June 30, 2004

Singularity Sky by Charles Stross

singularitysky.jpgThis is the second of this year's Hugo-nominated novels I've read. I just reserved the other three at the library and there are no holds on any of them so I might actually be able to get through them before the ballot deadline. We'll see whether I feel strongly enough about one of them to want to spring for a supporting membership so I can actually vote.

I've been reading Charlie Stross's blog for a while, but hadn't read any of his books. The Hugo nomination pushed me to bump him up in the stack.

The setting of Singularity Sky is complex. Sometime in the past there was an AI-facilitated diaspora of human-kind throughout the galaxy. Due to the physical separation of different social groups there's been some culture drift (similar to that in John Barnes's A Million Open Doors), but ways have been found (as they usually are in sf-nal universes) of bringing the varied cultures back together both via communication and physical travel.

Most of the action takes place on and between two worlds of a modest empire founded on an isolationist principle. They are resistant to the advanced technology of the larger human population. So when a flotilla of anarchistic novelty seekers arrive at one of their planets and begin disrupting the carefully maintained social order by spending technological secrets with wild abandon, the seat of govenment on the home planet quickly dispatches a fleet to repel the invaders.

Adding spice to the mix are a couple of spies from different factions of the outside human cultures.

Stross does a wonderful job playing farce against classic space opera against political intrigue. The book skips along at a good clip and never allows any of the players to devolve into caricature. The luddites are as sympathetic as the technophiles. It's great fun.

I must disclaim that it's been over a month since I finished this book so my account of the details of the story may very well be significantly askew.

Posted by jeffy at June 30, 2004 10:49 PM

My husband the rocket scientist appeared to like this rather a lot as he kept cackling and reading aloud choice bits to me. I'm hoping to get to it soon.


Posted by: Mary Kay at July 8, 2004 08:05 PM
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