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March 25, 2005

A review of Singularity Sky by Charles Stross

Singularity Sky by Charles Stross (UK/US)

This books starts with an amazing first line, but then instantly began to confound my expectations. The only previous fiction I had read by Charlie was Lobsters which completely blew me away. So to be suddenly plunged into the intricacies of the technologically repressed New Republic came as a bit of a shock. Then, the detail of running a starship was more Das Boot than Star Trek and the action detailed in a way that I imagine Tom Clancy books to be (although I've never read a Tom Clancy book, so perhaps more accurately I should say that it almost reminded me of stuff in Robert Ludlum books).

But the ideas keep coming, loads and loads of ideas. Maybe too much? By the end I was blase´ about a human size rabbit arguing with a cyborg! The plot ended well and there was lots of action but somehow it felt a bit flat. It seems a bit churlish to criticize because there's some truly great SF in this book, but I never fell in love with it. It's grown on me as a I think more about it, but at the time I never cared enough about the characters, it felt a bit emotionally shallow to me.

The good news however is that Iron Sunrise (UK/US) is supposed to be a better book (whatever that means) and everything I've heard about Accelerando sets it up to be phenomonal. (On top of that Charlie's fantasy books are getting good reviews).

So in summary, a decent debut novel that I never really fell in love with, but I look forward to reading more of the author's work.


I felt the same way about SS, James. And, yes, I did like Iron Sunrise better.

SS: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/000597.html
IS: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/001980.html

Interesting (great minds think alike ;-) ). I guess that it *is* a first novel and Mr.Stross is obviously getting better. I'm waiting for the paperback of Iron Sunrise and I'm holding off reading any more of the Accelerando stories to read the novel version instead (although the UK harback edition is due August, so the paperback will be a way away :-( )

I wasn't terribly a fan of either, lots of interesting ideas in both, but they never seemed to gel. IMHO a lot of singularity fiction feels that way. I just don't see a singularity happening, and so it probably colours my perceptions somewhat. Hardware is hardware, but software is crap and it actually gets worse as hardware gets better.