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Singularity Sky by Charles Stross

Singularity Sky (original 2003; edition 2005)

by Charles Stross

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2,467522,485 (3.7)48
Title:Singularity Sky
Authors:Charles Stross
Info:Orbit (2005), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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Singularity Sky by Charles Stross (2003)

  1. 15
    Dune by Frank Herbert (hyper7)
    hyper7: Singularity Sky could have been set in the Dune universe.

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Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
This book is jam-packed full of great scifi ideas, and for those I would give it 4 stars. Everything from relativity to biotechnology to a touch of steampunk maybe.

But I found the first third or so dragged, and the ideas perhaps crowded out the characters a little, so that lowers the rating a bit. I did enjoy it however - at times it remind me of Red October, at times Douglas Adams' humour, both good things.

An aside to the publishers: The edition I read (which might not be the latest one, I think it's a year or two since it was purchased) was littered with distracting mistakes - stray capitals, repeat letters, missing full stops. Not sure whether those were bugs from poor OCR, or perhaps it was an older draft not the final polished one, but I would appreciate better editing. Ebooks might be cheaper, but they're not free. ( )
  Jackdoor | Oct 31, 2017 |
My first attempt at reading a Stross novel was [b:Accelerando|17863|Accelerando|Charles Stross|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1309198110s/17863.jpg|930555]. I abandoned it after about 50 pages, we just did not get along. I had some problems with the prose style, the characters and the confusing plot. Still, I have always intended to give this author another try as I have been reading his blog for a while and I like them, no problem with the writing style there. Also, he is one of the most respected sf authors of the newer generation working today. He comes highly recommended by David Brin and others.

I have always been interested in the subject of singularity, especially as a science fiction theme. As mentioned earlier I attempted to read Accelerando and failed miserably. Happily I found Singularity Sky much more to my liking, and shed much light upon the ramifications of the singularity for me. The story is set in a post singularity universe where a posthuman species called the Eschaton wield God-like power and scattered a vast proportion of the human race to the four winds, across space and time on planets light years apart forcing said human to colonize wherever they are placed. The story starts when a totalitarian and backward human colonies is visited by a transhuman race called Festival. The Festival offer the colonist absolutely anything they want in exchange for "entertainment" in the form of stories, philosophies, jokes or any information they find interesting. The goods they give in exchange for "entertainment" are produced by "cornucopia" machines which remind me of the nanotechnological assemblers from Neal Stephenson's [b:The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer|827|The Diamond Age|Neal Stephenson|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1320415915s/827.jpg|2181158]. As anything can be had practically just for the asking, the planet quickly reaches an economic singularity where possession, employment, property and commerce is no longer meaningful.

This is a fascinating scenario where a single event causes huge planet wide changes, and it is just the tip of the iceberg where outlandish scifi ideas are concerned. Including a question of human sapience, where a posthuman creature hilariously poses the question of whether humans are "zombies or zimboes?", not to mention the Eschaton outlawing of "causality violation" which is basically cheating by time travel via Faster Than Light technology. A lot of the hard science went right over my head but it did not hamper understanding the plot as far as I can tell.

The writing style is somewhat workmanlike for the most part, but enriched by some witty dialog. The main characters are likable without being particularly noteworthy. While not an "sf comedy" the book does have a lighthearted feel to it. The whole endeavor is worth about 4.5 stars for me.

The next Stross book I read will most likely be [b:The Atrocity Archives|6043022|The Atrocity Archives|Charles Stross|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348571460s/6043022.jpg|322252] which looks like a hoot. I may get back to Accelerando once I have accumulated sufficient goodwill for Mr. Stross. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
I liked that he actually grappled with the glaring hole in wide-screen space opera: causality violation caused by faster than light travel. Very little science fiction does...and that's fine if the author is just saying, "Hey, totally suspend reality for a while." However, a lot of hard science fiction actually wants you to believe the science is real or possible as an extension of the physics we know and, yet, neglects this. So, kudos to Stross for this.

On the other hand, there was just something about the main characters that seemed a trifle teenager-ish despite their advanced ages; they didn't ring quite true to me.

I'm still trying to decide what I think about Alice in Wonderland meets the Russian Revolution meets Baba Yaga... ( )
1 vote TadAD | Sep 9, 2015 |
There seems to be an uncomfortable amount of bashing the Russian Revolution in the themes found here. A brittle authoritarian monarchy with a deep distrust of post-industrial technology is confronted by an external visitor that turns everything in their society on its head with a deluge of free information. When undercover agents from a freer, more liberal and technologically advanced society insert themselves into the military response, it’s hard not to think of cold war cat-and-mouse thrillers. To make the parallels completely undeniable, Stross has loaded the Soviet-style civilization (ironically named the New Republic) with Eastern European surnames. There’s not a lot of surprises in the plot, however, as the adversaries are so overwhelmingly mismatched. The rigid commanders of the New Republic refuse to realize this, so the reader is treated to a very rapid illustration of a society entering into a technological singularity. Here, I was reminded a bit of Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels where the practically omnipotent Culture society often comes into well-meaning conflict with it’s mortal neighbors. There were also some intriguing possibilities brought up regarding FTL travel and its implications on Causality, as well as some practical economic effects resulting from cheap nano fabricators. Separately, a lot of these ideas are explored in other Space Opera books, but they came together nicely here and serve as a reminder of what foundations must be in place before certain technologies safely come into a society’s grasp. ( )
  SciFi-Kindle | Mar 12, 2015 |
  ngunity | Nov 23, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Strossprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ducak, DaniloCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibbons, LeeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The day war was declared, a rain of telephones fell clattering to the coblestones from the skies above Novy Petrograd.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441011799, Mass Market Paperback)

Four hundred years in the future, time travel has been perfected and groundbreaking developments in Artificial Intelligence have been made. But is this a great step forward for humanity--or its ultimate downfall?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:21 -0400)

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"In the twenty-first century, life as we know it was changed forever by two events: the discovery of faster-than-light travel and the creation of the Eschaton, an artificial intelligence that achieved independent sentience. Four hundred years later, the far-flung human colonies that arose as a result of these two extraordinary occurrences are scattered over three thousand years of time, across a thousand parsecs of space." "One such colony, the New Republic, exists in self-imposed isolation. Founded by men and women suffering from an acute case of future shock, the member-planets wanted no part of the Eschaton or the technological advanced that followed its creation." "But their backward ways are severely compromised when they are attacked by an information plague that calls itself The Festival. As advanced technologies suppressed for generations begin literally to fall from the sky, the colony slips into revolutionary turmoil. Help is on the way, however, in the form of a battle fleet dispatched from Earth." "Or is it? Secret plans, hidden agendas, and ulterior motives abound, both on the rescue ships and among the populace of the beleaguered colony." "And watching it all is the Eschaton, which has its own very definite ideas about mankind's future..."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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