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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Review: Singularity Sky

This was Charles Stross's first novel. An information war is being waged on Rochard's World, a colony of the New Republic, an authoritarian regime. The regime's response is typically militaristic, but two representative of external agencies attempt to intervene, resulting in a spy story set in a science fiction universe where time travel is possible. Stross was a computer scientist, so at least he attempts to get his physics right, and make references to John Conway's Game of Life, which a lot of software engineers and mathematicians are familiar with.

The characters, alas, are not very developed, and one gets the idea that they exist for the sole purpose of the plot, rather than being real people you could meet and like. In this, at least, Stross has the same problems as other hard science writers like Greg Egan and Stephen Baxter. Just because you're a real scientist/mathematician of some sort doesn't guarantee poor characters, as Vernor Vinge aptly demonstrates.

The sequel to this novel is Iron Sunrise.

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