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Diaspora Mass Market Paperback – November 3, 1999
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In the 30th century, few humans remain on Earth. Most have downloaded themselves into robot bodies or solar-system-spanning virtual realities, escaping death--or so they believe, until the collision of nearby neutron stars threatens life in every form.
Diaspora, written by Hugo Award and John W. Campbell Memorial Award winner Greg Egan, transcends millennia and universes in the tradition of Poul Anderson's Tau Zero, Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix Plus, Camille Flammarion's Omega, and Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men. Diaspora is packed with mind-bending ideas extrapolated from cutting-edge cosmology, physics, and consciousness theory to create an astonishing hard-SF novel inhabited by very strange yet always believable characters. Diaspora is why people read SF. --Cynthia Ward
From Publishers Weekly
By the year 2975, humanity has wandered down several widely divergent evolutionary paths. "Flesher" life is that which resides in a basically human body, though genetically engineered mutations have created communication problems throughout the species. In the "polises," meanwhile, disembodied but self-aware artificial intelligences procreate, interact, make art and attempt to solve life's mathematical mysteries. Then there are the "gleisners," which are conscious, flesher-shaped robots run by self-aware software that is linked directly to the physical world through hardware. Throughout, Egan (Distress) follows the progress of Yatima, an orphan spontaneously generated by the non-sentient software of the Konishi polis. Yatima gains self-awareness, meets with Earthly fleshers and, when tragedy strikes, becomes personally involved in the greatest search for species survival ever undertaken. Though the novel often reads like a series of tenuously connected graduate theses and lacks the robust drama and characterizations of good fiction, fans of hard SF that incorporates higher mathematics and provocative hypotheses about future evolution are sure to be fascinated by Egan's speculations.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The AI spend decades trying to figure out if the carpets are at all sentient, until one of the AI's realizes that the carpets are actually growing and moving in patterns that is computer code... Upon further investigation the the carpets are just one slice of a sixteen-dimensional sentient species...
This is just one amazing part of this crazy book. If you're at all into futurism, physics, AI, math and or programming, you need to read this.
But, flaws aside, here is why I cannot give this book less than 5 stars: The fascinating ideas are REALLY FASCINATING.
If you want a glimpse of well fleshed out future societies (many of which which seem quite plausible, assuming that science eventually allows "uploading"), including their philosophies surrounding what life is, what the purpose of life is, how one interacts with those who choose different paths (or different physical forms), and what it might mean to live as a digital entity (and even to never have known anything else), you have to read this book.
This book, along with Egan's "Permutation City," (also an excellent book, and probably one to read before Diaspora to absorb its concepts, though the two have nothing to do with each other plot-wise) are the pinnacle of such speculation, woven into story form. It seems to me that Egan isn't just a writer of science fiction. He's obviously thought long and hard about these topics and that he is just as much a philosopher and a futurist who uses science fiction as a vehicle to convey his beliefs and speculations as he is a writer.
There is lucidity and fluidity in characters, which seems to makes sense given trillions or more years the novel spans. However, each life is still a trajectory with goals, so I'm thinking stories, narratives, still exist in space.
Enjoyed preach of pacifism and ecological (?) restraint, space travel often synonymous with conquest, 'bad' aliens.
Enjoyed the richer descriptive first half of the book, seems to fall away in the last quarter (entropy?). Nevertheless prefer that to a grand scale finale.
Highly recommended reading.