Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Singularity Sky

The novel is set far in the future after a forced diaspora of humans across the universe by an artificial intelligence run amok, the Eschaton. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea why the AI is doing what it does, or anything else about it - other than its prime goal is to keep humans from messing around with faster than light travel (FTL) and the possibilities of time travel it implies. That point is driven home Ad nauseum. The Eschaton doesn't want anybody going back in time and changing the conditions that brought it into existence. Other than that, the Eschaton is just background filler at best.

The bulk of the novel is about a planetary system, the New Republic, run by a militaristic authoritarian regime that prohibits high technology and is intentionally isolated from the rest of the humanity. A Marxist (yes, Marxist!) revolutionary cadre has sprung up on one of it's backwater colony planets - which explodes unpredictably when a mysterious starship calling itself the Festival arrives offering the inhabitants anything they want in exchange for information (stories, theories, what have you). They suddenly find themselves with all the material and technological goods they could have ever wanted, with some unintended consequences. Sound boring yet? Yes, it was.

While his wordplay, setting, and concepts are nothing short of breath-taking his characters and plot development are nothing short of yawn inducing. I trudged through the novel as best as I could, and it took considerable effort to finish it. It was lauded with much praise, and I can certainly see why a novel such as this would be an instant hit with particular readers, but Stross' brand of "hard" sci-fi just wasn't my cup of tea.


  1. Sounds like you should have read Sharpe's Rifles instead.