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Singularity Sky Mass Market Paperback – Jun 29 2004

3.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; Reprint edition (June 29 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441011799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441011797
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.4 x 17 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #249,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In his first novel, British author Stross, one of the hottest short-story writers in the field, serves up an energetic and sometimes satiric mix of cutting-edge nanotechnology, old-fashioned space opera and leftist political commentary reminiscent of Ken MacLeod. Spaceship engineer Martin Springfield and U.N. diplomat Rachel Mansour hail from an Earth that has gone through the Singularity, an accelerated technological and social evolution far beyond anything we can imagine. The Singularity was triggered by the Eschaton, a super-powerful being descended from humanity that can travel in time and that essentially rules the universe. Springfield and Mansour meet on the home world of the New Republic, a repressive, backwater society that has outlawed virtually all advanced technology other than that necessary for interstellar warfare. When one of the New Republic's colonial worlds is besieged by the Festival, an enigmatic alien intelligence, the Republic counterattacks, using time travel in an attempt to put its warships in position to catch the Festival by surprise. Springfield and Mansour, working for different masters, have both been assigned the task of either diffusing the crisis or sabotaging the New Republic's warfleet, no matter what the cost. As a newcomer to long fiction, Stross has some problems with pacing, but the book still generates plenty of excitement.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In the twenty-fifth century, human society has depended for several hundred years on faster-than-light travel and an artificial intelligence called the Eschaton. Interstellar colonies are scattered all over, and one, the New Republic, has become a classic refuge for antitechnological holdouts. But the New Republic is suddenly under attack, literally, by the technology it has tried to suppress, which now appears under the name the Festival. An Earth battle fleet is on the way, but is it coming to help, to ride to power on the coattails of the Festival, or to fulfill some entirely separate agenda, possibly set by the Eschaton, which has achieved consciousness, sentience, and probably a lust for power? If no element of Stross' novel is very original, all of them are formidably well-executed, especially the meticulous and imaginative portrayal of the New Republic and its Victorian technology. In addition, the book possesses the rare virtue of neither requiring nor precluding a sequel. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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