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Kiln People
Beth Meacham, David Brin

Singularity Sky

Singularity Sky - Charles Stross 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.