Stefan's Reviews > Postsingular

Postsingular by Rudy Rucker
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Mar 27, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: science-fiction
Read in February, 2009

Damn, but this is a weird book. In one of the first chapters, a fairly typical weird scientist character uses sentient nano-machines to deconstruct the planet Mars, turning it into a giant super-computer shaped like a Dyson sphere. As a result, the entire sky-view of Earth is now in effect the inside of the sphere. One of the scenes in this book that positively gave me the creeps was a description of that sphere being used as a gigantic Imax screen for political propaganda. Imagine looking up to the sky and seeing an enormous politician projected there. The stuff nightmares are made of...
This book is filled with absolutely wonky post-singularity technology. In the same chapter mentioned above, the sentient nano-machines also decide to turn Earth into computronium, using the resulting computing power to generate a virtual version of Earth (yep: Vearth) where everyone can live forever as a virtual simulation. Thankfully, yet another nutty scientist's autistic son has managed to memorize thousands of lines of code that basically throw those nano-bots in reverse, so when the nano-beasties virtualize him, it sets off a chain reaction that negates the whole process and out pops good old Earth again. The kid's nutty scientist dad then develops another variant of sentient nano-beasties that cover everything and everyone on Earth and effectively turn everyone more or less omniscient and telepathic. All of this happens in the first 2 or 3 chapters. It gets weirder after this --- characters traveling to different dimensions and so on --- but I think you get the idea.
In the end, I gave the book just 2 stars. For one, I thought that some of the characters' reactions to all this post-singularity weirdness was way too casual. Most ordinary mortals would have gone into catatonic shock. Even worse, I found the prose style enormously annoying. The book is basically written in the same choppy tone as your average YA novel. The contrast between this style and the subject matter created so much dissonance that I just couldn't focus on the story and ended up skip-reading through the last 50 pages or so. There's a lot of good stuff in this book, and some really interesting characters and concepts, but in the end I couldn't help thinking that a more skilled writer could have done so much more with all those nifty ideas.
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