By Charles Stross
First Published: 2003
US Jacket Illustration by Danilo Dukak
Review © 2009 by Stephen Roof
Genre: Science Fiction (Space Opera), Thriller
Singularity Sky by Charles Stross is a far future, “hard” science fiction, space opera. Four hundred years in the future, life has been transformed by the “Singularity” which occurred in our own 21st century when an artificial intelligence achieved sentience and enabled faster than light travel. This AI, dubbed the “Eschaton”, has transported the majority of the human race to other planets in the galaxy. The subsequent development of profuse human colonies has resulted in quite a diversity of civilizations.
One of the more backward colonies, which strives to avoid new technologies, is thrown into turmoil when an alien entity drops amazing machines from the sky that can produce almost anything one desires in no time at all. The threat of war is imminent and agents from Earth are sent in to stabilize the situation. One of the agents, Rachel Mansour, is a female super spy of the future. She finds her assignment has additional challenges due to the severely marginalized status of females on this world. The plot features secret agents, spies, political intrigue, aliens, and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Generous dollops of humor and romance are also added to the mix. What more could you want?Singularity Sky often stretches the bounds of credibility beyond the breaking point (ie a cornucopia machine that can make most anything you desire in a few minutes) but is sustained by abundant wry humor and rip-roaring action. The technical jargon can also be a bit overwhelming at times. However, the characters are interesting and likeable, and once the action gets started, this book becomes fast paced and exciting. An added bonus is that the naval style starship maneuvers and battles are terrific. If you like space opera, you won’t want to miss this novel.