orbit of Jupiter, and by 2070, Sirhan is Amber's permanently space-bound offspring, paying witness to the fruits of his grandfather's early innovations as something ominous and nonhuman is systematically dismantling the planets from Pluto to Earth. Stross has his thumb squarely on the pulse of technology's leading edge and exults in extrapolating mere glimmers of ideas out to their mind-bending limits. His brilliant and panoramic vision of uncontrollably accelerating technology vaults him into the front rank of sf trailblazers, alongside Gibson and Stephenson, and promises to become a seminal work in the genre.