Welcome to the fractured future, at the dusk of the twenty-first century.
Earth has a population of roughly a billion hominids. For the most part, they are happy with their lot, living in a preserve at the bottom of a gravity well. Those who are unhappy have emigrated, joining one or another of the swarming densethinker clades that fog the inner solar system with a dust of molecular machinery so thick that it obscures the sun.
The splintery metaconsciousness of the solar-system has largely sworn off its pre-post-human cousins dirtside, but its minds sometimes wander…and when that happens, it casually spams Earth's networks with plans for cataclysmically disruptive technologies that emulsify whole industries, cultures, and spiritual systems. A sane species would ignore these get-evolved-quick schemes, but there's always someone who'll take a bite from the forbidden apple.
So until the overminds bore of stirring Earth's anthill, there's Tech Jury Service: random humans, selected arbitrarily, charged with assessing dozens of new inventions and ruling on whether to let them loose. Young Huw, a technophobic, misanthropic Welshman, has been selected for the latest jury, a task he does his best to perform despite an itchy technovirus, the apathy of the proletariat, and a couple of truly awful moments on bathroom floors.
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Doctorow (Little Brother) and Stross (Rule 34) take a comic tour of a post-Singularity solar system where posthumans dump digital junk on the "pre-posthumans" who cling to terrestrial life. Huw Jones, a Welsh potter abandoned by parents who ascended to the interplanetary smartcloud, receives a summons for jury service, where he will decide what of the posthumans' donations is worth taking and what's too dangerous to touch. He soon falls into a "flash conspiracy" involving a hanging judge in a Dalek-like wheelchair, a wannabe transhuman, and a sybaritic conspiracy theorist. Huw is chased to North America, where he becomes female with stereotype-laden results, dodges fundamentalists and intelligent anarchist ants, and is unexpectedly uploaded and made the solar system's ambassador to the ominous galactic Authority. Moving at light speed with a light touch, the novel mixes up a frothy cocktail of technological speculation and a wide variety of geeky in-jokes (unobtanium, Vogon poetry, "all the way up to 11").