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Editorial Reviews

It's the late 30th century, and mankind has splintered into diverse beings: the human fleshers, the Gleisner robots, and the artificially intelligent polises. Polis orphan Yatima has traveled back to Earth as an interstellar disaster is about to destroy the planet, beginning a monumental struggle for survival. Greg Egan explores issues of human identity in a future world. It's a heady concept that is grounded by Adam Epstein, whose sober and clear-headed approach - as well as his judicious use of accents to delineate the characters - makes Diaspora a fascinating exploration of human existence.

Publisher's Summary

Behold the orphan. Born into a world that is not a world. A digital being grown from a mind seed, a genderless cybernetic citizen in a vast network of probes, satellites, and servers knitting the Solar System into one scape, from the outer planets to the fiery surface of the Sun. Since the Introdus in the 21st century, humanity has reconfigured itself drastically. Most chose immortality, joining the polises to become conscious software.

Others opted for gleisners: Disposable, renewable robotic bodies that remain in contact with the physical world of force and friction. Many of these have left the Solar System forever in fusion drive starships.

And there are the holdouts. The fleshers left behind in the muck and jungle of Earth - some devolved into dream-apes; others cavorting in the seas or the air; while the statics and bridges try to shape out a roughly human destiny.

But the complacency of the citizens is shattered when an unforeseen disaster ravages the fleshers, and reveals the possibility that the polises themselves might be at risk from bizarre astrophysical processes that seem to violate fundamental laws of nature. The Orphan joins a group of citizens and flesher refugees in a search for the knowledge that will guarantee their safety - a search that puts them on the trail of the ancient and elusive Transmuters, who have the power to reshape subatomic particles, and to cross into the macrocosmos, where the universe we know is nothing but a speck in the higher-dimensional vacuum.

©2013 Greg Egan (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    76
  • 4 Stars
    60
  • 3 Stars
    30
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    8

Performance

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    46
  • 4 Stars
    40
  • 3 Stars
    37
  • 2 Stars
    21
  • 1 Stars
    25

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    83
  • 4 Stars
    49
  • 3 Stars
    21
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    7
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ben
  • traralgon, Australia
  • 12-08-13

Fabulous Story, Disappointing Performance

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would recommend the story to a friend if they were up to the conceptual challenges the plot contains. Egan's intricacy of detail is extremely worth persevering with, but it's dense and some passages require close scrutiny. I would not, however, recommend this recording to a friend (see later answers).

Who was your favorite character and why?

This is hard Sci-Fi. It's characters are not its strong feature. As such it's heavily concept driven, and you read it for those, not for character-development. In the constraints of the genre however, I thought they were all suited to their roles, but I don't have a favourite.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I originally read this as an e-book. I was fascinated to know how a professional narrator would move through this story, dealing with its esoterica: from the subject-specific jargon to the neutral personal pronouns. This would be a challenging read for any narrator; we are immersed in a world and assume the viewpoints of its inhabitants, who don't think it's strange at all. Egan creates this effect beautifully. So far I've skipped through the audiobook only, but so far I've been appalled. The pace is slow and is sufficiently lacking in phrasing as to make it an uncomfortable listening experience, to the point where it is difficult to know what words belong with what. It also makes what was quite a surreal read positively dreary and painful. The books own conventions were clearly poorly understood, leading to uneven emphasis, and a general plodding relentlessness to the delivery. A book with Diaspora's object and Diaspora's target audience, requires much more pre reading, linguistic and typographical care, and general attention to detail than has been demonstrated by this performance.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

I think that this book would be totally ruined by a movie adaptation. It's so in-the-mind that to have the details dished up for you would completely miss the point.

Any additional comments?

One of the best Hard Science Fiction stories I've read in years. One of the most mediocre audio-performances as well. Had I known I would have saved my credit for another title. May it be a lesson to me to preview things before checking out.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Love Egan, don't care for the narrator

What disappointed you about Diaspora?

The ve/vis pronouns take a little getting used to, but other than that no complaints.

Would you be willing to try another one of Adam Epstein’s performances?

This is the second book I've tried to get through by Adam Epstein and I would not be willing to try another of his attempts at narration. The voices he does are overly cartoonish and grating and he mispronounces words constantly. If he's going to narrate so many of Greg Egan's books, he could take a few minutes to figure out how to properly pronounce things.

Any additional comments?

Thankfully someone else narrates my favorite of Egan's books, Schild's Ladder.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • VK
  • 05-13-17

Sucks.

The narrator just kills your soul. DULL, monotonous, with no sense of emotion, bizarre cadence, like some stoned high school kid reading an essay in class.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Adam's Curse

Strike three of the Kindle-Audible sale books. Egan is very interesting...until you hear it from the mouth of this reader.

If only the energy of his introductions flowed into his reading of the text...might be able to listen to this.

But...you get what you paid for (and I paid $1.99 for this...and the other two)

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars

Narration is a deal breaker

I have no idea how good the story is, as the narration is so horrible that I couldn't listen to more than 15 minutes. It is monotone and halting, like the reader doesn't understand what he's reading, or is reciting a recipe. Very disappointing.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, Terrible performance

one of the worst reading performances I've ever heard, did some serious damage to the book

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jason
  • Des Moines, IA
  • 04-23-14

Do you have the program to enjoy this book?

Very "hard" sci-fi, Diaspora's main characters are AIs, the protagonist being "born" early on. They can run points of view that allow them to enjoy a work of art as if it were someone else perceiving it for instance. There's no faster than light travel and this isn't a space opera, it's an introspective tale of exploration.

If you're frustrated with science fiction that let action get in the way of rigorous explanations of the science behind what's going on, this book is for you!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

One-third Amazing, One-third OK, One-third Poor

"Diaspora" by Greg Egan (1997) is of mixed quality. The novel was written to fit around a short story that Egan published earlier, "Wang's Carpets." That short story appears as Chapter 11.

From the start of the book through the end of Chapter 6 (Parts 1 and 2), Diaspora offers some of the best science fiction I've listened to. It is chock full of fascinating ideas, the plot is engaging and exciting, and you care deeply about the characters.

Chapter 11, "Wang's Carpets," is another bright, high point in the audiobook.

Unfortunately, these high-quality sections only make up about a third of the novel. The remaining chapters are of much lower quality, and that quality gradually diminishes further as the end of the novel approaches. The important characters become less and less relateable, and Egan spends too much time philosophizing over fictional mathematics and physics. The last third of the book is a wild goose chase, whose ultimate conclusion is deeply unsatisfying and more than faintly ridiculous. I was left feeling cheated, as though Egan demonstrated his tremendous ideas and ability, then strung me along, promising more and failing to deliver.

It is difficult to assign a star rating to a book with both excellent and disappointing segments. I ultimately decided to award four stars, which I consider a generous rating for a book that was one-third excellent, one-third mediocre, and one-third poor.

While some reviewers complained about the narrator, I found nothing wrong with Adam Epstein's narration. It seemed perfectly normal and acceptable to me, and I found his use of voices to distinguish different characters helpful (and similar to what other audiobook narrators do).

If you wish to experience the good parts of Diaspora, you are in luck: Parts 1 and 2 (chapters 1 through 6) stand on their own as a self-contained story. You can listen to these chapters and then stop. Or, if you prefer, you can read from chapter 1 through chapter 11, which will cover all of the book's high points while avoiding the worst parts, which come near the end. If you proceed all the way through, you will find that nuggets of value become increasingly scarce, lost in a seemingly five-dimensional scape of bland text.

If you are interested in Diaspora, consider "Blindsight" by Peter Watts, a story that has a similar style but is strong from beginning to end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Unbearable Narration

I tried to power through this book twice and both times I just couldn't make it. As stated in other reviews, the narration is frankly the worst i've heard - add to that the sometimes essay like descriptions of physics and math and you have a pretty tedious read. I love hard sci-fi, but the author at times seemed more interested in showing how cleaver he was rather than moving the plot along. The premise of the book is very interesting, unfortunately I will probably never know how it ends.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting story

Although my mind tuned in and out as things were discussed and explained that seemed to surpass my understanding of what the heck characters in the book were talking about, the over arching story was interesting and thought provoking.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • C. Maggs
  • 06-11-16

Awful Narration!

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I was recommended this book as I am a fan of hard science fiction such as the works of Asimov, Poul Anderson and Arthur C Clarke. However the experience was ruined for me by poor narration. The guys voice is monotonous and annoying. I couldn't bear it so I stopped listening. Perhaps I'll read a hard copy or e-book version in the future since the premise of the story seems interesting.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Paul Matthews
  • 10-07-18

Boring and poorly structured

Made 2 attempts at this but was not rewarded for the effort. Scientific self-flagellation. Author seems to have forgotten that someone might try to read it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-23-18

Beautiful book

This is a Hard science fiction book. So be prepared for alot of dense physics and complicated concepts.
That said, it is one of the best sci-fi novels I've ever read. it's scope is mind bogglingly epic and the world building is superb.
The civilization and technology are extremely well thought out and beautifully written. I would it give it 10 stars if I could.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sandra
  • 04-28-18

Love the story, don't like the preformance

I'd read this book before listening to it, and I knew I love it still I struggled to get into this. I can't suggest this as a way of getting acquainted with the book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Chavdar Parushev
  • 01-09-18

Hard science fiction as its best

I would have given the book 6 stars if I could. It pushes the limits of the genre. it pushes the limits of what's possible by systematic thinking in literary form. A book that tries to encompass a posthuman scape stretching from horizon to horizon. Sci fi as hard and precious as diamond.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • villageidiot
  • 06-10-16

Ultra-deep Sci-fi.

I've read nothing quite like it. It throws the physics text-book at you but still imagines an incredibly comprehensive future for humanity.