Singularity Sky Mass Market Paperback – Jun 29 2004
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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.
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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
At last! A modern science fiction writer who can write a whole book without trying to baffle the reader with a superfluous treatise on quantum mechanics. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Willy Eckerslike
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... Read morePublished on Nov. 20 2013 by Daniel Magyar
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... Read morePublished on July 4 2004 by Kevin
Sorry to say it but please add my name to the list of readers who found this book boring,poorly written and wildly overrated. Read morePublished on June 12 2004 by John Morse
Which means it deserves a 3.5, but I'm feeling merciful...Began well (great opening line) but pretty quickly lost momentum and novelty. Read morePublished on May 5 2004 by Emperor Norton
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. Read morePublished on Dec 23 2003 by Mithradates
I was amazed and excited by "Toast: And Other Rusted Futures" Stross' collection of short stories. (I highly recommend this book). Read morePublished on Dec 16 2003