Singularity Sky

Singularity Sky

by Charles Stross

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In a technologically suppressed future, information demands to be free in the debut novel from Hugo Award-winning author Charlie Stross.

In the twenty-first century, life as we know it changed. Faster-than-light travel was perfected, and the Eschaton, a superhuman artificial intelligence, was born. Four hundred years later, the far-flung colonies that arose as a result of these events—scattered over three thousand years of time and a thousand parsecs of space—are beginning to rediscover their origins.               

The New Republic is one such colony. It has existed for centuries in self-imposed isolation, rejecting all but the most basic technology. Now, under attack by a devastating information plague, the colony must reach out to Earth for help. A battle fleet is dispatched, streaking across the stars to the rescue. But things are not what they seem—secret agendas and ulterior motives abound, both aboard the ship and on the ground. And watching over it all is the Eschaton, which has its own very definite ideas about the outcome...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780441011797
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/29/2004
Series: Singularity Series , #1
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 581,982
Product dimensions: 6.74(w) x 10.92(h) x 0.94(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Charles Stross was born in Leeds, England, in 1964. He has worked as a pharmacist, software engineer and freelance journalist, but now writes full-time. To date, Stross has won three Hugo Awards and been nominated twelve times. He has also won the Locus Award for Best Novel, the Locus Award for Best Novella, and has been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke and Nebula Awards. His books include the Merchant Princess series, the Laundry Files series, the Singularity series, and several stand-alone novels.

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Singularity Sky 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
During the mid-twenty first century, a superhuman intelligence that calls itself the Echelon makes it¿s presence known to the inhabitants of Earth in a big way. Nine of the ten billion people on Earth disappear and it is discovered that they are involuntary colonists on thousands of worlds. The Eschaton warns the humans that if they try and figure out causality (time travel) and use it, they will be destroyed.

When one planet did exactly that, the Eschaton destroyed thirty planets making up that solar system. The empire of the New Republic wants no part of advanced technology and it keeps the inhabitants in the member worlds on a level with Tsarist Russia. One of the most technologically backward planets of The New Republic, Rochard¿s World, is being deluged by an information plague known as the Festival. The fatherland planet is sending its warships to destroy the festival but two people onboard one of the starships have a different agenda that must be carried out if they don¿t want the Eschaton to take hostile action.

SINGULARITY SKY is a fascinating space opera that immediately grabs and keeps the attention of the reader. The Eschaton is an ingenious concept and it would be terrific if the author would write another book involving it at a more intimate level. The idea of the Festival, a non-sentient communication repair machine is very original and it is interesting to see how the people of Rochard¿s world react to the information overload. Charles Stross is a very creative and innovative storyteller.

Harriet Klausner

ennui2342 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have a love/hate relationship with Stross. He often is at the forefront of new ideas, but I can find the narritive often descending into farce breaking the suspension of disbelief.This book had a certain anticlimax to it which contributed to finishing with an overall sense of pointlessness. However, maybe this reflects its nature as the first of a series.
stevencudahy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A rollercoaster ride through a brilliantly imagined post-singularity future. Stross writes with a tongue-in-cheek style, loose and quick-witted, and although he's far from a ground-breaking stylist, the prose is decent enough to draw you through the adventures.Although the narrative is inventive, action-packed, and in places laugh-out-loud funny, the characters feel a little flat throughout. But this is more a novel of ideas than a story about real people, and Stross handles his theme - the effects on a rigid, primitive society of sudden contact with and alien species and access to anything people could want - well enough. There's nothing startlingly original here, and the swathes of technobabble may distance some readers, but as a first novel goes this was a credible effort, and shows promise for future works from a man who seems to be publishing a new novel every few weeks.
felius on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an enjoyable read, with a fast pace and some great characters. It has some very funny moments, with humour which at times verges on Pythonesque - however it's no comedy, and offers some interesting observations on how people (and economies, and political institutions) might react when suddenly exposed to technology which renders almost every aspect of their society obsolete.At times I felt the humour was out of place, and at others I wanted more of it. Sometimes I wanted more political intrigue, and sometimes I just wanted more on the space-based warfare. I didn't really know what I wanted from this book, and the author seemed determined to give me a bit of everything.While the style is all over the place, the result is satisfying. There's a story to be told and we do get there in the end.This was the first book I've read by this author, and I'll definitely be coming back for more.
baltazargabka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this complex cultural and political SciFi thriller very much. Stross has put a lot of effort into the (para)scientific descriptions of the alternative space travel technologies. All of this super-science is offset against the antiquated, 19th cenutry-like, reality of the planet where the action takes place. The concept of Festival, the enigmatic and anarchistic entity behind the plot line is just amazing. Stross's flavour for social justice and disdain for the distopia of his own creation are a rare gift among today's SciFi writers.
reading_fox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Meh. Far from Stross's best work. The plot doesn't really work - which given that it's a time travel parody isn't that surprising - but the intersection between the steampunk colony and the more nanotech based rest of the universe is also rather poor. In attempting to parody or at least highlight the shortcomings of a socialist style society, Stross spends far too long belabouring the point, telling instead of showing. When he does show us things he too frequently descends into farce, which doesn't help an SF book get taken seriously.Two main storylines are interwoven. Michael is an outside engineer on contract to the steampunk age Republic, fixing thier starships when word arrives that one of their colonies has been "attacked". Rachel is a diplomat on board with him - from the UN of all places - overseeing the causality laws.Everything follows pretty much as you'd expect. The second plotline follows the fate of the colony world, it's imperial rulers and a cell of counterrevolutionaries, as the attackers - a distant human offshoot called the Festival unpack from their microships and transform matter upon request in exchange for any information. Too little information is ever given about the set-up of the universe, which doesnt help explain it all, however Stross goes into quite excrutiating imaginary details about the different technologies at various points. This can work as a style but Stross fails to manage to do so, focusing on the outlandish bits rather than elegant summaries of possabiltiies. Likewise he dweels far too long on the vectors and g-forces of various in-system objects. No reader will be able to keep track of htese - unless they're modeling the system in realtime on a PC. Hence the book would be much easier to read if all the numbers weer ditched, and reported as "heading towards us really fast captain!". Similarly the various political ideologies get forced onto us in some detail, and whilst I'm sure these likewise contained various errors, they were too dull to read, so I skipped them. For no readily explainable reason many of the tropes created by the Festival end up resembling fairy tale characters. Maybe the story would have worked better if the reason for this had been laid out more clearly. The ending though does resolve most of hte plot points and neatly sets up a sequel - something I doubt I'll bother with.Readable. Probably enjoyable for rightwing timetravel steampunk fans, but he's written a lot better.
NogDog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good story that moved along pretty well. It was in the same vein as Stross's other "Singularity" books, though perhaps more accessible than some. My only real complaint is that the conclusion seemed a bit weak, not leaving me feeling truly satisfied.
jasonpettus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)I recently had the chance to acquire every single book ever written by trippy sci-fi author Charles Stross, and so have decided to spend the year actually reading and reviewing them here for the blog; and I've decided to read them in chronological order, too (or, the general books by chronological order, then take on the themed series one at a time), which means that first up is his 2003 novel debut Singularity Sky, which along with his other early classic Accelerando are the ones that really first established him as a major genre force, and that helped cement the cliche of the SF "British Invasion" of the early 2000s. And so that's what makes it an even bigger shock than normal to find out that the novel is not a serious-minded brainteaser, like I think of whenever I think of the other Stross novels I've already read, but rather a very funny absurdist comedy along the lines of late-period Robert Heinlein. Not actually a story about Ray Kurzweil's famous theory of the "Singularity" (that is, the moment in the future that computers gain sentience, and thus usher in a new blazingly fast era for humanity where the mechanical and the biological blur into unrecognizable forms), the novel instead takes this Singularity moment as its historical start, and the fact that humans quickly figure out how to time-travel, at which point a mysterious alien force known as the Eschaton literally create a human diaspora to stop such development, by taking 90 percent of Earth's population and magically scattering them on various inhabitable worlds across the cosmos, these people now free to develop whatever kinds of societies they want but with "the big E" stepping in again whenever a "law of causality" is about to be broken, doing things like wiping out entire star systems to ensure that these stupid hairless apes don't accidentally erase the universe's existence.Our actual tale, then, takes place hundreds of years after the events just described, when this scattered humanity have formed an endless series of different governments, tech capabilities, and even corporeal forms; to be specific, it's the story of a race of post-human creatures known as "The Festival" who exist mostly as forms of pure information as they travel the cosmos, who literally create new fantastical bodies whenever they stop at a new star system, then proceed to create a kind of benevolent chaos in that new system for awhile (the actual "Singularity Sky" of the book's title), swapping unheard-of technology for new info about the universe from that new system before finally getting their fill, dumping their temporary bodies, and taking off again for yet another century-long flight to the next habitable system, in this case the recipients being a militaristic quasi-fascist colonial dictatorship who shun technology and who clearly resemble the Bush administration that was in power when this novel was first published in the US. As always with Stross, this is a lot of infodump to take in at once, with the above recap only scratching the surface of this expansive storyline, and with my promise that the whole thing becomes much clearer once you read the actual book; but like I said, the biggest surprise is that Stross plays all this mostly for laughs, a sort of ridiculous adventure tale about a backwards military that purposely builds outdated tech into their warships for the purpose of "tradition," and who then tries to fight a conventional war against a group that can barely fathom what the concept of "war" even is, and who are so technologically advanced over their opponents that they see the traditional battles as little more than you or I swatting at a pesky fly on a hot summer day. I know this all sounds a bit disjointed in a small write-up like this, but tru
baswood on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A science fiction novel with much hard science. Only some of it worked for me and I struggled to read it in parts.
voodoochilli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well maybe it's just me but I got bored of this book about 3/4 of the way in. I thought maybe I should just keep reading till the end, but I just couldn't do it. There's some great ideas here, but the story seemed a bit confused and I found it difficult to remember all of the characters, let alone relate to them. I read this book after someone said it was like Vernor Vinge's Fire Upon the Deep. I disagree. Also I would say if you want to read a Stross novel, check out Glasshouse which is awesome.
fishton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked the premise, the story and the characters. Unfortunately the technical explanations he goes into were, at least for me, very tedious and distracted from the story's flow. Parts of the book were like reading a user's manual. But over all the story won out in the end.
PortiaLong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mr. Stross has a number of really good and clever ideas and an engaging style. However this book felt "crowded" as though he was trying to put all of his good ideas into one novel and didn't have the space to fully develop them. In Heinlein's For Us the Living (his first novel, published posthumously) - you can see all of the ideas that Heinlein later filled out in his dozens of later works. I get that same feeling reading this book - I would like to see what Mr. Stross does when he takes ONE of these balls and rolls with it, rather than trying to keep them all in the air.
reannon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's been a long time since I read hard science fiction, and keeping up with the science and technology was quite hard. But Stross's vision is as interesting in political theory as scientific. It juxtaposes two cultures, one more advanced that is making no government work (the anarchist's dream), and one that has reverted to almost a feudal society. Everything changes by contact with the Festival, not a society at all but an information-gathering colossus with amazing technology they share in return for stories.The man characters are appealing. It is a real brain-stretcher of a book.
NickCato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stross' dazzling space epic works on so many levels---his latent humor is a great break from the (at times) mind-numbing technobabble. Aside from its underlying NWO agenda (!!!), this is a great ride.
clong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a strong first novel with lots of good things going for it. If features writing that feels effortless, a fast pace that keeps you turning pages, good and often quite original ideas, and occasional moments of surprise and humor. Indeed this book reminded me a bit of something you might read from Iain M. Banks, although Stross neither uses as broad a canvass nor seems as comfortable with ambiguity.Having said all that, the thing that, for me, kept this from being a really great novel was the characters. Martin and Rachel are likable enough, but neither is particularly deep and neither seemed to grow much in the face of some fairly astonishing experiences. Characters like Vasily and Burya and for that matter all of the citizens of the New Republic felt more like caricatures than real people. The book would have been much more powerful if I had really cared about what happened to these two in particular. The few denizens of the Festival that we meet seemed to offer lots of potential for intriguing development, but never got much. Since I never really connected well to any of the characters, I never really rooted for them or cared that much about which side won (not that Stross ever gave of any reason to doubt the final outcome).Beyond that, I¿d say that as a society, the New Republic felt a lot too simplistic, and what happens after the climactic battle came as a bit of a let down. Still, I¿ll definitely plan to read more from this author.
bezoar44 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This well written and enjoyable space opera combines dry satire with steady, romantic adventure. Like Vernor Vinge's Fire Upon the Deep and Deepness in the Sky (although those are better), Singularity Sky takes a basically humanist view of a future in which human beings are minor actors in the cosmos but are the main characters in the story. The two dominant post-human actors are the Eschaton, an artificial intelligence of godlike power that forbids time travel; and the Festival, about which the less said the better, as the unfolding of its nature is one of the pleasures of reading the book. Adding acid to the tale, Stross' satire mocks the notion that government can control the flow of ideas without bringing about its own demise. The book's faith that 'information wants to be free' may be naive, but it makes for a satisfying story. The bigger challenge is that, in a future where humans are insignificant compared to the real powers, an author must choose between letting events play out within this framework -- in which case the actions of the characters can't matter all that much in a cosmic sense -- or pumping up the characters until they reach a kind of superhuman status so the climax can turn on their decisions, even if that seems inconsistent with the way the story says the world works. The way Stross handles this felt somewhat clunky as I was reading, but in retrospect is probably as good a solution as any other post-singularity story I've read.
Caragen87 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The future in this story is a taut, almost understandable form, and in the next instant. . .alien. This page turner has a sardonic humor to it that will keep the reader's mind pausing with intense attempts to viscerally imagine what you've just read.
etimme on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Too heavily scifi for me.Singularity Sky takes place in the wake of a technological singularity that leaves mankind strewn across the galaxy by an artificial intelligence. As ever, Stross seeds his novel with thought provoking concepts backed by a firm foundation of cause-and-effect (you'll find very little real "magic" in his books) that keep the reader interested, but I think he sacrificed the characters in his book at the altar of technology. His characters felt like cardboard cutouts needed only to advance the plot to the multi-page, technology heavy descriptions of space battles. The author has a tendency to use dialogue in a heavy handed way to advance the plot and flesh out concepts in a way I found jarring. Also, as with Halting State, I found his use of multiple viewpoints ineffective. He has firm roots as a short story writer, and it feels as though he starts with a great novella and transforms it into a full length novel by adding another viewpoint in a very inorganic way.
ShellyS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perhaps I'm just too old for this, but I couldn't make heads of tails of it. Too much theory, too many big ideas, not enough character and emotion for me.
Shrike58 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read seven of Stross' novels before I read this one, and that was a serious mistake. One reason is because this is a very entertaining read, as an isolated post-disaster civilization that's a farcical, steam-punk, take on the Russian Empire is steam-rollered by a super-technology force that is beyond the comprehension of the autocrats. However, I would also have had a better understanding of the basic themes and tropisms that pop up in the following stories that Stross has written. There's the low-key hero who is simply trying to do the right thing. There's the put-upon woman of action, seething under the pressure of stupid gender expectations. There's the fascination with espionage and secret operatives. And, of course, there is then the whole matter of coping when your world is turned upside down, and you had better have an intellectual break-though, or else. I really have nothing critical to say about the book, though I can see where the many info dumps could put off some readers.
AsYouKnow_Bob on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Terrific stuff. Owes a bit to Banks and MacLeod, but madly inventive: sensawonder space battles with post singularity AIs, Ruritarian conservatives, soviet revolutionaries... a wonderful debut.
chayla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sci fi which was somewhat hard to follow, and tried to be philosophical, but nevertheless, was funny and inventive. Imagine an invading force called the Festival which bombards the world with working telephones.
dgphilli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked the book, and I very much like the post-singularity world scenarios in which scarcity is a thing of the past -- how do we as humans react to our environment. Understandably some people , like the New Republic society in this novel, are hesitant to adapt to cornucopia technology.A god-like creature known as the Eschaton divides Earth society up and carves out an interstellar society with one main rule - no causality violations (don't travel into the past and screw up the existing present.)In short, a showdown between UN inspector Rachel Mansour and an engineer, Martin Springfield need to sabotage the New Republic's plans for a causality violation against the info gathering Festival group who have sabotaged their outpost, Rochard's worldThe book dragged during the flight to Rochard's world and not enough time was spent on the Eschaton, or the Critics, or the Mimes, etc, etc. I wanted to know more about these characters and their travails. A good book on post-singularity, but not greatRead this and compare it to the more quirky Cory Doctorow's `Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.' I think you'll find, as I did, that Cory Doctorow's book was more successful in post-singularity society
djfoobarmatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read the sequel to Singularity Sky, Iron Sunrise, before I read this one. So I was familiar with the basic setting which is that the universe has been populated by humans scattered from earth by a singularity AI. The planets have all since evolved in many different directions and the story works by clashing different cultures together. The cultures of the different planets are recognisable as exaggerations of cultures we know from history and present day trends.In this book, our heroes are hanging out in a authoritarian Luddite society (the New Republic) that is about to declare war on a post human information society (The Festival).The plot focuses on two people from earth who are caught up in the confrontation, attempting to save the New Republicans from themselves. There are side stories following various characters who play a part in events.I found I didn't connect with the characters too much. Rachel's character is pretty interesting but the others just seem to drift along, pulled by the story without doing much of interest. The story has a kind of inevitable momentum because of the obvious outcome due to the Festival's godlike power. The interest lies in how the characters respond and as I already mentioned, their response is pretty boring - they just get carried along.Having said that, there are a lot of entertaining moments and fun bits and pieces. The story flows and is believable enough. The places visited are all interesting: the New Republic home world, the interstellar starship and Rochards world which is transformed by the Festival.Highlights for me were the antics of the accidentally released spy bots and the custard pie wielding mimes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to follow at times, other times interesting.