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Singularity Sky

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the good-name-for-daughter dept.

Sci-Fi 416

Indomitus writes "I used to read tons of science fiction, nothing but for long stretches. Then I grew up and realized that most science fiction sucked. I look back on the time spent reading anything by Piers Anthony and know I'm going to be wishing I had those hours back when I'm older. Writers like Charlie Stross are the reason I know most SF sucks, because he does it so well. He fills this somewhat slim book with more ideas than any 10 other books from the section his work inhabits at the bookstore." Read on for the rest.

The main idea of the story, that a semi-sentient information-gathering alien system called the Festival comes to a backward farming planet and begins granting wishes -- in the form of advanced technology -- in exchange for stories and information, is only the seedbed for the larger exploration of the societally backward planetary system and what happens when the revolution you hoped to lead finally comes and it doesn't need you.

As a lifelong reader of science fiction, I hate that most SF is just as backward-looking as most Fantasy. Part of the problem with recent SF work is that we've come to a point in science where a lot of what made science fiction new has been done and what's coming is almost impossible to imagine, which I'll get to in a second. Space exploration can still be exciting but most new space stuff has been infected with the Star Trek Syndrome, as I call it, where everyone is boring and has no flaws, and the status quo rules. People just don't look to space exploration as exciting in real life so that translates to the SF work that people do. Real life science is changing so fast that it leaves even science fiction people in the dust. The result is the rise of 'Fantasy with robots and aliens' and 'Space Opera,' two facets of SF that seem to be dominating the landscape. Even Neal Stephenson, who was at the forefront of real technological future SF with The Diamond Age and Snow Crash has gone backward with Quicksilver and to a lesser extent Cryptonomicon.

The issue is The Singularity. This is Vernor Vinge's idea that technological progress proceeds at an exponential rate until there is a complete break with what came before. The End Of History, as people call it. This comes with the creation of a human-level AI that quickly proceeds past human-level, the invention of Upload technology that will allow us to live in computer systems and artificial bodies, something of that nature that we can't imagine. The problem with writing futuristic work in the time before a Singularity is that you can't see beyond it. Everything is different, so much so that all we can hope for is the fire up our imaginations to the point where we can begin to think in new ways.

One of the main goals of science fiction as I see it is to prepare us for the future. You can't hope to cope with the future if you've never been innoculated with new ideas. Singularity Sky is one of the first post-Singularity novels I've read that takes the idea seriously and examines it, allowing us to open our minds to the vast possibilities. Stross doesn't shy away from it like so many others. He uses the Festival's coming to show the speed of the change that comes with a technological Singularity and what happens to people in the aftermath. He also shows a culture trying desperately to hang on to old ways and the futility of doing that in the face of such rapid change.

There are problems with the book, mostly in the perennial bugbear of science-fiction, character development, but the rush of ideas glossed over that for me. This is only Mr. Stross's second book, I believe, the first being a collection of short stories called Toast: And Other Rusted Futures, that is high on my Must Read list. Charles Stross is a name that you will hopefully hear a lot more from in the coming years. His imagination is up there with the best and brightest and with his work as an accelerant my mind can't help but burn with new ideas. I hope more science fiction writers see this book and decide to move forward to meet him.


You can purchase Singularity Sky from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Ordering up a FROSTY PISS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342556)

Hey ma, I just thought I'd grab a tall one!

FP?? Yippee (-1, Offtopic)

Svet-Am (413146) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342566)

finally, *I* get to have FP...

YOU TEH FAILURE!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342738)

Better luck next time there, loooooser.

Single Hot Babe (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342573)

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CEREN'S FILTHY MUFF IS FULL OF CRABS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342866)

WHO CARES? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342938)

A muff is a muff.

You can get rid of the crabs later on. It's just like hangover.

Duuuuude..... that's a GUY! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342969)

Little known fact -- Ceren is a guy. Granted, he has '133t GIMP skillz and a good tailor. But if you've ever seen him in person there's no missing that adam's apple. Not to mention the five o'clock shadow.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. I just think people should make an informed decision.

Does it so well? (5, Funny)

CanSpice (300894) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342601)

Writers like Charlie Stross are the reason I know most SF sucks, because he does it so well.
So you're saying he's good at writing SF that sucks?

Re:Does it so well? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342726)

No, no, no. He's saying that he sucks Charlie Stross so good b/c he reads SF all day.

Re:Does it so well? (1)

shut_up_man (450725) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342762)

I think he means it like Jackie Chan movies... when you examine the plot, acting, dialogue, pacing, makeup and costumes, they are terrible. It's just that the stunts/kung-fu aspect is so cool, that you really enjoy the movie.

Not surprisingly, this works for porn as well.

Re:Does it so well? (3, Interesting)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342878)

Sturgeon's Law as in Theodore Sturgeon, author and editor of Sci Fi of "The Golden Age" and the period just after that, said it best when staring at the Slush pile (the unsolisited manuscripts) on his desk: "90% of everything is Crud!"

Well, now I'm depressed (-1, Offtopic)

paranerd (672669) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342608)

Well, now I'm depressed after reading the first paragraph. Do I dare read the entire review?

Re:Well, now I'm depressed (1)

A Naughty Moose (672032) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342672)

Only if you want to know why science fiction isn't living up to the reviewers expectation.

Re:Well, now I'm depressed (1)

smack_attack (171144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342870)

... or you want to join the elite .0726% of /. that actually reads the articles.

Heh. Gottalove it. (3, Funny)

dragondm (30289) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342621)

I thought it was good.

You got to love a book that starts with it raining telephones.

Re:Heh. Gottalove it. (2, Funny)

Soruk (225361) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342763)

Where are the telephone sanitizers? Or have they all been carted off elsewhere already? If so, it's only a matter of time before they're all wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from an unexpectedly dirty telephone.

Author is a Slashdot Reader? (1, Informative)

Entropy Unleashed (682552) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342882)

In one of the Amazon reviews [amazon.com] it was mentioned that the author apparently is a Slashdot reader. If so, it would be quite interesting to hear about his experiences in writing and publishing a science fiction novel today. Do any other /.ers have questions that he would be able to shed light on?

Despite your verbal copulation of Mr Stross (-1, Troll)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342626)

This book sounds decidedly stupid. Why do I want to read it?

Magic space genie grants wishes. WOWEE ZOWEE!

Play nice with Piers Anthony (5, Insightful)

YukioMishima (205721) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342632)

Play nice with Piers Anthony. While Anthony's sci-fi books are definitely space opera, without his work, I would never have become the sci-fi reader I am today. His "Bio of a Space Tyrant" series was my first glimpse into some of the ideas that would germinate into a lifelong love of science fiction. He's an enthusiastic writer, and really does interact well with his fans, as evidenced by the fan correspondence he includes at the end of his books. Finally, at least it's reading and it's fun - I think the tradeoff for my hours is well worth it.

Re:Play nice with Piers Anthony (1)

Mukaikubo (724906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342703)

I don't have any use for most of Anthony's work, but his Incarnations of Immortality series was generally high-quality.

Re:Play nice with Piers Anthony (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342953)

I especially like his Apprentice Adept series.

Re:Play nice with Piers Anthony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342904)

Anthony is great for Junior and perhaps Senior high students who are into scifi. But, for a more mature audience he's just not there.

Out of the Anthony books I've read I'd reread the Incarnations of Immorality and only the first 6 books. The last one bit.

Coorespondence at the end of books I read were awful. I remember the Incarnations letters basically turning into how Anthony feels he's the greatest scifi writer of all time. Maybe it was tongue in cheek but if so it didn't come off as tongue in cheek.

Re:Play nice with Piers Anthony (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342968)

Piers Anthony -- SF's most prolific typist.

So, how is this science fiction? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342636)

You've got some super powerful (Godlike?) AI offstage threatening to intervene,
and someone granting wishes...

This is SCIENCE fiction exactly how?
by the way, since when does Piers Anthony write science fiction? I thought his mainstay was pure fantasy ( campy fantasy at that ).

Don't read Piers Anthony (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342668)

campy fantasy at that

I found his obsession on depicting homosexual sex also disgusting.

That made me throw away all his books after I found Jesus.

Piers Anthony and science fiction? (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342764)

by the way, since when does Piers Anthony write science fiction?

Here are just some of his "pure science fiction" titles. I weeded out the "half-fantasy" ones like Apprentice Adept:

Macroscope
Prostho Plus
Race Against Time
Rings of Ice
Triple Detente DAW pb 74; Tor pb 88
Steppe
But What of Earth?
Total Recall
Chthon
Phthor
Battle Circle (Sos the Rope, Var the Stick, Neq Omnivore
Orn
OX
Cluster
Chaining the Lady
Kirlian Quest
Thousandstar
Viscous Circle
Refugee
Mercenary
Politician
Exectutive
Statesman
The Iron Maiden

Re:Piers Anthony and science fiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342880)

The Tarot series is also great.

Tarot series (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342927)

"Tarot" is actually part of a larger series that includes "But What of Earth", the Cluster Trilogy, Thousandstar, and Viscous Circle.

However, I excluded "Tarot" from my long list that proved he was a science-fiction writer, because Tarot to me contains too much of a mystical/fantasy aspect to make it count as strictly science-fiction.

Re:Tarot series (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342997)

mystical/fantasy aspect

The only Piers Anthony I've liked is actually the Tarot-series - just because of that.

I liked how Sci-Fi suddenly blended into Satan shitting the main character out of "his" rectum.

total recall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342920)

"this book is a novelization of the script and the original novel" mm, sounds great _and_ original!

Same with Arthur C Clarke (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342978)

"this book is a novelization of the script and the original novel" mm, sounds great _and_ original!

Yes, this applies to Total Recall. It also applies to Arthur C Clarke's "2001" novel. Guess you'd better take that one off Clarke's science-fiction bibliography, ok?

Piers Anthony... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342646)

Funny you said that because I was just looking at my bookshelf last night and thinking "Who's going to buy all that crap? I can't post it for sale at work. The color of her panties?? Please."

Damn you Piers.

Oh for christ's sake (4, Insightful)

Mukaikubo (724906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342650)

Reviewer needs to get off his high horse. It's fine that you experienced a loss of faith or whatever the smeg changed for you, but don't insult the rest of us who still like the sci-fi you sneer at (ooohhh, space operas, how amusingly plebeian- give me a break).

Re:Oh for christ's sake (2, Funny)

rjelks (635588) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342681)

Shhhhhhhh, I liked the Zahn Starwars books.

-

Re:Oh for christ's sake (-1)

Trespass (225077) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342799)

Cool. Just don't call them 'science fiction'.

Re:Oh for christ's sake (1)

bad enema (745446) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342898)

Well, on the one hand you can immediately take offense to his opinion. On the other, you can take it as setting up emphasis for his praise on this particular book. But yeah, unbiased reviewers becoming scarce indeed.

Re:Oh for christ's sake (1, Flamebait)

tjic (530860) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342922)

Hey, this isn't a politically correct undergraduate liberal arts school love-fest, where diversity is the first and only good, where all opinions are wonderful, except those opinions that make other people feel bad.

The fact of the matter is that different artists are better or worse at what they do, and bending over backwards to molly coddle folks who still like creampuff science fiction does a disservice to them, and to anyone else who might read a review.

I'm not exactly sorry to say that Gene Wolfe and Michael Swanwick's work is radically different (and, yes, *better*) than _Xanth 49: More Puns about Panties and Ogres_.

I, for one, thank the original reviewer for a spot-on accurate review, which not only explains what's so right about _Singularity Sky_, but attempts to educate the reading public about what's wrong with most of the pulp that's published.

If you don't want to have your tastes developed to appreciate something a bit more sophisticated, fine: but don't call down the wrath of /. on someone who's trying to help you better yourself.

Re:Oh for christ's sake (3, Insightful)

Mukaikubo (724906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342977)

Help me better myself... where have I heard that before?

Anyway, if you look at the Ringworld cycle as juvenile, I have nothing but pity for you. If you disdain Manifold: Time and The Light of Other Days, I scorn you. And if you buy into the reviewer's hypothesis that a higher percentage of scifi sucks than ANY OTHER POP CULTURE FORMAT, I laugh at you.

Re:Oh for christ's sake (3, Interesting)

(trb001) (224998) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342957)

Agreed. While I would never give out an award for the writing in the Xanth series, it was creative and entertaining. Not every movie will receive an Oscar, but that doesn't mean that they aren't great in their own respect. Let me guess, you think heavy metal is 'lots of noise and stuff' too?

--trb

We seem a little tender today, don't we? (3, Insightful)

krilli (303497) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342980)

Come now, there's no need to let your feelings be hurt ... by a book review.

But still I agree with you, partly: badmouthing is not needed to contrast praise.

Re:We seem a little tender today, don't we? (1)

Mukaikubo (724906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343002)

I am sick and tired of people telling me what I shouldn't like.

But I enjoyed it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342654)

Piers Anthony may seem juvenile looking back; but you enjoyed it when you read it, didn't you? ....I know I did.

Don't knock Piers Anthony (5, Informative)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342656)

It is easy to knock the guy if you think he is 100% Xanth. However, this is the same guy responsible for "Macroscope" (Nebula award nomination). The Cluster/Tarot series is also a worthy effort, with imaginative aliens that beat Niven's creations. There is also "OX", a decent attempt to make a novel around John Conway's "Game of Life".

Re:Don't knock Piers Anthony (1)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342819)

In addition to some of the best short stories ever written, compiled into his "Anthanology"

Anthonology (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342872)

I was going to include "Anthonology", but wasn't sure it was 100% fantasy-free. I was listing only the science-fiction stuff.

Re:Don't knock Piers Anthony (2, Informative)

moving_comfort (677548) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342931)

Yes, Macroscope - one of my all-time favorite SF novels. P.A.'s existance is justified by this work.

Re:Don't knock Piers Anthony (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342963)

> It is easy to knock the guy if you think he is 100% Xanth

Funny you should say that. I read and loved 'OX' and rushed out to read 'Orn' and 'Omnivore'. I couldn't believe so many amazing ideas packed into one story.

Then, looking for more from this amazing writer, I read a Xanth novel. Oh well, anyone can make a mistake. Then I read another Xanth novel. I haven't touched Piers Anthony since. Stupid stories and characters who's sole reason for being in the book is to make a bad pun. What a waste of my time.
Since I didn't know if the next Piers Anthony novel I pick up will be crap or excellent I gave up on him.

Re:Don't knock Piers Anthony (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343005)

I read a Xanth novel. Oh well, anyone can make a mistake.

If you say that, then you don't realize that PA was parodying the entire Wizard of OZ/Land of OZ series of books, with an adult twist.

More to try (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343014)

Since I didn't know if the next Piers Anthony novel I pick up will be crap or excellent I gave up on him

Anthony writes on three levels: at the bottom, there is Xanth. At the middle, there is Incarnations of Immortality. At the top, there is Macroscope and Chthon. He's been doing through all his career.

If you enjoy OX/Orn/Omnivore, you might like "Kirlian Quest". Yes, it is the 3rd book of a trilogy, but I read it first myself and had no problem from that.

Remember to (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342661)

eat at Subway on Troll Tuesday, you cock-smoking teabaggers!

Great Read!! (-1, Redundant)

nil5 (538942) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342662)

I blazed through this book. It is playful, irreverent, consumed by more raw ideas and imaginative takes on traditional scifi tropes than I've seen in a dog's age. And it contains the most vivid spaceship command deck combat dialogue I've ever read. If you enjoy the occasional fat mouthful of jargon, you're going to find yourself chewing vigorously throughout Singularity Sky.

Mr. Stross is obviously having more fun in some parts of his writing than others, which while noticable, isn't fatal. I think the other reviewers should give this book another read without their Clarion baseball hats on, or at least with them loosened a few notches. Perfection isn't required for enjoyment - just energy and novelty. Maybe they were dissatisfied at the denouement to the Big Space Battle, but that was the point - sometimes, you don't get the lollypop.

Singularity Sky is about *bigness*, like John Clute's _Appleseed_, but more accessbile. It's full of little in-jokes and sly tech-culture references, doing for the IETF what _Silverlock_ did for filk. It baps around collectivism, the principles of sovereignty, mutation theory, spy techniques, nanotechnology, Newtonian physics, kangaroo courts, secret police, and a character straight out of a Gilbert and Sullivan production. Oi vey!

I liked it. I'm looking forward to his next book A Lot. He will only get better.

I'M A TATTLETAIL HAHAHA LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342734)

Parent is an Amazon Repost (2, Informative)

Entropy Unleashed (682552) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342775)

The parent link just reposted the spotlight review from Amazon, which is available here [amazon.com] .

Cool! (2, Insightful)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342676)

I'm always on the lookout for something different in the SF world. This review appears well done enough by not being all rosy, and instead focuses both on the pluses and minuses of the work. It has convinced me to at least look at the work for myself.
Thanks!

Ecology of Slashdot comments (2, Interesting)

PanamaCongress (632634) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342680)

Not off topic, but meta topic. Rarely do I get to see an interesting slashdot posting as it first appears. A moment of spare comments that allow me to post and comment. Unfortunately I have no interest to comment on this particular article -- but instead comment upon the peculiar way in which Slashdot articles resonate. Comments are a pyramid on slashdot. The earliest posters receive guaranteed exposure to meta-moderation. As the life of the posting grows, new comers, no matter how relevant their comments may be, are relegated to the end. New commenters should appear at the top rather than the bottom and be given a better opportunity for exposure and moderation. Thus people will see recent posts and posts that score highly. Hoorah

Re:Ecology of Slashdot comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342701)

Uhhhh, check yourself there homie. You have the option of sorting comments in either oldest or newest order. Nice try though...

Re:Ecology of Slashdot comments (1)

PanamaCongress (632634) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342789)

Thanks! But which is the default? =) Nicer try!

Re:Ecology of Slashdot comments (1)

PanamaCongress (632634) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342838)

Whether user control over comment sorting has any relevence would require a poll determining how many slashdotter actually utilize the feature.

Re:Ecology of Slashdot comments (2, Informative)

rjelks (635588) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342803)

While I agree with you in theory, you do realize that just because you haven't modified the default settings at the top of this page, others do set the page to "newest" on top. I like to customize it. I think people use most of their mod points on the newest story, so the old comments aren't read as much. You could stop wasting your time actually working and just visit the site more often. :)

-

What?! (1)

Orien (720204) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342884)

New commenters should appear at the top rather than the bottom and be given a better opportunity for exposure and moderation.

I really hope you know that you can change that, right? Right under the article and before the comments start there is this handly little section where you choose the sort order of the comments, and what moderation threshold you want to read at. And for even more control, if you don't like the defaults then you can CHANGE THEM IN YOUR PREFERENCES! Please tell me you knew that?!

Piers Anthony? (1)

LordoftheFrings (570171) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342684)

While agree much of his latest work is hogwash, in particular I really enoyedc the Battle Circle series. The characterization was weak, but the narration was quite good, IMO. Just saying, if you've never read any Piers Anthony, don't get the wrong impression from this. Some is good stuff.

Heinlein Doesn't Suck! (3, Insightful)

waif69 (322360) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342690)

I know that you were writing a review of a book, not written by Heinlein, but the comment that most SciFi sucks, IMHO is going overboard. OK, perhaps 30% is lousy, and that might go even higher if you compare everyone to the standards that Heinlein and Clark and Asimov had set.

Obviously I have a lot of respect for the authors stated above, since they all have stong scientific backgrounds and truly understand the human condition. I just had to respond, don't hate me for message.

Re:Heinlein Doesn't Suck! (4, Insightful)

bbsguru (586178) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342891)

Not all SF is classic literature?

Pshaw! next you'll try to tell us that not all reality television is real, or that pro Wrestling isn't a sport.

Most of everything is not the Best of anything. Get a clue. It's reading the rest that makes the best such a treasure.

And lay off Piers Anthony. He ain't Heinlein or Asimov, but neither is William Gibson. Nobody is. That's why Heinlein and Asimov are important.

Review that says nothing? (1)

MrBlue VT (245806) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342699)

I'm sorry, but this was less of a book review and more of a rant by the author on his view of the SF world. Sheesh, next time try to devote more than a sentence fragment to the book itself.

..the time spent reading anything by Piers Anthony (1)

burgburgburg (574866) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342702)

I look back on the time spent reading anything by Piers Anthony and know I'm going to be wishing I had those hours back when I'm older.

Groan.[embarrassed shudder]
Proust and Joyce? No, don't have the time. I'm reading another Xanth book, thank you.

I'll be skulking over there, for now.

1000 years of technological change in a month. (2, Funny)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342712)

and you thought the patent office was busy and overwhelmed now

Speaking of bad... (3, Funny)

Euphonious Coward (189818) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342716)

I just finished the worst book I have read in years -- "Chindi" by Jack McDermitt. It's awful from the very first line: "The Benjamin ... was at the extreme limit of its survey territory ..." Each chapter is worse than the last, each deft touch reveals it as the more tawdry. Chapters start with quotes from great but somehow sophomoric works of the 23rd century. The ship's captain is gorgeous but unfulfilled. Every character is bored with his or her life and life's work, desperate to relieve the tedium. Reading it was like watching a train wreck. Recommended, sort of.

Re:Speaking of bad... (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342983)

Have you read his other books? He seemed to do best when he was writing Sci-Fi mystery, but pretty much all of his books are very dry reads. I'd almost go as far as to say they're painful to read. I think the only reason I keep reading them is because he throws out enough intrigue to keep you interested after reflection.

I've sort of developed a "take it in small quantities" approach to his writing.

this sounds familiar! (1, Funny)

U.I.D 754625 (754625) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342725)

This Festival alien sounds like Linux, it gives us technological gifts in exchange for stealing IP!

try again (4, Insightful)

lambent (234167) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342727)

The whole "magic is indistinguishable ..." bit, as well as 'uploading' yourself into a computer, as well as 'let's see what happens when old fashioned cultures collide with new cultures' is all old hat. Already been done many times before.

This is nothing new. The man you extol as being a fresh creative force for the beleagured sci-fi genre is doing the same thing every author has done for the bast 80 years.

Re:try again (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342924)

Thank you. (Score:5, Amen)

Also, it would have been helpful if the reviewer named another author or novel that he felt stood the test of time. That would give us a data point so that we could have some idea if we could trust his judgment of fresh creative force.

And regarding the so-called singularity (2, Interesting)

Transient0 (175617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342939)

Try Permutation City by Greg Egan, Everyone in Silico by Jim Munroe [nomediakings.org] or Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect by Roger Williams [kuro5hin.org] .

MOPI is even available as a free text at the website. And these are just the three excellent examples that spring to mind, I know I've read at least a dozen other decent explorations of this unimaginable future.

War on drugs is killing me (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342729)

I'm addicted to alcohol and the way things are developing I'll soon end up dead with the cirrhosis of the liver.

I have found out that I can satisfy my addiction also by smoking dope. However, pot is seriously illegal where I live and getting it means having to deal with the organized crime. I'm not talking about potheads selling dope, but hardcore people who expect you to switch to heroin/meth after a few tries of pot.

This fucking sucks!

You put teh.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342730)

ween in teh coconut, and you move it up and down.

Try branching out.. (5, Informative)

bravehamster (44836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342746)

If you think that the majority of scifi sucks these days, you aren't looking very hard. Try Iain M. Banks, anything of his, and then look me in the eye and tell me scifi sucks. Ditto for Stephen Baxter, or David Brin, or Greg Bear or Gregory Benford. Hmm...that's a lot of B's....

Re:Try branching out.. (3, Insightful)

Mukaikubo (724906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342792)

The joke in the fandom community is that they're the "Killer Bees".

Baxter earned my unending adulation for whatever part of "The Light of Other Days" he contributed with Clarke, and "Manifold: Time" sealed the deal. Favorite writer of the 1990s for me.

richard morgan (1)

jeff munkyfaces (643988) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342888)

well, his first one anyway..

Re:Try branching out.. (4, Interesting)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342982)

Try Iain M. Banks, anything of his, and then look me in the eye and tell me scifi sucks. Ditto for Stephen Baxter, or David Brin, or Greg Bear or Gregory Benford. Hmm...that's a lot of B's....

That's also a lot of men. Try Octavia Butler.

Re:Try branching out.. (1)

QuijiboIsAWord (715586) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343020)

And if you really want to hammer yourself in the head with those authors, you can read the Second Foundation Trilogy (based on Asimov's Foundation stories) as all of the latter 3 wrote a book in that set. They did a slightly better job than the unauthorized "A Psychohistorical Crisis" novel..but not much.

Re:Try branching out.. (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343021)

Ditto for Stephen Baxter

Ugh. Mainfold: Time was so damned depressing that I've vowed never to read another book by him. It started off so good too. "Man will get to space, even if he has to do it illegally." Then it degraded into franken-squids, everyone dies, and the Universe ends. Exactly how is this an entertaining read?

Is this a book review? (3, Insightful)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342747)

Or is it general SF bashing? Most SF sucks, I hate this, I hate that, that is boring, ...
The fact is: most x suck, where x can be anything you like (TV programs, /. stories, people, hookers, ...). Get over it and stay on topic next time.

Re:Is this a book review? (3, Funny)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342985)

most x suck, where x can be anything you like (TV programs, /. stories, people, hookers, ...)

Hookers only suck when you pay extra.

Piers Annthony Science Fiction (0, Flamebait)

Culture (575650) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342749)

Piers Anthony is a pedophile (or at best a fantasy author), not a science fiction author.

Re:Piers Annthony Science Fiction (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342820)

not a science fiction author.

He's written more than 25 science-fiction novels (yes, that is excluding all the fantasy novels), some getting important genre awards or nominations.

Re:Piers Annthony Science Fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342845)

Where do you get pedophile from?
And what do you call his "Bio of a Space Tyrant" series, or his "Adept" series?
Methinks you're a troll, therefore, begone, dipshit.

Re:Piers Annthony Science Fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342923)

"Pedophile" is the new boogeyman term. It's similar to the cold war "communist" label. You can always identify the posers who don't have anything substantive to say by their use of that term.

Re:Piers Annthony Science Fiction (0)

namidim (607227) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342956)

There was a slashdot interview [slashdot.org] that raised a few eyebrows on that front

The Eschaton (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342757)

We all know that the singularity, the end of time as we know it, comes at Dec. 21st 2012. At least according to the Mayans and Terence McKenna.

There's far too little of McKenna on slashdot. If you all did what he did (eat 5grams of dried psilocybe cubensis mushrooms) you'd all see the singularity, and beyond, for yourselves.

And when you're older still... (4, Interesting)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342759)


...you'll look back on your Slashdot submission and realize what a pretentious uptight snob you were, and you'll wish you had the time back you spend shunning things that were actually entertaining.

Based on your review, I'll take Anthony over Stross:

There are problems with the book, mostly in the perennial bugbear of science-fiction, character development, but the rush of ideas glossed over that for me.

I'm sorry, I prefer a few good ideas and good characters versus poor characters and many ideas.

That all? (1)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342765)

I think timothy as age wears on will wish more than those hours spent reading sucky SF could be recouped.

With apologies to Emacs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8342773)

It's a excellent rant, now if someone would just write a decent book review for it.

A Colder War (5, Interesting)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342788)

If anybody is interested in seeing a glimpse of what this author can produce, his short story "A Colder War" is available online for free at http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/colderwar.ht m [infinityplus.co.uk] .

This story is one of the best I've ever read, and it's the only work of fiction I have ever encountered, on paper or on the screen, that actually managed to give me nightmares. Go read it if you haven't!

Piers Anthony (4, Insightful)

nicophonica (660859) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342839)

I do have one good thing to say about Pierce Anthony. I was reading him one day and suddenly a little thought balloon formed over my head which read: "This is crap." I threw the book down in disgust and learned a valuable lesson: it's not a moral failing to give up on a bad book. Quite the opposite, it a sin to reward a horrible writer by plowing threw dreck just to finish it.

Double edged sword (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342850)

Sci-Fi has always been a bit difficult for me. I love the ideas of building new technology, visiting new worlds, and finding out new things about the Universe. Above all though, it still should be entertaining.

Unfortunately, most Sci-Fi writers fall into two categories:

1. Taking the "human condition" to the extreme. Futures where sex is the only thing driving humanity. Of course, they're so much more advanced than us because everyone has sex with everyone.

I hate to break it to the authors, but this sort of society would quickly degrade due to a lack of scientific focus. Not to mention that human feelings on the subject are actually pretty immutable. (No matter what anyone says.)

One way or another, these books are no more entertaining than a porno flick.

2. Fantasy dressed up as Sci-Fi. I personally don't like Fantasy books all that much. But these books make it that much worse. Most of them have space travel as a background to get to a fantasy-like world. After that, forget about the Sci-Fi.

Once on the fantasy world, the laws of physics no longer apply. There aren't even social-political issues to work out. There's just some big quest for something. Or a, "look at how much better they are than humans." Blech.

Personally, I thought Heinlen's juveniles were the best examples of Sci-Fi. Rocket Ship Galileo, The Rolling Stones, and Time for the Stars inspired those of us who wanted to some day reach the stars. Which is amusing since so many of his adult books fell into the categories above.

Here's what I'd like to see: Someone should write a series of books on what space would be like if we developed nuclear engines. (Orion, NERVA, GCNR, M2P2, NSWR, etc.) Build a grand story around the concepts and push the public to make it happen. We always see space as far in the future. It doesn't have to be!

An even better bit of Sci-Fi would be a television movie showing the conflicts of developing the first nuclear launch methods. The struggle between the pro and anti nuclear groups. Showing how far people are willing to go for their beliefs. And the results of finally reaching the stars.

Re:Double edged sword (3, Informative)

Mukaikubo (724906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343041)

Although it doesn't involve nuclear engines, I'd recommend the Firestar series by... um... Flynn. (I can't get to a search engine or Amazon, so working off memory- if Flynn fails, search for Firestar).

It's about, in extremely broad terms, how mankind goes from more or less current state to one where space travel is accepted as routine, unremarkable, and cheap, there's several large space stations in orbit, et cetera et cetera... basically, every space geek's dream of what could happen in the next 50 years.

For the love of God, though, stop after Rogue Star, the second book. The last two are a dramatic dropoff in quality.

Other books with same theme.. (4, Informative)

deego (587575) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342877)

I have "singularity sky" but haven't read most of it.

BTW, here's my list of other novels with the singularity theme, many of them online. Each link below contains link to many others...Let me know of other I missed. My favorite remains MOPI:
MOPI [kuro5hin.org]

link [gnufans.net]

link [sl4.org]

link [msn.com]

link [nanotech-now.com]

link [unizh.ch]

link [aleph.se]

link [singularityawareness.com]

link [antipope.org]

link [netspace.net.au]

Thelamenessfilter wants mroe comments per line Thelamenessfilter wants mroe comments per line
Thelamenessfilter wants mroe comments per line
Thelamenessfilter wants mroe comments per line
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Re:Other books with same theme.. (1)

deego (587575) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342903)

> I have "singularity sky" but haven't read most of it.

I didn't mean to imply anything bad about the novel. Just meant that haven't YET read most of it, since i recently aquired it..

If You're Unhappy with SF... (3, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342906)

If you're unhappy with the state of SF, perhaps you've just been reading the wrong SF. I am not yet nearly so ready to consign away the entire field (with the exception of a few remaining choice nuggets) as you sound to be. This may well be an excellent book, however there remain more worthwhile books and authors out there to read that I've already discovered (and don't yet have time for) for me to believe SF is a dying field.

And as another person who has also read a great deal of Mr. Piers Anthony Jacob's works, he entertains well, and often slips in useful observations on life. (A certain RAH was also known for that once upon a time.) He entertained you well once, or you wouldn't have kept reading him.

To want those hours back now (or someday) is to say that time spent reading is not time well spent. I respectfully disagree, although time spent writing is even better time spent. What else would you have done during that time really that would have been better for you now? Split your time between reading the Encyclopedia Britannica and running cross-country to improve your health? I think not!

And if P.A. Jacob no longer meets your reading needs, it is not because he has changed, but rather you have. This is not a bad thing for either you -- or him.

Regardless, you have succeeded in interesting me in this book, and I'll add it to my list as well. However your reasoning behind it seems less than universal.

And consider reading some authors who only publish on the Internet. Some ideas are too leading edge to sell to editors and publishers. That's how I found this sig line.

Peace!

why knock down others in a "Review"? (4, Insightful)

emptybody (12341) | more than 10 years ago | (#8342913)

Sorry sir, you lost me.

Your introduction slams other authors for no aparent good reason. If you are reviewing a book you can easily say it is better or worse, in your opinion, than some other works.

It is not necessary to drag in some other persons works and knock them down.

Suckage (1)

zaxus (105404) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343023)

I think the real question is, does a greater percentage of Sci-Fi suck then the general percentage of suckage in everything else. And I think the answer is probably no. The general rule is that 80% of everything is crap, seek the 20%. If this book is truly part of that 20%, I'd be interested in reading it.
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