Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

singularity sky USA cover

Singularity Sky (2003)
2004 Hugo Award nominee

2003 Ace USA hardcover
cover art by Danilo Ducak
313 pages (left)

2004 Orbit UK hardcover
400 pages (right)

singularity sky UK cover

From the inside cover of the US hardcover
       In the twenty-first century, life as we know it was changed forever by two events: the discovery of faster-than-light travel and the creation of the Eschaton, an artificial intelligence that achieved independent sentience. Four hundred years later, the far-flung human colonies that arose as a result of these extraordinary occurrences are scattered over three thousand years of time, across a thousand parsecs of space.
       One such colony, the New Republic, exists in self-imposed isolation. Founded by men and women suffering from an acute case of future shock, the member-planets wanted no part of the Eschaton or the technological advances that followed its creation.
       But their backward ways are severely compromised when they are attacked by an information plague that calls itself The Festival. As advanced technologies suppressed for generations begin literally to fall from the sky, the colony slips into revolutionary turmoil. Help is on the way, however, in the form of a battle fleet dispatched from Earth.
        Or is it? Secret plans, hidden agendas, and ulterior motives abound, both on the rescue ships and among the populace of the beleaguered colony.
       And watching it all is the Eschaton, which has its own very definite ideas about mankind's future. . .

Read for group discussion on August 25, 2004

Amy's summary  Charles Stross - Singularity Sky

Singularity Sky is a quirky science fiction book set 500 years in the future on planets of the New Republic (which were settled mostly by Eastern Europeans) and in space aboard the starship Lord Vanek.

The Festival, a group of interstellar travelers, visits technologically and socially backward planet Rochard's World, where the New Republic government suppresses technology and oppresses the common people.  The Festival drops telephones from orbit, offering those who pick up the phones anything they wish in exchange for "entertaining" them.  The influx of new goods and instant change causes havoc and economical collapse.

The New Republic, hearing that Rochard's World is "under siege", sends an interstellar military fleet.  Hoping to surprise the Festival, which they wrongly assume to be a conventional opponent, they implement a secret plan that takes the fleet on a roundabout route through space and time so as to arrive at Rochard's World unexpectedly early with information dropped from their future.  They don't dare go directly into the past and arrive before the Festival, because that would create a time causality violation which is forbidden by a nearly Godlike artificial intelligence known as the Eschaton, or "the Big E".  In the 21st century the Eschalon displaced 9/10 of the population of Earth overnight to planets throughout the universe, because someone was fooling with time travel.

Earth engineer Martin Springfield is hired to update the space drives on the battlecruiser Lord Vanek.  Rachel Mansour is UN weapons inspector with amazingly versatile luggage.  Each is working alone, and has a secret mission.  Neither is trusted by the New Republic.  Martin is followed, and Rachel is despised because she's an intrusive woman with diplomatic immunity.  Martin and Rachel discover that they share much in common.  They soon realize that being aboard the flagship Lord Vanek, leading the New Republic attack against The Festival, may not be the safest place to be.  The Festival has technology so advanced the New Republic can hardly imagine it, let alone fight it.

Meanwhile Burya Rubenstein, an exiled political dissident who had been plotting revolution for years, sees the anarchy on Rochard's World firsthand as he travels across the transformed landscape with Critic Sister Seventh, a cryptic tusked creature hosted by The Festival.

summary written by

How we each rated this book
Dan - Amy 7 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri - Barb -
Aaron - Cynthia -
Jackie 6 Ron 5
Christine - Deb 3
Mike 6 Stephanie 5
Gary 5 Monte 5

Our book group has also read the following books by Charles Stross:
-- The Atrocity Archives  in May 2007
-- Halting State  in September 2008

Charles Stross (1964-    ) is a UK (Scottish) writer of science fiction and fantasy short fiction and novels.

2005 Hugo Award for novella "The Concrete Jungle"
2007 Prometheus Best Novel Award for Glasshouse

Eschaton series, post-singularity space opera:
--Singularity Sky (2003), 2004 Hugo Award nominee
--Iron Sunrise (2004), 2005 Hugo Award nominee
--Timelike Diplomacy (omnibus, 2004), SFBC omnibus of Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise

More science fiction novels:
--Accelerando (2005), based on works published in Asimov's SF magazine, 2006 Hugo Award nominee
--Glasshouse (2006), same universe as Accelerando, 2007 Hugo Award nominee
--Halting State (2007)
--Saturn's Children (2008), a future with robots, inspired by late-period Heinlein

Merchant Princes science fantasy series:
--The Family Trade (2004)
--The Hidden Family (2005)
--The Clan Corporate (2006)
--The Merchants' War (2007)
--The Revolution Business (forthcoming in 2009)

Bob Howard or Laundry science fantasy/spy thriller/Lovecraftian horror series:
--The Atrocity Archives (2004), contains novella "The Concrete Jungle"
--The Jennifer Morgue (2006), contains the extra story "Pimpf"
--On Her Majesty's Occult Service (omnibus, 2007), SFBC omnibus of The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue

Stand-alone story and story collections:
--Toast (2002), contains 10 stories
--Missile Gap (2006), novella in anthology One Million AD and hardcover stand-alone from Subterranean Press

Other stuff:
--The Web Architect's Handbook (1996), according to Stross, "now a historical document"

Our book club's page for The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross
Our book club's page for Halting State by Charles Stross
Charlie's Place - Charles Stross' official website
NESFA review: Singularity Sky by Charles Stross
The SF Site Featured Review: Singularity Sky
Charles Stross interviewed - infinity plus non-fiction
infinity plus: "A Colder War" - a novelette by Charles Stross
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine: "Nightfall" by Charles Stross (novelette)
Science Fiction Weekly Interview - Charles Stross (2003)
Excessive Candour - Singularity Sky
SciFi Weekly Science Fiction Book Reviews - Iron Sunrise
Locus Online: Charles Stross interview excerpts (2003)
Locus Online: Charles Stross interview excerpts (2005)
Locus Online Features: Russell Letson reviews Charles Stross (2008)

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