Friday, March 26, 2010

Diaspora, by Greg Egan

I've been away for awhile--as you can see my pace has slowed down a bit. A major distraction has been Tiger Woods 10 for the Wii. Maybe I should have blogged about that, but probably not. In any case, I have started reading science fiction again, not available for free this time but pretty cheap.

Diaspora is a sprawling novel in the tradition of other universe-spanners like Mike Resnick's Birthright: The Book of Man or Asimov's Foundation novels. But Egan's twist is always mathematical--the explorers are post-human software constructions, running as personalities inside "polises" of different flavors. Their efforts to save ordinary humans from destruction from a collapse of neutron stars lead to the discovery of an alien species that predicts a much larger disaster for the whole galaxy.

This is a truly twisted and difficult read, the mathematics are just on the edge of readable for a math tyro like me (I only took the major calculus sequence), and several of their adventures are dead ends. I couldn't finish it and couldn't give up either, because I really like other things Egan has written. But I can only recommend this one for his biggest fans. 2 stars, maybe

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