- Series: Singularity (Book 1)
- Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Ace (June 29, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780441011797
- ISBN-13: 978-0441011797
- ASIN: 0441011799
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 160 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #734,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Singularity Sky Mass Market Paperback – June 29, 2004
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Praise for Charles Stross
“A new kind of future requires a new breed of guide—someone like Stross.”—Popular Science
“The act of creation seems to come easily to Charles Stross...[He] is peerless at dreaming up devices that could conceivably exist in six, sixty, or six hundred years’ time.”—The New York Times
“Where Charles Stross goes today, the rest of science fiction will follow tomorrow.”—Gardner Dozois, Editor, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine
“Smart, literate, funny.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Lev Grossman, Time
“Much of the action is completely nuts, but Stross manages to ground it in believability through his protagonist’s deadpan reactions to both insane office politics and supernatural mayhem.”—San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
Charles Stross was born in Leeds, England, in 1964. He has worked as a pharmacist, software engineer and freelance journalist, but now writes full-time. To date, Stross has won three Hugo Awards and been nominated twelve times. He has also won the Locus Award for Best Novel, the Locus Award for Best Novella, and has been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke and Nebula Awards. His books include the Merchant Princess series, the Laundry Files series, the Singularity series, and several stand-alone novels.
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The Technology Singularity on Earth gave rise to a powerful collection of AIs known as the Eschaton. After the Singularity, they distributed 90% of the residents of Earth over many systems within 1000 light years. Despite their power, they don't really want to kill anyone. But if any party ever attempts to go back in time and change the events that led to the Singularity and their existence, beware! And if they inadvertently take steps in that direction, trouble awaits them.
The "light cone", causality relationships, slower-than-light (STL) travel versus FTL, time travel, and instant communication based on quantum entanglement are brought together in a fascinating and compelling mix. And I liked the idea of a cornucopia machine that can basically manufacture anything, but in this novel it seems more like magic than science. At the very least, it's a convenient plot device.
The Festival is a collection of uploaded consciousnesses that travel the universe to trade information for anything a cornucopia machine can make. Their presence and their effect raises hell with the civilizations they visit. But to me The Festival felt like a crossing from science to fantasy and then into complete absurdity. I found most of the passages regarding The Festival to be tedious and uninteresting. Though the idea of a race of infovores sounds promising, it just didn't work for me. The one fascinating aspect of them is that they are neither friend nor enemy, but even without friendly or hostile intent, their effect can be infinitely rewarding or devastating.
Stross pulls out every exotic tech element in the book: interstellar transport powered by controlled black holes, timelike paths, nanomachines, grey goo, instantaneous communication using entangled particles, even naked mole rats. I wonder how many people got the extended reference to Baba Yaga's house. :-) (Look it up. :-)) (Too bad he didn't include her iron teeth.) There's even an EE Doc Smith-like reference to a Great Big Thing in the background that Does Not like it At All when you violate causality, something apparently too easy to do in this milieu.
Yes, it revolves around a simplistic critique of Tsarist Russia and communist revolutionaries. Yes, he thinks the UN world government should work like the IETF [governing body of the Internet]. (I doubt he's experienced the IETF; it would change his mind.) Yes, the characters aren't all that fleshed-out and simplistic. (I had to wince at a 150-year old ageless woman emoting like love-struck teenager.) Yes, he spends too much time on pseudo-physics descriptions of how things work. Yes, he apparently confuses "singularity" with "post scarcity" - but I'm not sure that wasn't deliberate.
You know what? I didn't care. It was just a fun romp. I'm truly looking forward to reading the sequel.
The Eschaton is a superhuman super-intelligent AI, which sends most of Earth's 10 billion population to colonize other planets in the galaxy. The event happens suddenly, in one day – the Singularity.
Earth and the colonies re-establish contact, and star-ships travel across the galaxy. But the Eschaton has expressly forbidden faster-than-time travel: Someone could edit the Eschaton's very existence in history.
“Singularity Sky” refers to the sudden access to advanced technology, brought to the human colonies by “The Festival”, a self-assembling super-intelligent AI entity traveling through the galaxy.
Rochard's World is a colony of the repressive regime of the New Republic, which limits Rochard's World to technology, social, cultural and political environment to that of 19th century Europe.
When the Festival provides Rochard's World with higher technology, the result is sudden and tremendous changes – Rochard's World rebels against the New Republic.
The New Republic plans an attack on The Festival: the star-fleet plans to jump into the future, and then return to a time just after the Festival's arrival at Rochard's world. The time travel is a possible violation of the Eschaton's laws.
There are however two Earth-based spies on board the star fleet sent to track the New Republic's plans: Rachel Mansour is a deep-cover UN diplomat. Martin Springfield is an Earth-based engineer hired by the New Republic to upgrade its star-fleet drive systems. However, Springfield has also been hired by the Eschaton to sabotage the star-fleet's plan enough to delay the return time to Rochard's world.
Rachel and Martin are the only ones on board who understand the danger of using the forbidden time travel technology.