The Alexandrian

Diaspora - Greg EganDiaspora is science fiction at its purest.

The era of the transhuman has begun: Entire communities of AIs are born, live, and die entirely within artificial environments. Robots of born of human sentience mine the asteroids and prepare for the first interstellar flights. The few remaining enclaves of ‘fleshers’ are dominated by the genetically enhanced. The very definition of what it means to be human is rapidly expanding, the entire species is heading in a thousand directions are once.

This novel begins at the end of the 30th century, with the birth of an AI in the Konishi polis. As the main character comes of age, we see his life journey mirrored by the species as a whole. Through vis biography, the story of humanity’s future unfolds across a tapestry of millennia: A bold, startlingly vivid vision of our first, tentative steps into the greater universe beyond the cradle of our pale sun.

From the very first page, as he describes the AI’s birth of consciousness with lavish insight, Egan dazzles you with his ideas. Here, with extraordinary detail, you will read of scientific revolutions, technological marvels, titanic journeys, startlingly alien life, unimaginable tragedies, cyclopean art, and vast accomplishments. Egan takes a canvas of mammoth proportions and paints upon it epic strokes.

And yet, despite this astronomic and captivating backdrop, Egan weaves a human drama out of the seemingly inhuman. Where most authors would be satisfied with telling a Story About the Scenery, Egan makes it clear that the setting is just one of the dimensions to his novel: Characters, events, and science are all perfectly balanced, and the result is a seamless whole. Everything seems to fall out of Egan’s prose with perfect, ethereal grace – unconstructed and unconstrained.

A closing thought: I picked up Diaspora on the recommendation of Elf M. Sternberg, who said: “Everything since then has been a commentary.” Well, that’s not quite true, but I’m amazed at the degree to which it can be said. In a stunningly slim volume, Egan has created a gestalt of the genre and pushed its frontiers in a dozen different directions.

For a long time now there have only been nine books on my Top 10 list of science fiction novels because I could never quite put my finger on a book which seemed to fully deserve a place with the other titles on the list. With Diaspora, I’ve found the tenth book.

GRADE: A+
Greg Egan
Published: 1998
Publisher: HarperPrism/Eon
Cover Price: $6.99
ISBN: 0-06-105281-7

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