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Postsingular Hardcover – October 2, 2007

3.2 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Pandemic by Sonia Shah
"Beacon 23"
A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at beyond the speed of light. The beacons are built to be robust. They never fail. At least, they aren't supposed to. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Alt-cultural folk strive to save Earth from digitized doom in this novel from the prince of gonzo SF. A computer mogul's threat to replace messy reality with clean virtuality and by a memory-hungry artificial intelligence called the Big Pig propels nanotechnologist Ond Lutter, his autistic son, Chu, and their allies on an interdimensional quest for a golden harp, the Lost Chord, strung with hypertubes that can unroll the eighth dimension and unleash limitless computing power. Though he tries to unite the hard and the fuzzy sides of physics, Rucker (Mathematicians in Love) favors the flower power of San Francisco over the number crunching of Silicon Valley. His novel vibrates with the warm rhythms of dream and imagination, not the cold logic of programming (or, for that matter, plotting). Playing with the math of quantum computing, encryption and virtual reality, Rucker places his faith in people who find true reality gnarly enough to love. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

While less well known than William Gibson or Bruce Sterling, Rudy Rucker was one of the founders of the cyberpunk movement—science fiction with a grittier, dystopian turn. In Postsingular, Rucker explores the idea of the Singularity, a hypothetical point in the future where the combination of artificial intelligence and human enhancement will launch technological advance into an unprecedented overdrive. Reviewer (and fellow SF novelist) Paul DiFilippo writes that while the Singularity—the "Rapture of the nerds"—has become a common theme in science fiction, Rucker is one of the few writers who have sufficiently explored what it would be like to actually experience it. Then again, for novices to Rucker or the SF genre, Postsingular—each page, according to BoingBoing, "weirder than the last"—isn’t necessarily the place to start.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765317419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765317414
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,907,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rudy Rucker is a writer and a mathematician who spent 20 years as a Silicon Valley computer scientist. He's a contemporary master of science-fiction, and received the Philip K. Dick award twice. His 37 published books include novels and non-fiction books such as THE FOURTH DIMENSION. His cyberpunk series THE WARE TETRALOGY and his novel of the fourth dimension SPACELAND are favorites. His memoirs NESTED SCROLLS and ALL THE VISIONS offer uniquely skewed insights into our times. Recent books include COMPLETE STORIES and the novels TURING & BURROUGHS and THE BIG AHA. His recent reprint collection TRANSREAL TRILOGY includes his classic novels THE SECRET OF LIFE, WHITE LIGHT, and SAUCER WISDOM. And his latest title, TRANSREAL CYBERPUNK collects his nine stories with Bruce Sterling. More info at http://www.rudyrucker.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Postsingular is the latest in a long line of high-speed brain rushes provided by Rudy Rucker. While every one of his novels has combined mind-blowing ideas, vivid characters, and gripping (and occasionally goofy) plots, Postsingular is a more tightly written tale than any to date (which shows that even great writers find ways to continue to perfect their craft).

The story is told in layers, and that device works for a book essentially about the layers between worlds and between objects in worlds (that's as close to a spoiler as I'm dishing out here). While being a science fiction tale, and very much involved with technology (to be expected from a retired professor of computer science), it is ultimately a human story, a story of people and life and the search for meaning and happiness. The book works on all of these levels: feel-good read, brain dance, and sci-fi goodness. (Note: for a non-fiction exploration of some of the ideas in this book, see Rucker's The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul: What Gnarly Computation Taught Me About Ultimate Reality, the Meaning of Life, and How to Be Happy).

Rucker has surpassed himself (again) and continues to demonstrate why fellow science fiction author William Gibson declares Rucker "a National Treasure of American science fiction."
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Format: Hardcover
I have been a fan of Rudy Rucker for many years and admire the inventiveness and irreverence of his earlier works. However, I feel that his more recent work has become increasingly sloppy and Postsingular is probably the worst example of this. There are some ideas about quantum computation, string theory, cryptography, etc at the heart of this story, but they are so overlayered with slick sounding, brightly colored but ultimately meaningless nonsense that the book has nothing to say about technology or people or the interface of people and technology or, well, anything really. There is no problem encountered in the story that isn't solved a few pages later by an inexplicable application of magic. It is impossible to empathize with (or be the least interested by) the antics of the characters when the rules of the game are constantly being changed by the magical intervention of other dimensional demi-gods and aliens. The book would have been much improved if Rucker had stuck to his original idea (in which von Neumann machines provide infinite computation but at the price of devouring the physical earth and replacing it with a simulation) and actually developed it rather than just piling crazy garbage on top of it hoping that some of it might stick.

In addition to this lazy plotting, the characterization is inconsistent and two-dimensional. Especially the characters from the alternate dimension have no consistent motivation and alternately intervene to help or hinder the protagonists as suits the plot. The protagonists themselves have very little depth.
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Format: Hardcover
Rudy Rucker's bodacious ideas are easy to love, but it's harder to love the books. His level of creativity will amaze the adventurous reader, but his skills in distilling those ideas into a coherent plot still have some catching up to do. This book is overflowing with quirky forward thinking about the upcoming quantum singularity, in which every atom in the universe possesses computing power and humanity is freed from earthly isolation. And unlike many of his fellow extropian authors, Rucker makes his stories fun and engaging with brightly described settings, oddball adventures, and quirky characters. He also overloads his prose with wild terminology that might seem like made-up slang but are actually constructed neologisms that will mean something a few decades from now (such as "ubbaflop"). It's certainly fun to read this story of geeky villainy, street-kid heroism, and inter-dimensional shenanigans in the race to either save or ruin humanity in the face of the oncoming singularity. That is, after a rocky start that was apparently pieced together from multiple pre-existing short stories, with incredibly vast but under-explained thought experiments by Rucker appearing and disappearing haphazardly. The book eventually becomes more functional, notwithstanding some very inconsistent plotting. But the real problem is the poorly-written romantic relationships - which are so obviously not Rucker's forte. This novel highlights all of Rucker's weaknesses, sometimes to the point of embarrassment, but the strengths of his ideas and cosmos-sized compu-thinking still make for an adventurous read. [~doomsdayer520~]
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Format: Hardcover
That -- WHEENK -- is the name of the "metanovel" one of the POSTSINGULAR characters busies herself creating during the course of the book. It's also a perfect poster word for describing this Rudy Rucker sci-fi extravaganza. This is one wheenkin' ride!

Early in the book, the autistic boy genius, Chu, corrects his joking biotech genius father about a BIG number: " 'Ten to the thirty-ninth is duodecillion' " he chides, " 'Not umptisquiddlyzillion." But umptisquiddlyzillion just about covers the nearly endless gush of ideas that Rucker looses in this novel. What most people wouldn't give to have that many inventive thoughts in ten lifetimes, and he nonchalantly dispenses them in one volume!

Think of POSTSINGULAR as "Jack and the Beanstock" on uppers (and downers). Ye olde fairty tale is updated with extrapolations about the latest theoretical physics (such as "branes") and trendy sci-fi speculations about how artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and virtual reality might revolutionize or even extinguish life as we know it.

The early chapters, entitled "Nant Day," "Orphid Night," and "Chu's Knot," originally appeared as short stories; and in the middle of POSTSINGULAR, the tensile strength of those early chapters slumps just a mite...even though it is filled with mind riffs by the vagrant (and randy) technogeeks who climb onstage beginning in Chapter 5. Then, however, the frantic dash for the finish gets the old adrenaline pumping as all the socially awkward heroes try to save earth from devouring nants!

You may be wondering about the sea creature on the cover. Rest assured you'll learn all about it when you jump into this trippin' mind squeeze! Go for it! Wheenck! [4.7 stars]
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