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4.13  ·  Rating details ·  6,550 ratings  ·  514 reviews
"The boldest and most wildly speculative writer of our time, Greg Egan has envisioned a quantum Brave New World -- a masterful saga of a time when not only human life, but fleshly reality itself, will be nothing but a memory...It is the thirtieth century.The "world" has evolved into a vast network of probes, satellites, and servers knitting the solar system into one scape ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 1st 1999 by Eos (first published September 1997)
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Joe Dean Yes it is confusing at first. it starts in the present on the spaceship (well, present in the future) and then most is a flashback that returns to the…moreYes it is confusing at first. it starts in the present on the spaceship (well, present in the future) and then most is a flashback that returns to the present intermittently. Yeah I'm not mathematically inclined, but I enjoyed trying to visualize the geometry described. I've read three of his books, and this is my favorite. In fact it sort of ruined Sci-Fi for me because it's so good. I used to be an avid reader of Sci-Fi.(less)
Alanhk The different ships will arrive at their destinations usually many years apart. So if one does find life, the rest will hear about it in a few years,…moreThe different ships will arrive at their destinations usually many years apart. So if one does find life, the rest will hear about it in a few years, while they are still en route, or long after they have arrived. Very unlikely two would make discoveries close enough to make this a problem. (This isn't a SR problem though. Just a "messages take years" problem.)

I thought that the citizens finding the prediction of the galactic gamma burst just 1000 years in the future, from a message left a billion years earlier, was a hugely unlikely coincidence. Just near enough to create tension, far enough that they have time to do something. (less)

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Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
“Yatima surveyed the Doppler-shifted stars around the polis, following the frozen, concentric waves of colour across the sky from expansion to convergence. Ve wondered what account they should give of themselves when they finally caught up with their quarry. They’d brought no end of questions to ask, but the flow of information couldn’t all be one-way. When the Transmuters demanded to know ‘Why have you followed us? Why have you come so far?’, where should ve begin?”

Where indeed? Initially, the
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian, sci-fi
The Revised Book of Genesis

As is usual with everything by Egan, Diaspora is so densely packed with ideas that all summaries are inadequate. Only one comparison seems even remotely appropriate - to the biblical Book of Genesis.

Diaspora is a history of the re-creation of the universe, one in which there is no need for divine power to either start it off or continue its development. In fact, this is a history of how the defects and design flaws of the original creation story are corrected by hard
Aaron Arnold
Ever since I read Permutation City, Egan has been one of my favorite hard sci-fi authors, and when I cracked open this book and saw that the first forty pages were a hardcore blow-by-blow of an AI becoming self- aware that would do Marvin Minsky proud, I knew that I would love it too. Brief plot synopsis: in the near future where humanity has trifurcated into AIs, sentient robots, and flesh-bound transhumans, an unexplained binary neutron star collision and subsequent gamma ray burst forces the ...more
Ben Babcock
I want to give this book five stars. I want to give this book one star. It’s amazing. It’s terrible.

Keeping Earth habitable is a pressing concern today. Even if we manage to avoid eco-catastrophe (and I’m optimistic on this), that’s only a small hurdle in the grand scheme of the cosmos. We only have about a billion years left before the Sun swells so much that it cooks the atmosphere. A few billion years after that, the Sun will engulf Earth itself—bye, bye, homeworld. Even if we manage to
Manuel Antão
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Möbius Strip: "Diaspora" by Greg Egan

Let’s try an experiment.

Make a rectangle of paper with y width and y times 3.14 length with a little excess enough to connect the ends. Twist the rectangle and connect the ends into a Möbius strip. You'll wind up with something that looks like two joined cones and almost a solid. I like to call it a "Möbius mollusk" since it resembles a conical seashell. Like a seashell it has an opening, two in
Diaspora is one of the greatest science fiction books I have ever read. Reading it brought into my mind a sense of wonder and of sheer visceral infinity that I hadn’t felt for years.

And yet I would recommend this ambitious hard sci-fi novel to almost no one. How can that be? How does such a strange, lonely situation arise?

Cue digression:

Have you ever seen a Shakespeare play? I mean an actual play, performed live on stage, in the original early English.

The first such play I saw was the Duchess of
I am very safe in saying that this is one hell of an ambitious, dense, and thoroughly grounded novel of mind-blowing physics housed in one of the most hardcore hard-SF frames I've ever seen.

That's including Cixin Liu's recent trilogy.

I've read a lot of physics books for the sheer pleasure of it and I have a pretty good imagination, but when I was reading this particular novel, I was hard-pressed to keep up with the wall of information, exposition, and detailed descriptions of particle and
May 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I love the super-technical approach in this book. There is a rich combination of hard-core chemistry, biology, particle physics, astronomy, cosmology, mathematics; and that is on top of technologies like super-computing, artificial intelligence and bio-engineering. The first section on the pre-birth development of Yatima is mind-blowing; bio-engineering, psycho-engineering, just a wealth of concepts that left me breathless.

There are three types of "people" in the story. There are regular human
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you come to hard sci-fi in search of ideas about how humanity might change as we integrate with our machines, or how the universe (or universes) might fit together well beyond the observable world we know, you might well love this book. It's got some interesting ideas. Unfortunately, it's so bogged down by over-the-top "science-ish" writing, weak character development and two oddly stitched together plots that I kept cursing in annoyance as I read, rather than delighting at the novelty of ...more
Charles Hay
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely stunning concepts are fired at you every couple of pages, coupled with a writing style which makes hard science-fiction just about comprehensible. The feeling of the vertigo of extreme knowledge reminds me of Arthur C Clarke and Olaf Stapledon at their unsettlingly cognizant best.

Importantly, it's worth noting that this is a narrative leap forward from it's spiritual predecessor, Permutation City, which tended towards being quite dry, despite it's philosophical enormity. In Diaspora,
Oct 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
one of the few books I'd rate a 6.
Science fiction as a literary endevour is at a natural disadvantage. A novel set in the distant future cannot take for granted any common points of reference. It is forced to explain itself, to construct worlds and cultures through description and exposition. Furthermore the characters are often alien (perhaps literally) and are difficult to relate to. How can one feel sympathy for characters a thousand years removed, whose experiences are so vastly different from our own?

To overcome these
Mathew Babaoye
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book despite some minor flaws, and although it reminds me in some ways of my own debut novel, "Übermensch", it ends up going in some very different, mindbending places. A full review will be posted later in 2016.
Paul  Perry
Apr 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paul by: open minds, hard sf fans, science nerds

My memories of when I used to subscribe to the science fiction magazine Interzone in the 80s and 90s are largely of two types of stories. The magazine had a penchant for a brand of rather gloomy anti-cyberpunk futurism (especially in the 80s, with Britain under Thatcher's iron heel when everything looked bleak, and era which also gave rise to such wonderfully dark comics as V for Vendetta and Crisis) of a sort that made Jeff Noon's books look positively utopian (I'm sure Noon must have had
Jack van Riel
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I'm more of a soft sci-fi than a hard sci-fi guy, and Diaspora ranks nanocrystalline adamantium on the hardness scale. There's a lot of fundamental particles-as-wormholes theory, virtual humans, extra dimensions, astronomical events and the like. But it's also surprisingly human.

It asks plenty of interesting questions. Like, what does identity mean if you can shape your form and outlook at will? And if you can clone yourself as much as you like, what does that do to relationships? Are you still
Nov 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I'm just too mathematically and scientifically challenged, but I just couldn't get into this one, though I had high hopes based on the reviews.

Somewhere in Egan's verbose and detailed scientific musings is a rather bland and boring story with flat characters and a dull plot.

If you love hard sci-fi and mathematics or quantum physics, then you'll probably love this book, I don't doubt it.

I just couldn't enjoy the plot and characters while having to make my way through sentences like this
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
In the past few weeks this is the second book I could not finish.

It has some great ideas, such as the birth of an artificial intelligence, and the state of humanity nine hundred years later (and others I will never discover now). My problem was the way they were presented.

The first forty pages were about the birth of an AI. The text was very technical. I can imagine that someone with more knowledge on informatics or other related sciences could enjoy it, but I didn't understand what was going
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Greg Egan is smoking some hot science cigarettes. Diaspora is a novel ahead of its time with number of hard science concepts. True for a regular Joe this novel would be too much to get, myself being somewhat in the middle I was able to get basic ideas behind Egan's concepts though sometimes I couldn't get details of some elaborate geometrical or physical theorem, no shame in that!

Story is about conscious software searching for answers and new home for themselves in the universe. Thanks to an
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ιt is not easy to rate this book, which I read in Greek translation. The book has an immense wealth of ideas, each of which could be developed into a separate book. This was amazing. Only for that, the book could be rated 5 stars.
On the other hand, the author explained extensively his ideas with scientific analyses, which are beyond the understanding of the average reader. This I guess is very fine in a hard science fiction book, with emphasis on explaining everything scientifically.

Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably one of the most important s-f book I've read, it's so completely and utterly amazing... A dark and thrilling hard-sf story about a very distant future, post-humanity and evolution of (post)human consciousness... Packed with very convincing extrapolations concerning evolution of science and civilization, space travels and (im)possible contacts with other forms of life. Absolutely recommended for fans of Lem, Clarke, and all those interested in philosophy of mind, A.I., and cognitive ...more
Chaunceton Bird
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-hi-fi
Really solid stuff. Solid in it's composition and contents. Thick as one could ask for from fiction, yet flows like quicksilver. Imaginative story with a beginning that was so well executed I was recommending the book before page 60. As always, Mr. Egan's theoretical abilities create a thoroughly rewarding experience.
Jose Moa
An excelent book of really hard science fiction on artificial inteligence virtual reality and transhumanism carried to the very extrems ,it explains mathematical theorems as theorem of Euler and mathematical concepts as fiber bundles.It has a exceptional first chapter where we see the detailed birth of a virtual artificial inteligent being,a transhuman named Yatima
Something else entirely: In his previous novels, Greg Egan's hardcore scientific speculation has always seemed to be shoehorned, slightly awkwardly, into his decently imagined, elegantly written plots. A less brave writer might have reined in the science, and created a more conventional novel. Egan, instead, turns it up to 11, and may, in the process, have kickstarted an entirely new kind of writing.

Hundreds of years from now, 'humanity' is mostly a collective of self-generating, autonomous

Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, favourites
I took my time with this one. In some ways I'm glad I did, because it stands as a singular achievement even among Egan's own generally good-to-excellent books. It's one of the best science fiction novels I've ever read, and is one of those rare works of fiction that accepts the consequences of its ideas. Most other sci-fi engages in some plot handwaving in the service of whatever the big idea is, but Diaspora doesn't shy away from any of it.

It helps that the main character does pretty much
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
God, this book blew my mind! Especially the end... the journey this person goes on, and how FAR s/he goes... AAAH!!!
Jul 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
The same caveat applies to this book as to every other Egan novel. If you are neither inherently fascinated by mathematics and physics taken past the bleeding edge, nor willing to tolerate possibly pages of physics discussion that you don't get, then don't read this novel. It's not the book, it's you - and that's ok, it's just not worth your while getting frustrated.

That said, if you're willing to dive in, I think this is another of Egan's awesome novels. Spoilers coming.

The premise is that at
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, fiction
I may be out of practise at reading hard sci-fi, as I found ‘Diaspora’ both fit that term and was a very challenging read. It broadly follows the life story of Yatima, a disembodied being born through psychogenesis into the Polis, a society of disembodied beings. I slowly struggled through the first chapter, which describes Yatima gaining consciousness in what felt like excessive detail. In the late 21st century setting, humanity has diverged into three sub-species: the Polis, a society of ...more
“Gideon” Dave Newell
This novel is full of fascinating consequences of post-corporeal humanity, and rigorously pushes ideas to extremes that few authors are willing to extend. For that reason, it can become daunting at moments for some as distances stretch into cosmic scales and time is examined and experienced at epochal durations. An unprecedented and unexplained disaster drives the software descendants of extinct humanity to seek reassurance and safety from any future re-occurrence to lengths unforeseen and ...more
If you read the wikipedia article the ideas of the book sound quite promising.
"Diaspora focuses in large part on the nature of life and intelligence in a post-human context, and questions the meaning of life and the meaning of desires. If, for instance, the meaning of human life and human desires is bound up with ancestral human biology ("to spread one's genes"), then what meaning do lives and desires have, and what serves as the basis of values when biology no longer forms a part of life?"

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Greg Egan specialises in hard science fiction stories with mathematical and quantum ontology themes, including the nature of consciousness. Other themes include genetics, simulated reality, posthumanism, mind transfer, sexuality, artificial intelligence, and the superiority of rational naturalism over religion.

He is a Hugo Award winner (and has been shortlisted for the Hugos three other times),
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“No wonder most fleshers had stampeded into the polises, once they had the chance: if disease and aging weren’t reason enough, there was gravity, friction, and inertia. The physical world was one vast, tangled obstacle course of pointless, arbitrary restrictions.” 4 likes
“He was a bridger. He created you to touch other cultures. He wanted you to reach as far as you could.” 3 likes
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