Welcome to the fracturedfuture, at the dusk of the twenty-first century.
Earth has a population ofroughly a billion hominids. For the most part, they are happy with their lot.Those who are unhappy have emigrated, joining the swarming densethinker cladesthat fog the inner solar system with a dust of molecular machinery so thick itobscures the sun.
The splinterymetaconsciousness of the solar system has largely sworn off its pre-post-humancousins dirtside, but its minds sometimes wander … and when that happens, itcasually spams Earth’s networks with plans for cataclysmically disruptivetechnologies that emulsify whole industries, cultures, and spiritual systems. Asane species would ignore these get-evolved-quick schemes, but there’s alwayssomeone who’ll take a bite from the forbidden apple.
So until the overmindsbore of stirring Earth’s anthill, there’s Tech Jury Service: random humans,selected arbitrarily, charged with assessing dozens of new inventions andruling on whether to let them loose. Young Huw, a technophobic, misanthropicWelshman, has been selected for the latest jury, a task he does his best toperform despite an itchy technovirus, the apathy of the proletariat, and acouple of truly awful moments on bathroom floors.
The Rapture of the Nerds is a brilliant collaboration by Cory Doctorow andCharles Stross, two of the defining personalities of post-cyberpunk sciencefiction.