Set a few years into the future, in Scotland, the main thrust of the story was a first-person narrative from a nerd/computer hacker who had used some plans he'd found on the Internet to build a nanotech device(?) which made him into a "god" with superhuman powers(?). The government spotted him almost immediately and used some sort of de-godding tech on him. Most of the story is told after his return to normality.

Others were living inside a dome(?) set up by other gods. At one point, a baby got infected with the technology and was refusing to be born, causing the mother intense pain (mention of it forming a black hole inside her?) Another character attempts to communicate with the baby.

I probably read this in a Dozois "best of" collection or something similar. It was a modern story, probably post-2005.

  • 2
    Sounds very Charles Stross, but I don't know the particular story.
    – The Photon
    Apr 5, 2020 at 17:04
  • Yeah, the Scots setting immediately made me think of Rule 34 (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_34_(novel)) but that's a bit more grounded.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Apr 5, 2020 at 18:47
  • 1
    Huh, funny, apparently the concept of nanotechnology was invented in Scotland around 1871...
    – FuzzyBoots
    Apr 5, 2020 at 18:54
  • Makes me think of that Pratchett book about the gods who gain power by having worshippers. Obviously not relevant, though. Apr 6, 2020 at 13:17
  • @Fivesideddice - Not even slightly close in terms of writing style. This was more hackerpunk. Stross is similar in style
    – Valorum
    Apr 6, 2020 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


This looks like "Deus Ex Homine" by Hannu Rajaniemi. It was collected in Gardner Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction Twenty-Third Annual Collection, in 2006, which fits your timeframe.

It matches most of your points, as quotes from the story illustrate:

Set in Scotland:

The quiet in Pittenweem is deeper than it should be, even for a small Fife village by the sea. The plague is bad here in the north, beyond Hadrian’s Firewall, and houses hide behind utility fog haloes.

(Pittenweem is a village in Scotland)

Main character is a hacker who used plans on the internet to become a god:

“I was a quacker,” I say slowly, “a quantum hacker. And when the Fish-source came out, I tinkered with it, just like pretty much every geek on the planet. And I got mine to compile: My own Friendly AI slave. Idiot-proof supergoal system, just designed to turn me from a sack of flesh into a Jack Kirby New God, not to harm anybody else. Or so it told me.”

I grimace. “My external nervous system took over the Helsinki University of Technology’s supercomputing cluster in about thirty seconds. It got pretty ugly after that.”

“But you made it,” says Aileen, eyes wide.

“Well, back then, the Fish still had the leisure to be gentle. The starfish were there before anybody was irretrievably dead. It burned my AI off like an information cancer and shoved me back into—” I make a show of looking at myself. “Well, this, I guess.”

Baby causing a wormhole in mother's stomach:

“Yes, Inverness was like a giant Tetris game. Nerds and machines did it. And so we killed them. And do you know what else we saw? Babies. Babies bonded with the godplague. Babies are cruel. Babies know what they want: food, sleep, for all pain to go away. And that’s what the godplague gives them. I saw a woman who’d gone mad, she said she’d lost her baby and couldn’t find it, even though we could see that she was pregnant. My angel looked at her and said that she had a wormhole in her belly, that the baby was in a little universe of its own. And there was this look in her eyes, this look—”

And communicating with a (possibly different) baby:

And then we see the baby.

It is bald and naked and pink, and a hair-thin silver umbilical hangs from its navel. Its eyes are green like Aileen’s, but their gaze is mine. It floats in the air, its perfect tiny toes almost touching the water.


“You only know how to kill gods. I know how to talk to them.” I look at my—son, says the little wrinkly thing between its legs—and take a step towards him. I remember what it’s like, having all the power in the world. There’s a need that comes with it, a need to make things perfect.

“I know why you brought us here,” I say.

  • Definitely it. And now I remember why it was particularly memorable, having been to Pittenweem in my younger days. Literally the most boringest place in the entire world.
    – Valorum
    Apr 6, 2020 at 18:53

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