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Toast, and Other Stories

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  986 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Short story collection containing such gems as "Antibodies," "Bear Trap," "Extracts from the Club Diary," "A Colder War," "TOAST: A con report," "A Boy and His God," "Ship of Fools," "Dechlorinating the Moderator," "Yellow Snow," "Big Brother Iron," "Lobsters."
Paperback, 247 pages
Published December 13th 2005 by Cosmos Books (OH) (first published 2002)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  986 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Kara Babcock
Ever discover an author through another medium, like TV or Twitter or the author’s blog, and realize you want to read everything this author has written and you want to read it yesterday? That’s how I feel about Charles Stross. It’s similar to my evaluation of William Gibson in my last review; Stross writes about the present changes facing humanity in such an interesting way. I don’t always agree with him, and his stories don’t always grab me as narratives, but he is definitely near the top of t ...more
Miloš Petrik
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Basically a Stross 101: ten stories, all good, all concepts more or less expanded in his long form works.
A collection of stories and commentary. One of the more remarkable things it contains is the story "A Colder War." Basically take the Reagan era cold war and mix in the Cthulhu mythos. It is a chilling story.
Chris "Stu"
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
This is a book of short stories, so it's hard to give it a single review, because all the stories are of different quality. But there's an underlying theme to all the stories. Stross himself in the introduction describes them all as "outdated" stories. That is, they're science fiction stories that illustrate where science fiction story-writing was at some point in the past, showing outdated fears of their day. So the cyberpunk story is VERY dated, as is the Y2K story. However, the best story of ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Not much impressed. The essay at the beginning is interesting, but none of the stories really grab me. I don't much care for Lovecraftian horror, and the 1984-fanfic of 'Big Brother Iron' is misguided at best. Come to that, there's far too many techie terms, as if its written mainly for the amusement of bored sysadmins. 'Lobsters' is kind of interesting, to be fair
Caleb Smith
Jan 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Random and intentionally outdated. These stories are sometimes tedious, but always interesting at their core.
Gonçalo Araújo
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very nice stories. Some of them are very amusing.
Christopher Sutch
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I came to this collection late in my Stross reading (mainly because I didn't know this book existed until one of his latest novels included it on his list of publications). Boy did I miss out on too much for too long! This was Stross's first book (though I read and am reviewing the expanded edition of 2006) and consists of stories he published between 1990 and 2001 (before his first novel). While most of the prose here lacks the polish and sophistication of Stross's latest work (these are very m ...more
Nicholas Whyte
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it

A collection of early Stross short stories, one of which ("Dechlorinating the Moderator", published in 1996) is actually set this coming Easter weekend, 30 March - 2 April 2018, in Maastricht which is not too far from here. The introduction, written with a decade or so of hindsight, is a very interesting insight into how Stross now feels about his own early fiction, and how the world has changed in ways which were and weren't imaginable last century. I
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished “Toast” by Charles Stross, which was his first published work. It is a collection of short stories that range from the pre-Laundry exploration of the Cthulu Mythos in modern times (A Colder War), to stories of the human race on the brink of the singularity. One can see the directions that his later works will take in these stories. Some are slightly dated, as is the fate of everything written about the near future. However, I found them all to be very readable and interesting. I ...more
Gregg Kellogg
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This shows the early genius of Stross. Lobsters, which formed the basis of Accelerando, was ahead of its time in so many ways. But, alas, with success comes repetition, at least in Science Fiction. I love the Laundry, Clan and other series he’s committed to, but it tends to focus him on what has worked before, and doesn’t stretch him to take new risks. I hope to see some new original work that breaks new ground in the future.
Kevin Trainor
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it
A mixed bag of short stories by Stross from early in his career. Some are good, some are amusing, some are annoying.
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Really dated, and not at all up to his newer work
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel, sf
His first album, with all the glad rough edges and density of new ideas that implies. Bunch of short stories showing off his range and introducing themes. About half are very good, though the others are becoming very dated as the last twenty years of tech and tech hype overtake his speculations.

Heady subversions of the Lovecraftian, the Clancyan, the techno-optimist, and the Doctorovian. The stories are also often silly and humane. His books sometimes receive symposia from eminent academics.

William Leight
Dec 08, 2013 rated it liked it
This collection of stories -- Stross's first published work -- opens with an introduction in which he explains that the rapid pace of technological change makes it almost impossible for near-future sci-fi writers to operate, as the real world may shortly render their work laughably obsolete. Perhaps this is why his next two novels were set in the post-Singularity future instead. At any rate, Stross's tendency towards techno-utopianism results in him getting a bit carried away: stories in which i ...more
Apr 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of the man
Recommended to Alan by: Subsequent work; Powell's City of Books
Toast is a collection of Charles Stross' earliest short stories—a glimpse into the origin myth of one of our most dazzling SF superheroes. As such, it felt a little awkward to read the way I did, long after I was exposed to his more polished later work, and a full decade after its initial publication (though the edition I picked up is actually the "2005 remix" according to the Afterword).

But the roots of those later works are here—you can see inklings of Stross' Laundry novels in "A Colder War,"
February Four
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
I've been trying to get over my distaste of Stross's books. I kept wondering: was it just the Laundry universe I just couldn't get into? Maybe if I try something else it'll be okay... so when my husband got a copy of Toast (long story, he didn't mean to because he doesn't really enjoy Stross either), I figured I'd give it one more shot.

I managed to finish two stories out of ten ("Antibodies" and "Bear Trap"). I just couldn't stand the rest. I'd read "Lobsters" a long time ago, and it's a one-sh
Tim Hicks
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Couldn't finish it, and I am a big Stross fan. OK, except for the later books in the Merchant series. But the Laundry more than makes up for that.

Anyway, I started with the Y2K story. I worked in the computer field then, and maybe the story was too close to home. But it seemed as dated as a gaslighter, and less interesting.

Picked a couple more, including the first one about mathematics. I have a maths degree and I still didn't like it. It felt stiff and over-geeky, like Cory Doctorow's stuff.
Jun 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, short-stories
This is a collection of fairly early short stories by Stross mostly united by the theme of the future passing them by. The vision that they were describing has already been overtaken, such as in Ship of Fools, which is about the Y2K bug.

Other stories stand up better, such as the one set in the Eschaton universe and his Lovecraft-inspired stories, particularly the whimsical A Boy and his God. Overall, this is a thought-provoking and enjoyable collection of stories, full of Big SF ideas and a goo
Jon Knight
An interesting collection of stories - the first rumble of a lot of themes that play on through his other work. Available for free on the author's website:

Probably mostly of interest to true-believing Strossian or those with an interest in the increasing difficulty of writing near future SF. The collection is built around the concept of the ageing of stories, but now even the 2005 afterword feels old!

May 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
some amazing short stories. mostly sci-fi, but treating various issues.

interestingly enough, my favorite story from the collection - lobsters - (available online, if you look around) kickstarts accelerando, a book i picked up tonight.
Jun 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a great introduction to Charles Stross's work. If you're already familiar with his other books, you'll pick up a lot more of the references that he makes, but even if you're not, you'll get a kick out if this. Three words: "Weapons-grade shoggoth".
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'll be honest, I'm giving the whole collection four stars just for the presence of "A Colder War." Not the the other stories aren't good, but that one stuck with me and still does, even though I read it a few years (okay, more than a decade) ago now.
May 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
great short story collection. better than his longer stories
Jun 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Really liked this look back over some relatively recent sci-fi that seams to be getting truer by the min.
Dec 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Pick a random sentence out of this book, and you'll likely find a viable business model which will earn you millions.
Jan 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks
A potluck of Stross stories. I'd read a couple before, but enjoyed them all.
Jul 16, 2010 rated it it was ok
I am not to crazy about Charles Stross' style. Sometimes it seems downright rambling. He can be very imaginative, but the style brings it down, IMHO. Very confusing at times.
Aug 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: sci-fi lovers, Cory Doctorow fans, computer nerds
An excellent collection of short stories. I was delighted to discover that all the stories were quite enjoyable (even if some of the content was outdated, it added to their charm).
Sep 10, 2011 rated it liked it

A nice collection of short stories, and a few laugh out loud gems among the dystopian 'were all gonna be killed by Cthulhu' mainstays
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Charles David George "Charlie" Stross is a writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. His works range from science fiction and Lovecraftian horror to fantasy.

Stross is sometimes regarded as being part of a new generation of British science fiction writers who specialise in hard science fiction and space opera. His contemporaries include Alastair Reynolds, Ken MacLeod, Liz Williams and Richard Morgan.


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