Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index




to e-mail us:

support the site

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK

In association with Amazon.ca - Canada



In association with Amazon.it - Italia

the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Singularity Sky

Charles Stross

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Singularity Sky

Title: Singularity Sky
Author: Charles Stross
Genre: Novel
Written: 2003
Length: 389 pages
Availability: Singularity Sky - US
Singularity Sky - UK
Singularity Sky - Canada
Singularity Sky - India
Crépuscule d'acier - France
Singularität - Deutschland
Cielo de singularidad - España

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B : enjoyable, if somewhat baggy

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ D 25/5/2005 Dietmar Dath
Publishers Weekly . 7/7/2003 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "(D)as einzig Neue, dafür aber sehr Lehrreiche an Stross und seinem Roman Singularität ist die Unbekümmertheit, mit der hier wie längst auch in anderen Bereichen des kulturellen, aber auch sozialen und politischen Lebens der reichen westlichen Länder aus Dingen, die in den sechziger Jahren gegen den Widerstand Mächtiger -- und sei es nur, wie in diesem Fall, der Größen eines popkulturellen Genres -- mühsam durchgesetzt wurden, gedankenlos aufwandsarme Ornamente gebastelt werden, mit denen man sich moralisch ins Recht setzen sowie Frauen, arme Leute und andere putzige Tierchen unverbindlich loben kann. (...) (Eine) unbeholfen zusammenklischierte Geschichte" - Dietmar Dath, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Stross has some problems with pacing, but the book still generates plenty of excitement." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

- Return to top of the page -

The complete review's Review:

       Singularity Sky takes place several centuries in the future, after the twenty-first century 'Singularity' that dispersed some nine billion humans across the universe "in the blink of an eye", leading to the formation of a wide variety of civilizations across the universe. Among them is the reactionary and technologically backward New Republic -- "not exactly the most forward-looking of post-Diaspora human civilizations" --, where they live in conditions comparable to ca. 1900 (with communication via telegrams, rather than e-mail, for example) -- with a few exceptions, including some rather advanced space-traveling capabilities.
       The New Republic finds itself confronted with a disruptive 'attack' on one of its backwater colonies, Rochard's World, from another group, called the Festival. The Festival isn't your normal enemy, their 'invasion' of a different (if no less destructive) sort than the usual armed attack. The Festival wants information, in any form: tell them a story providing information of some sort -- "Anything we don't already know: art, mathematics, comedy, literature, biography, religion, genes, designs" -- and, practically genie-like, they'll grant you any (physical) wish, using 'cornucopia machines' that can (re)assemble anything on the atomic level.
       The powers that be in the New Republic are determined to fight off the Festival, and their plan is to take a fleet led by the black-hole powered spaceship, the Lord Vanek, and, via a series of time-jumps, travel back in time to undo the Festival. The problem with this plan is that time-travel isn't just frowned upon, it is strictly prohibited, and the Lord Vanek will be skirting right at the edges -- and likely beyond them, if they really want to pull this off -- of this prohibition. An unknown entity known as the Eschaton -- responsible for the original Singularity -- has few commandments, but: "Thou shalt not globally violate causality within my historic light come" is one everyone is warned of. Indeed, violators can expect grave reprisals if they even try it. (The main reason for this blanket prohibition is that it is the one thing that threatens the Eschaton's very existence: someone could go back in time and undo whatever brought them/it into being.)
       Two outsiders ride along on Lord Vanek: UN observer Rachel Mansour and engineer Martin Springfield, hired as an outside contractor. Both also have (secret) assignments that go beyond their nominal roles -- as the New Republic authorities also suspect -- and they both join forces and start a relationship (both of which they try to keep secret on board).
       As Rachel tries to explain to the attack force, the Festival is unlike any enemy they have ever faced or heard of, and traditional warfare -- even with the time-looping spin -- is unlikely to be effective, but the New Republic sees only with blinders on and can't conceive of anything but more or less traditional warfare. This contrast between what the Festival is doing and how the New Republic hopes to counter it is amusing and interesting -- a fun political-philosophical (and military) game that Stross plays out quite well.
       Singularity Sky is an adventure novel, complete with invasion (of unusual sorts), military expedition, distant space and time travel, spies -- and investigators on their heels --, as well as a way over the hill Admiral leading the expedition. Technology -- especially those cornucopia machines (sort of like Star Trek replicators) -- is also entertainingly and creatively deployed, beginning with the telephones the Festival showers down on Rochard's World, as well as the fancy secret devices Rachel and Martin have and put to use. And Rachel and Martin also make an appealing pair to lead through much of the story.
       It's all quite good fun, including the echoes of early twentieth century Russia (and revolution and war), though the novel gets a bit baggy at times; much of what's incidental is quite amusing, even the well-past his used date Admiral, but the story isn't always tightly focused and drifts away from Stross at times. Some of the travel and military maneuvers also do go on at too great length, but on the whole Singularity Sky is quite entertaining throughout, with enough invention, ideas, and plot twists to satisfy.

- M.A.Orthofer, 31 January 2017

- Return to top of the page -


Singularity Sky: Reviews: Charles Stross: Other books by Charles Stross under review: Other books of interest under review:

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       British author Charles Stross was born in 1964.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2017-2021 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links