Behold the orphan. Born into a world that is not a world. A digital being grown from a mind seed, a genderless cybernetic citizen in a vast network of probes, satellites, and servers knitting the Solar System into one scape, from the outer planets to the fiery surface of the Sun. Since the Introdus in the 21st century, humanity has reconfigured itself drastically. Most chose immortality, joining the polises to become conscious software.
Others opted for gleisners: Disposable, renewable robotic bodies that remain in contact with the physical world of force and friction. Many of these have left the Solar System forever in fusion drive starships.
And there are the holdouts. The fleshers left behind in the muck and jungle of Earth - some devolved into dream-apes; others cavorting in the seas or the air; while the statics and bridges try to shape out a roughly human destiny.
But the complacency of the citizens is shattered when an unforeseen disaster ravages the fleshers, and reveals the possibility that the polises themselves might be at risk from bizarre astrophysical processes that seem to violate fundamental laws of nature. The Orphan joins a group of citizens and flesher refugees in a search for the knowledge that will guarantee their safety - a search that puts them on the trail of the ancient and elusive Transmuters, who have the power to reshape subatomic particles, and to cross into the macrocosmos, where the universe we know is nothing but a speck in the higher-dimensional vacuum.
©2013 Greg Egan (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
"Fabulous Story, Disappointing Performance"
I would recommend the story to a friend if they were up to the conceptual challenges the plot contains. Egan's intricacy of detail is extremely worth persevering with, but it's dense and some passages require close scrutiny. I would not, however, recommend this recording to a friend (see later answers).
This is hard Sci-Fi. It's characters are not its strong feature. As such it's heavily concept driven, and you read it for those, not for character-development. In the constraints of the genre however, I thought they were all suited to their roles, but I don't have a favourite.
I originally read this as an e-book. I was fascinated to know how a professional narrator would move through this story, dealing with its esoterica: from the subject-specific jargon to the neutral personal pronouns. This would be a challenging read for any narrator; we are immersed in a world and assume the viewpoints of its inhabitants, who don't think it's strange at all. Egan creates this effect beautifully. So far I've skipped through the audiobook only, but so far I've been appalled. The pace is slow and is sufficiently lacking in phrasing as to make it an uncomfortable listening experience, to the point where it is difficult to know what words belong with what. It also makes what was quite a surreal read positively dreary and painful. The books own conventions were clearly poorly understood, leading to uneven emphasis, and a general plodding relentlessness to the delivery. A book with Diaspora's object and Diaspora's target audience, requires much more pre reading, linguistic and typographical care, and general attention to detail than has been demonstrated by this performance.
I think that this book would be totally ruined by a movie adaptation. It's so in-the-mind that to have the details dished up for you would completely miss the point.
One of the best Hard Science Fiction stories I've read in years. One of the most mediocre audio-performances as well. Had I known I would have saved my credit for another title. May it be a lesson to me to preview things before checking out.
"Narration is a deal breaker"
I have no idea how good the story is, as the narration is so horrible that I couldn't listen to more than 15 minutes. It is monotone and halting, like the reader doesn't understand what he's reading, or is reciting a recipe. Very disappointing.
"Love Egan, don't care for the narrator"
The ve/vis pronouns take a little getting used to, but other than that no complaints.
This is the second book I've tried to get through by Adam Epstein and I would not be willing to try another of his attempts at narration. The voices he does are overly cartoonish and grating and he mispronounces words constantly. If he's going to narrate so many of Greg Egan's books, he could take a few minutes to figure out how to properly pronounce things.
Thankfully someone else narrates my favorite of Egan's books, Schild's Ladder.
The level of scientific detail and rigorous explanation is hard to describe. I honestly don't know how much of the physics described in the story is based on real science. Regardless, it all seemed realistic (and consistent) enough to be plausible and detailed enough to not feel like so much scifi magick. It was a really incredible story. The voices were a bit odd at first, but soon became endearing. If I were to read the book now myself, the characters would all probably sound as the did here. Excellent work.
"Do you have the program to enjoy this book?"
Very "hard" sci-fi, Diaspora's main characters are AIs, the protagonist being "born" early on. They can run points of view that allow them to enjoy a work of art as if it were someone else perceiving it for instance. There's no faster than light travel and this isn't a space opera, it's an introspective tale of exploration.
If you're frustrated with science fiction that let action get in the way of rigorous explanations of the science behind what's going on, this book is for you!
I love Greg Egan, but he has a tendency to produce endings that, while logical, are unsatisfying and wondering how it could have been better.
In this case, we follow clones that are on the hunt for the universe hopping Transmuters. Initially the story seemed to be about securing a lasting existence in a universe beset with powerful forces that could lead to extinction. I found the survival story much more interesting than the hunt for the race that helped humanity discover a mind-bending way to survive. C'est la vie.
While I'm giving this three stars, I don't regret the hours I spent listening to this book.
"A thoughtful transhumanist speculation"
I really appreciate the careful way Egan stretches old social constructs and human biases into a world that is, simultaneously, built by the post-humans to deconstruct them, and wrought with some new age version of them.
Even after the world building starts to feel normal , there is some excellent speculative physics (enough that I never rolled my eyes , despite having two degrees in it).
In the last eighth or so, he takes all the mind stretching he's done so far, and uses it as a foundation for a final vignette that warps your sense of time, perception, linearity , etc. A much better ending than was necessary to make this a great book.
"opens your mind to new areas of exploration"
explores post singularity humanity presenting numerous interesting possibilities on ways of existing and the potential for life in other universes
Strike three of the Kindle-Audible sale books. Egan is very interesting...until you hear it from the mouth of this reader.
If only the energy of his introductions flowed into his reading of the text...might be able to listen to this.
But...you get what you paid for (and I paid $1.99 for this...and the other two)
This is some really great sci fi. I love finding treasures like this. Narrator was was really good. Thanks Greg Egan for expanding my horizons.
I was recommended this book as I am a fan of hard science fiction such as the works of Asimov, Poul Anderson and Arthur C Clarke. However the experience was ruined for me by poor narration. The guys voice is monotonous and annoying. I couldn't bear it so I stopped listening. Perhaps I'll read a hard copy or e-book version in the future since the premise of the story seems interesting.
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