I wont lie, Diaspora starts out with hard-core scientific jargon and keeps it up as it rushes through the cosmos right up to the finale. This book is a 277 page tough read, not because its bad, but because the terminology and vocabulary is expansive and specific. This is about as hard as you can get with your sci-fi. If it had gloves it would be Mike Tyson (After the face tattoo, but also during his ear biting stint, so yes some sort of dual time shift paradigm of Tyson’s soul in all its inky blood-lust.) It starts you off with the birth and development of an AI, and walks you through it’s becoming self-aware. Once it is done there, Egan hits you where it hurts and sends you wailing through unimaginable distances.
The time setting is around the end of the 30th century, and humanity has developed beyond its flesh and bone confines. Trifurication of the species, between fleshers, gleisner robots, and the polises or supercomputers filled with the individual software of multiple intelligent individuals and all of their personalities, has occurred. Yatima, the main protagonist, shows you around the cosmos, from virtual landscapes, to celestial neighbors and beyond. When an astronomical occurrence forces the diaspora, you may have to ask yourself again what truly defines a species.
What I loved about it:
Where to start? You know how I said “This book is a 277 page tough read, not because its bad, but because the terminology and vocabulary is expansive and specific.” Well, I love it for that. Although some of the theories he builds upon in the book do not apply to the laws of physics our reality operates on, he also does a great job of making it believable. Having a science background and reading this book, I was gripped by the verve and ease at which Egan delivered his universe and it’s rules. Oh, and there are pretty much two plot lines, which is kind of like reading two books at the same time. #bonus
Also it is gender neutral and is written by an Aussie. What seriously is there not to love?
What I didn’t:
The interweaving of the plot-lines could have been better, but despite having wrote some of the book then deciding midway through that “NO, this is going to happen!” and throwing in another plot, he does a phenomenal job of ‘patching the quilt’. I felt like the character development was a little loose as well.
Honestly, I dug this book. If you like science fiction, especially the kind that wakes you up with a knuckle sandwich, then this is the way to go. Right here, right now. Egan delivers, and true to his form, as this is the third book I have read of his, he did not disappoint. I think however, this book is more about science and the idea of what defines humanity, then it is space travel or any of the characters within. Some people will complain about this book and say exactly what I said I didn’t like, but they don’t stop and think that maybe Egan did it exactly the way he wanted. In a time where life is infinite and time is at your command, Egan wanted to explore the very essence of what a human is. He didn’t care about the individual characters, he cared about the limits to which humanity would go to survive, thrive, and explore. I give it a gamma-ray bursting 4.3 out of 5.