Wednesday, January 2, 2013

7 Books On Being More Than Human

7 books on being more than human, a reply to Zach's "5 Sci Fi Books to Read in 2013" and at his suggestion. I picked a few books that I hadn't previously recommended, distilled a theme and then added a few more. And found that I had 7 books. As Vernor Vinge cannot be denied when it comes to the technological Singularity as a plot element, I've broken my previous rule about only including each author once

Novella and short story collection. The best pieces in the collection are the title novella -- which is more existential horror -- and "All You Zombies", the ultimate time travel story.

Stross attempts the impossible and writes a story across the Singularity. It starts in the near future at a personal level with a strong hard scifi feel and gets somewhat wackier but still plausible as the story progresses and expands across the Singularity.

First book in the Illium/Olympos series. As Wikipedia notes, it 'is a form of "literary science fiction" which relies heavily on intertextuality' where allusions abound and give depth and texture to the story and world. Even without understanding many of the references, I found it to be a great story -- posthumans living as Greek gods re-enacting the Iliad, decadent humans in a quasiparadise on earth, cybernetic intelligences comptemplating Shakespeare and a wily Odysseus on odyssey tying the threads together. I really need to reread this.

Near future world in the grip of the Singularity with AIs, universal augmented reality and a hint of dystopia thrown in. Vinge is the Singularity guy. Check out Marooned in Realtime by Vinge for a different, post Singularity take set in his The Peace War universe.

A murder mystery in a world of powerful and potentially manipulating mind-readers and a perfectly rational computerized justice system.

A different take on telepathy... what constitutes an individual when people can share thoughts?

To me, the epitome of Vinge's work. A godlike, malovent AI has been dug up by humans in the outer reaches of the galaxy, where the speed of light can be exceeded. It can only be defeated by ensconing it the "Slow Zone", where physics behaves as we know it. Most of the action takes place on a medival world inhabited by Tines, pack-intelligences the recall the gestalt from More Than Human.

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