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Singularity Sky Hardcover – August 5, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his first novel, British author Stross, one of the hottest short-story writers in the field, serves up an energetic and sometimes satiric mix of cutting-edge nanotechnology, old-fashioned space opera and leftist political commentary reminiscent of Ken MacLeod. Spaceship engineer Martin Springfield and U.N. diplomat Rachel Mansour hail from an Earth that has gone through the Singularity, an accelerated technological and social evolution far beyond anything we can imagine. The Singularity was triggered by the Eschaton, a super-powerful being descended from humanity that can travel in time and that essentially rules the universe. Springfield and Mansour meet on the home world of the New Republic, a repressive, backwater society that has outlawed virtually all advanced technology other than that necessary for interstellar warfare. When one of the New Republic's colonial worlds is besieged by the Festival, an enigmatic alien intelligence, the Republic counterattacks, using time travel in an attempt to put its warships in position to catch the Festival by surprise. Springfield and Mansour, working for different masters, have both been assigned the task of either diffusing the crisis or sabotaging the New Republic's warfleet, no matter what the cost. As a newcomer to long fiction, Stross has some problems with pacing, but the book still generates plenty of excitement.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In the twenty-fifth century, human society has depended for several hundred years on faster-than-light travel and an artificial intelligence called the Eschaton. Interstellar colonies are scattered all over, and one, the New Republic, has become a classic refuge for antitechnological holdouts. But the New Republic is suddenly under attack, literally, by the technology it has tried to suppress, which now appears under the name the Festival. An Earth battle fleet is on the way, but is it coming to help, to ride to power on the coattails of the Festival, or to fulfill some entirely separate agenda, possibly set by the Eschaton, which has achieved consciousness, sentience, and probably a lust for power? If no element of Stross' novel is very original, all of them are formidably well-executed, especially the meticulous and imaginative portrayal of the New Republic and its Victorian technology. In addition, the book possesses the rare virtue of neither requiring nor precluding a sequel. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books/Berkley Publishing; 1st edition (August 5, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441010725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441010721
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #676,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles Stross, 50, is a full-time science fiction writer and resident of Edinburgh, Scotland. The author of six Hugo-nominated novels and winner of the 2005, 2010, and 2015 Hugo awards for best novella, Stross's works have been translated into over twelve languages.

Like many writers, Stross has had a variety of careers, occupations, and job-shaped-catastrophes in the past, from pharmacist (he quit after the second police stake-out) to first code monkey on the team of a successful dot-com startup (with brilliant timing he tried to change employer just as the bubble burst).

Customer Reviews

On the whole, Charles Stross is a writer of fair but undistinguished technical ability and little talent.
The Literate Fanboy
The downside of Stross is that he has incredible range, so if you like some of his books, you might accidentally pick up a stinker like Singularity Sky.
Amazon Customer
This would have been better as a short story, where the reader does not expect as much from plot and characters.
Kurt Hockenbury

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Jamie Jamison on August 17, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sometime in the mid 21st century an artificial intelligence arises out of Earth's computer networks. This intelligence scatters the land with strange structures, causes nine tenths of the population to disappear and issues three commandments. Flash forward a few centuries, the missing nine tenths of earth's population were transmitted via wormholes to star systems up to 3000 light years away, travelling one year back in the past for every light year travelled. Earth has recovered from the events of this singularity and is now a sort of central clearing house for trade and information under a reconstituted United Nations.

Martin Springfield is an engineer working for the Navy of the New Republic, one of the civilzations rising out of this diaspora and which despite it's name is more of an empire. The New Republic has banned most information technology and all nano-technology and keeps its citizens backwards in a highly stratified society where advanced technologies are only permitted for military or state security uses.

When a travelling interstellar civilization known as the Festival comes to the New Republic colony world New Rochard the whole social system is kicked over. The Festival wants stories and information, and is willing to trade high tech products that verge on the magical to the inhabitants of New Rochard, which destroys scarcity and the whole hierarchical system. Rather than allow this to happen the New Republic decides to launch a war fleet to take out the Festival. Using faster than light travel the war fleet will arrive at New Rochard before the Festival does, thus saving the day.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Rablais on October 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I blazed through this book. It is playful, irreverent, consumed by more raw ideas and imaginative takes on traditional scifi tropes than I've seen in a dog's age. And it contains the most vivid spaceship command deck combat dialogue I've ever read. If you enjoy the occasional fat mouthful of jargon, you're going to find yourself chewing vigorously throughout Singularity Sky.
Mr. Stross is obviously having more fun in some parts of his writing than others, which while noticable, isn't fatal. I think the other reviewers should give this book another read without their Clarion baseball hats on, or at least with them loosened a few notches. Perfection isn't required for enjoyment - just energy and novelty. Maybe they were dissatisfied at the denouement to the Big Space Battle, but that was the point - sometimes, you don't get the lollypop.
Singularity Sky is about *bigness*, like John Clute's _Appleseed_, but more accessbile. It's full of little in-jokes and sly tech-culture references, doing for the IETF what _Silverlock_ did for filk. It baps around collectivism, the principles of sovereignty, mutation theory, spy techniques, nanotechnology, Newtonian physics, kangaroo courts, secret police, and a character straight out of a Gilbert and Sullivan production. Oi vey!
I liked it. I'm looking forward to his next book A Lot. He will only get better.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Andrew X. Lias on September 8, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been reading Charles Stross's "Accellerando" cycle of short stories in Asimov and have been much impressed. As such, I've been looking forward to reading Singularity Sky.

This is a first novel and much be judged accordingly. It does have its rough edges. Like many hard SF authors, Stross has a love of technical jargon that does, sometimes, get in the way of the story. I must also note that I found the ending to be less than satisfactory and something of a cheat given the events of the story.

That said, the book is brimming with fresh ideas. Stross appears to be one of the few authors who takes the notion of a Vingean Singularity seriously and that comes through in this story to its benefit. He's also better at characterization than most hard SF authors manage (which isn't to say that it couldn't stand some improvement).

It is a book filled with ideas and brimming with a sense of wonder. I don't doubt that as he hones his skills, he will be an author to reckon with.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tom Perkins on June 15, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Charles Stross has a fertile imagination, disciplined enough to permit an imaginative story. Indeed, I enjoyed Singularity Sky when Stross became technical, if sometimes only by clever evocative words. Normally, I don't care much about character development in SF but Stross hung a fair amount of importance on his characters whom I found it difficult to distinguish. The heroine was of course the only female although given to masculine behaviors. Stross is good with apposite unexplained references which give the observant reader many a chuckle. The middle two-thirds of the story held me but I found the opening tedious and the ending unsatisfying although not implausible. In short, the book is well worth reading once but I did not find it memorable.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mithridates VI of Pontus VINE VOICE on June 1, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Simply put, I had serious problems with this book. Firstly, the characters seemed one dimensional and lacking defining characteristics that make them individuals. Stross' main flaw, however, is the amount of information that that he feels is pertinent for the reader to understand. I am an avid science fiction fan but instead of reading every word about an interesting piece of equipment or a weird mutation on Rochald's World I consciously skipped over the lengthy sentences that spew quite incoherently, trails of techno-babble. The story does have some strength in its ideas. For example, the festival's interaction with societies is extremely interesting and a little more focus would have greatly improved the novel.

2/5 execution, 1/5 focus, 5/5 ideas = 2/5 overall
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