I remember reading a novella-length science fiction work for free on the internet within the last 5 years, but now I cannot find it after hours of searching despite remembering much of the plot, with probable amounts of memory corruption.

  • The first chapter opens with a human agent inserting into an authoritarian world with 20th century tech, and with the aid of comparatively advanced technology, the agent confronts the dictator, who reveals she instituted her regime to overload the upload mechanisms the absent AI overlords have put in place that upload minds at the moment of death for reasons unknown, to free the planet of AI influence. The agent kills the dictator and flees the planet.

  • Second Chapter

    One of the reigning "Super AI" calls in the agent, reveals that the upload mechanisms are in place on human worlds to feed the "Super AI"s with human mind states. It is then revealed that the center of known space is being taken over by incrementally better "Ultra AI"s, who do not need to feed on human minds and merely want to destroy all other forms of life. Then the AI coerces the human agent to broadcast his mindstate towards a planet that has gone dark on the edge of Ultra AI space, in order to investigate.

  • Third Chapter-(?)

    The agent is unspooled from the receiver and placed in a body, finding out that the local Super AI has gone insane (deciding to emulate the Egyptian god Anubis), and that humanity is either reduced to staying in the local "Rama"-like habitat, or being cold stored in orbit around a distant gas giant. Humanity is planning an uprising against the Super AI, uprises with the help of some undiscriminating grey goo and taking shelter from some very powerful radiation, and leaves the habitat while the habitat is consumed by the grey goo, and take over a passing Ultra AI(?) ship, transferring all the human mind states from cold storage to the ship, and set course for a world not yet colonized to live their lives without threat of control or annihilation from the AIs. The agent finds out that in the process of taking over the ship, a charge under his/her wing(?) since arriving had died: he/her can't handle it, and gouges his/her eyes out.

I know, a lovely ending, but probably part of the reason I remember the story. I remember reading some reviews specifically mentioning the ending, so it seems like the story shouldn't be hard to find as it has proven to be.

1 Answer 1


I believe you are looking for Charles Stross's Scratch Monkey

It is available courtesy of the author as a free e-book from many sources on-line:

and also in a dead-trees edition just a few years ago.

Good bit. Suspenseful, believable, immersive. Hard to put down.

  • Exactly it. I can't believe I missed that it was by Stross, thanks! Sep 15, 2014 at 0:53
  • Wow. I read the first part of that, not even knowing it was Stross. Now I may have to finish it.
    – John O
    Sep 15, 2014 at 21:50
  • dead-trees edition is...a book? Jan 26, 2015 at 20:05
  • 3
    @TomSterkenburg Yep. Printed on the pulped and dessicated bodies of once carefree and innocent young conifers on all likelihood. Jan 26, 2015 at 21:26
  • they deserved it Jan 26, 2015 at 21:55

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