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4.13  ·  Rating details ·  7,654 ratings  ·  630 reviews
By the end of the 30th century humanity has the capability to travel the universe, to journey beyond earth and beyond the confines of the vulnerable human frame.

The descendants of centuries of scientific, cultural and physical development divide into three: fleshers — true Homo sapiens; Gleisner robots — embodying human minds within machines that interact with the physical
Paperback, 443 pages
Published February 2000 by Heyne (first published September 1997)
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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)
Mathew Even with a background in computer science, mathematics and physics, it's still heavy going. It gets even heavier later on.…moreEven with a background in computer science, mathematics and physics, it's still heavy going. It gets even heavier later on.(less)

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Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, australian
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 e
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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
Kara 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 emigr
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
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 fac
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 quantu
David Rubenstein
May 09, 2010 rated it liked it
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 b
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 aut ...more
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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,
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 o
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 stor
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
A brilliant, yet excruciatingly detailed, look at the future of humanity and transhumanism. Egan's rich vision of the fragmented legacies of humanity on a mission to explore the galaxy and way beyond is unbelievably bold and visionary, yet is frequently bogged down with excruciating scientific detail that often seems to supersede actual storytelling. This has got to be the hardest of the hard science fiction I have come across. Not easy reading. My mind was equally numbed and blown. No doubt it ...more
Oct 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
one of the few books I'd rate a 6. ...more
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 limit
Jack van Riel
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
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 o
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 old
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.

The developm
Mathew Babaoye
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jose Moa
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
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. ...more
Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 scie ...more
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
God, this book blew my mind! Especially the end... the journey this person goes on, and how FAR s/he goes... AAAH!!!
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 soft

Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 exac
Luke Burrage
Full review on my podcast, SFBRP episode #370.
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 t
Phil Filippak
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is brilliant. I don't remember if I have read anything as beautiful, as consistent, and as inspiring as Diaspora. If you're into hard science fiction and haven't read this book yet, get a hold of it and get absorbed. I will say also that I borrowed a handful of words of Greg Egan's invention for my own vocabulary.

If, by any chance, you come across negative reviews, check them to not be ones on Russian translation as it is awful and spoils everything.
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scifi
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 space ...more
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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), an

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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.” 7 likes
“Understanding an idea meant entangling it so thoroughly with all the other symbols in your mind that it changed the way you thought about everything. Still,” 6 likes
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