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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent example of a blend of high tech and space opera!
In my opinion, this book has it all, because it takes place hundreds of years in our future where technology has allowed humanity to travel faster-than-light in order to scatter himself amongst the stars, but it is also great sci-fi space opera and belongs with: "Foundation", "Ringworld", "Starship Troopers", "Rendezvous with Rama",...
Published on July 4 2004 by Kevin

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stop worrying and love the Singularity
Stross' book has a great opening: cellphones rain from the sky as an advanced post-human civilization called the Festival comes to a backwards, Luddite planet. A poor boy picks up a cellphone and entertains it in exchange for feeding his familly.
The problem is, we never see the boy again. Instead, we're dragged off to a very long plot arc that describes the Luddite...
Published on March 15 2005 by Peter Tupper


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stop worrying and love the Singularity, March 15 2005
By 
Peter Tupper (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Stross' book has a great opening: cellphones rain from the sky as an advanced post-human civilization called the Festival comes to a backwards, Luddite planet. A poor boy picks up a cellphone and entertains it in exchange for feeding his familly.
The problem is, we never see the boy again. Instead, we're dragged off to a very long plot arc that describes the Luddite society despatching a space opera fleet that we are told will be wiped out as soon as it meets the Festival. Two humans from a more advanced society are along for the ride, trying to manipulate the situation to their own agendas.
Stross spends a lot of time beating the drum on the stupidity and venality of the technologically and socially backwards New Republic, and how they should just stop worrying and love the Singularity. The two nominal heroes, Martin and Rachel, have one-sided arguments with a dim-witted secret police agent that belong in an old Heinlein novel. If the Singularity means seeing your family get turned into killer zombie mimes, can you blame some people for suppressing it?
At the end, everything seems to have come to naught. The revolution is stillborn, the New Republic fleet is wiped out as expected, the Singularity tech seems to have vanished as suddenly as it arrived, the Festival packs up and moves on and various plot threads just fizzle out. Neither of the nominal heroes have signicantly influenced the course of events.
Stross has great ideas, and how the Festival and its various sub-types and camp-followers function is well drawn. His storytelling and characterization are what's lacking.
According to one interview, the North American version was a different length from the UK. I hope that the original UK version was better than this, with more on the impact of the Festival instead of pages after page of military detail.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A good story, but could have used some tightening up, Nov. 20 2013
By 
Daniel Magyar (Houston, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Singularity Sky (Kindle Edition)
Overall I enjoyed the book and have moved on to the second book in the series. Coming in I knew this was an early work for Stross, and had enjoyed Glass House, so had a bit more patience for the book even when I realized I was occasionally bored at parts in the book. Basically there's some plot threads which just weren't that interesting.

I did find the science of the book quite interesting, with perspectives on time travel. It has the flare of authenticity, although truth be told I wouldn't be able to parse conjecture form fact.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but amateurish, June 9 2004
By 
Jonathan A. Turner (Nashua, NH United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Singularity Sky (Hardcover)
Charles Stross needs to learn one of the oldest and most fundamental rules in SF writing: ideas are easy, stories are hard. This book has a bunch of neat ideas in it--I particularly liked the notion that instant communication depends on physical shipments of entangled quantum bits, so you can literally run out of bandwidth until the next supply ship docks. But neat ideas by themselves are a dime a dozen.
Structurally, the book has two parallel plotlines. The primary one takes place on and around the battle fleet sent to "rescue" Rochard's World. The secondary one takes place on the planet. The problem is, neither one is very interesting. On Rochard's World, a bunch of incomprehensible stuff happens to some not-very-interesting characters, with absolutely no effect on the eventual denouement. On the battle fleet, we get two adequately-drawn characters (Rachel and Martin) and a bunch of one-dimensional stereotypes. Rachel and Martin manage to save themselves from the Evil Bad Guys (and deliver a fairly dull homily that's apparently an attempt to drive home a moral), but otherwise they don't affect the plot either.
The big problem is that we, the readers, know from Page 1 that the aforementioned battle fleet is hopelessly technologically outclassed, and has a life expectancy measurable with a stopwatch. And, in fact, that's exactly what happens. It's hard to see why Rachel and Martin are exerting themselves to stop the fleet, since they know this as well as we do.
Given these facts, it's particularly bizarre that a big chunk of the book is full of brusque pseudo-Tom-Clancy military technospeak. We get loving descriptions of laser-boosted missiles (which we know are obsolete and useless), lots of crisp order-snapping dialog, long descriptions of the ships' drive systems, detailed tactical layouts, etc., etc. For example:
* * *
"Solution on target alpha?"
Fire control: "Time to range on target alpha, two-zero-zero seconds, sir."
"Hmm." Mirsky contemplated the display. "Commander. Your opinion."
Ilya swallowed. "I'd get in close and use the laser grid."
Mirsky shook his head, slightly. "You forget they may have X-ray lasers." Louder: "Relativity, I want you ready to give me a microjump ... Destination can be anywhere within about one-zero AUs ... "
"Aye aye, sir. Kernel is fully recharged; we can do that. Holding at T minus five seconds, now."
"Guns: I want six SEM-20s in the tube, armed and ready to launch in two minutes. Warheads dialed for directional spallation, two-zero degree spread. Three of them go to alpha target; hold the other three in reserve ready for launch on five seconds' notice. Next, load and arm two torpedoes. I want them hot and ready when I need them."
* * *
This goes on for pages and pages. Is it meant to be interesting in its own right? Impossible, since we are told (correctly) that it'll all be worse than useless once the real fight starts. Is it meant to be a parody of military SF? If so, it's not funny. (There are a number of elements in the secondary plotline which more clearly look like attempts at humor; most of them fail.)
It's possible that _Singularity Sky_ would have worked better as a short story. Eliminating the secondary plotline and most of the military bafflegab would be a good start.
I'm tempted to give this book only two stars, to counter the fact that it inexplicably wound up on this year's Hugo ballot. On consideration, that's probably too harsh. _Singularity Sky_ isn't actively bad; it just fails to be good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but might have been better as a short story., July 10 2004
By 
"davidp-c" (Cincinnati, OH USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Singularity Sky (Hardcover)
This book felt rather like a short story padded out (mostly with irrelevant space opera scenes) to novel-length. I found parts of it quite thought-provoking, though, particularly the question of what happens to a society in which everyone is suddenly given everything they ask for.
I love the way the prologue is written--it grabs you with its clever ideas and high speed--made me wish the whole story was written that way instead of bogging down in tiresome military drama, clunky romance scenes, etc...
Not really a book to buy--I'd recommend getting this one from the library and reading it quickly, skimming through the filler.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor, June 15 2004
By 
This review is from: Singularity Sky (Hardcover)
Amazon censored my first review. Let's hope it doesn't happen again.
The gist of that review, and this one, is simple: This book was a poor read with lousy characters, an interesting plot hook that failed to realize its potential, and a sluggish pace. There are washed up sports writers who could write better. Unfortunate, because this author's material is usually very, very strong.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent example of a blend of high tech and space opera!, July 4 2004
This review is from: Singularity Sky (Hardcover)
In my opinion, this book has it all, because it takes place hundreds of years in our future where technology has allowed humanity to travel faster-than-light in order to scatter himself amongst the stars, but it is also great sci-fi space opera and belongs with: "Foundation", "Ringworld", "Starship Troopers", "Rendezvous with Rama", "Childhood's End", "2001", 2010", "Advent of the Corps", and many others. Great read!
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2.0 out of 5 stars This got a Hugo nomination?, June 12 2004
By 
John Morse (Ryebridge, CT) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Singularity Sky (Hardcover)
Sorry to say it but please add my name to the list of readers who found this book boring,poorly written and wildly overrated. I give it two stars instead of one because a few of the ideas in it werent too terrible and because it showed enough promise that I might possibly pick up a Stross book again. In paperback. I've enjoyed some of his short stories so hopefully he'll finda way to make his longer fiction work.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Singularly Boring, May 26 2004
By 
This review is from: Singularity Sky (Hardcover)
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, we find out very, very little about the motivations or activities of the AI - 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. 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.
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 form 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 will all the material and technological goods they could have ever wanted, with some unintended consequences. Sound boring yet? It was.
In the meantime, two agents of differing groups but with similar outlooks - Rachael Mansour and Martin Springfield - meet and fall in love, as they continue on their missions aboard a New Republic starship dispatched to crush the rebellion.
And so the story goes...
There are three primary problems with this novel. First, the characters are poorly drawn, except for Rachael and Martin. Second, the story is not well developed and the deeper motivations of various actors are poorly explained. And third, there is far too much filler type writing such as the tedious military jargon and aimless political maneuverings aboard the star ship that do absolutely nothing to advance the story and are tedious to read.
Unless you want to read all the Hugo nominees for the sake of it, I'd recommend skipping this one.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly Overrated, May 5 2004
By 
Emperor Norton (Interstellar Suburbia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Singularity Sky (Hardcover)
Which means it deserves a 3.5, but I'm feeling merciful...Began well (great opening line) but pretty quickly lost momentum and novelty. Stross may be good at writing action but not so good at characterization or plot pacing. There were some novel ideas in the book, but they were mostly in the background (like the idea of the Eschaton) and never fully explored, and the foreground plot was less compelling.
Plus, as others have pointed out, the book had too much of a contemporary feel to it, and then there was the horrid bit with the mimes...shudder...
Not sure why this is nominated for a Hugo - if you want far better-written and original space opera, or just a plain good read, try Alastair Reynolds or John Wright,
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3.0 out of 5 stars A decent journeyman effort, Dec 23 2003
By 
Mithradates (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Singularity Sky (Hardcover)
Enjoyable overall, but recommended only with reservations. As noted by others, the continual anachronistic references to life in the late 20th /early 21st centuries is grating. Whatever term people will use for their instantaneous communications 300 years from now, I'm sure it won't be "email." In general, we have here an interesting concept, but the novel should have received another two iterations of critical editing. Sometimes, somebody just needs to tell an author, "No! Don't DO that!" (The episode of the pie-throwing mimes cost this book an entire star.)
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Singularity Sky
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