The Singularity. It is the era of the posthuman. Artificial intelligences have surpassed the limits of human intellect. Biotechnological beings have rendered people all but extinct. Molecular nanotechnology runs rampant, replicating and reprogramming at will. Contact with extraterrestrial life grows more imminent with each new day.
Struggling to survive and thrive in this accelerated world are three generations of the Macx clan: Manfred, an entrepreneur dealing in intelligence amplification technology whose mind is divided between his physical environment and the Internet; his daughter, Amber, on the run from her domineering mother, seeking her fortune in the outer system as an indentured astronaut; and Sirhan, Amber’s son, who finds his destiny linked to the fate of all of humanity.
For something is systematically dismantling the nine planets of the solar system. Something beyond human comprehension. Something that has no use for biological life in any form...
©2005 Charles Stross (P)2014 Recorded Books
It is as if my engineering and physics degrees, and every other SF book I've ever read were training grounds preparing me for this book. Throwaway lines about quantum 3d printing (i.e. Captain Picard's replicators), Robert Forward laser sail starships, Frank J. Tipler computational resurrection, fixed-up Matrix plot-lines, nano-tech, Dyson spheres, Fermi's Paradox...all feeling like plausible speculation of taking Moore's law to the Singularity and beyond. And the author pretty much takes for granted you, the humble reader, know about all of these things, and more. But...this author makes it feel like these threads could really happen and weaves them into a story with interesting characters.
The feeling of realistic (pretty much?) speculation of modern day physics and Moore's law and extrapolating the hell out of it, with every plausible hard SF plot device thrown in. I loved being able to keep up with the author and where he took it. Mind expanding, IMHO. Probably not for everyone...this novel is for hard-SF science/engineering nerds who love to nitpick science fiction movies.
The narrator was distinctive and interesting, and hung in there like a champ for some of the more obscure bits.
The Matrix for serious people...
there is about a 30 minute chunk at about hour 13 that is out of order.
It's a slog, to be blunt, as an audio book at least. You'll soon realize that what makes it difficult is the rather whiplash back and forth, both in the timeline, and between versions of the characters. As is often the case audio book producers have yet to master the art of the pause that gives the listener cues to when a scene changes. It's an especially pronounced in this reading.
What makes it worth the struggle, however, is that this book goes further in imaging the machinations of a post-singularity solar system than any other. It even extends to thoughtful consideration of the implications of the singularity on interstellar travel and first contact.
It's a complex story and you have to take care to keep the many small segments of the various plot lines strung together into contiguous threads, but it does make for a compelling and epic story of a sort that other authors seemingly fear to attempt.
I like to read
I read the book a few years ago and loved it, and recently after attending Singularity University, listened to the audio version. I enjoyed the audio version more. George Guidall does a great job narrating and doing each of the character voices.
The story is fascinating, funny and intense - accelerating at a sometimes dizzying pace which keeps with the pace of a post-singular civilization.
The rich texture of the story plotline and details are a joy to listen to; your imagination just surfs along on this wave of beautifully written complex detail.
George Guidall brings all the characters to full life, with no jarringly false "voices" just to distinguish characters.
I enjoy Stross's books. And I enjoyed Guidall's narration of American Gods. But this combination just doesn't work for me. Guidall has a problem with the accents and British slang, but that's not a deal breaker. The insurmountable issue for me is that he reads in a very fractured way, inserting long pauses randomly in sentences with amazing frequency, making the story hard to follow.
From what I managed to gather, this is a pretty interesting story, but getting past this narration style was just too hard to make the process enjoyable.
I've been writing software for over twenty years. Most of the books in my collection are science fiction or computer related materials.
As a professional in the field of software development I can find myself loving the idea of this story. The mistake was in choosing George Guidall to narrate it as it makes the story extremely difficult to follow!
I mean no offense to Mr. Guidall, but his performance in this book is horrific. It's nearly impossible to tell which character is speaking as George seem to make little to no effort to change the voice or otherwise help the listener keep who is speaking straight. It's also extremely difficult to know when a specific scene changes, often times we're in a totally different place but I was left thinking we were back at the previous location. I mean no offense to Mr. Guidall, but his lackluster performance destroyed this story for me.
I would love to see a revision to this book with a different narrator. Please strongly consider having this re-read by someone who knows when to pause, knows how to tell the listener who is speaking and is able to to keep things coherent to help prevent the utter feeling of confusion while listening. The story itself has huge potential, it's unfortunate that George's performance was at best sub-par as it made the story quite difficult to follow and wound up causing me to say: "What in the...!?!?" many times.
Say something about yourself: because everyone really wants to know?
It's not his best. It starts off with a rehash of Lobsters and then develops themes from his other books. But it lacks the humor of the Laundry series, and the grittiness of Halting State and Rule 34.
I secretly liked Pam, she's certainly not the lead, but she drives all the action.
It could be, but I wouldn't waste the time to watch it.
Reading Fantasy and SCI-FI on audible.
I read this book on my quest to finish all the Locus award winners. I am beginning to realize that the Locus award is for those books that don't make the Hugo or Nebula. This book is like listening to a someone list off all the computer terms invented over the past thirty years, and then try to make that a book. As someone in that field, I was very disappointed. While there were moments where the book could have been great, the author never took advantage of them. In the end, the author looks like he is trying to show how smart he is and how current his knowledge without ever actually getting to the story.
There are some pretty cool concepts (uploading one's brain, artificial beings, inter-galatic civilizations. But the author never really takes advantage. In a way, this is sort of a comedy for those who know the terms. I would avoid this book.
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