39 Down, 13 Left (52 Weeks, 52 Books)

Diaspora takes place close to the next millennium when the Singularity is already in the distant past, though ‘fleshers’ still exist in various transhumanic forms back on Earth. Our posthuman brethren either take the form of the aforementioned ‘fleshers’ or as disembodied consciousnesses inhabiting ultrasecure servers known as ‘polises’ or as ‘gleisner’ robots out exploring the rest of the system.

The novel follows the experiences of a rare spontaneously generated ‘citizen’, Yatima, as ve (coined by Egan as a new pronoun) explores a world literally without boundaries or limits. An unavoidable extinction event leads ver and much of post-humanity to seek an alternative to the inevitable end of civilization in all its forms.Yatima serves a lens with which to understand the psychology and philosophies of post-human society and life.

This is actually the second time I’ve read this book, but it’s still as powerful as the first time round. Devoid of the usual anthropomorphic aliens of mainstream sci-fi, Egan imagines an arguably more realistic future, albeit one that might likely be beyond the ken of anyone of us living now. Swirling with wormhole theory, theoretical astrophysics and plain hardcore science, much of the time reading this book is spent attempting to understand the nigh-impenetrable discourse, more than following the standard adventure plots of most sci-fi.

I fucking loved every line of it. Egan never holds back and dumbs down to his reader, like most sci-fi often do. Character and plot development does suffer a little from the constant theorizing, but I really didn’t mind at all. Not that I understood much of what was being discussed beyond the slightest gist, but it’s this resolute refusal to water down the myriad possibilities of post-humanity and alien life that is so absolutely gripping. It also warrants mentioning that Diaspora contains the least likely instance of reference to Pinball Wizard ever imagined.

If you love sci-fi, you must read this book.

(ISBN No: 0752809253) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

My next book will be Martin Amis’ Night Train.


1 Response to “39 Down, 13 Left (52 Weeks, 52 Books)”

  1. 1 Kman September 30, 2006 at 8:28

    Good review! I’m also trying to do about a book a week. I think I’ll give this book a try. Thanks!

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