Reviews for Diaspora : A Novel


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 January 1998
One thousand years from now, most of humankind expresses itself as conscious software, although sentient robots and a remnant of Homo sapiens called fleshers are also present. Unknown forces threaten the existence of the fleshers, and Yatima, the central consciousness in Egan's novel, seeks answers. Yatima can assume "ancestral form" but has no gender. Egan even invents personal pronouns--ve and the possessive ver--to refer to Yatima. Yatima was born in an elaborately concentric expression of DNA, and the universe is flying apart in a similar, elaborately concentric fashion. Yatima explores worlds and myriad dimensions in an ever-expanding search for the Transmuters, an ancient, mostly incorporeal race whose search for knowledge explains the diaspora. Yatima at last discovers the Transmuters, dispersed in a high dimension much like the Milky Way, and thus returns the novel to its beginning, suggesting that what is always was. The general reader may find this tough going, but Egan's speculations, brilliantly extrapolated from current science, are a physicist's delight. ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

----------------------
Library Journal Reviews 1998 January
By the end of the second millennium, the human race has evolved into three distinct groups: conscious software programs known as citizens, sentient robots called gleisners, and unaltered humans or fleshers. When a cosmic accident forces the evacuation of Earth, these three groups form a tentative alliance to explore the known universe in search of unknown?and perhaps unknowable?possibilities. Egan's (Distress, LJ 6/15/97) remarkable gift for infusing theoretical physics with vibrant immediacy, creating sympathetic characters that stretch the definition of humanity, results in an exhilarating galactic adventure that echoes the best efforts of Greg Bear, Larry Niven, and other masters of hard sf. A top-notch purchase for any library. Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information.

----------------------
Publishers Weekly Reviews 1998 January #1
By the year 2975, humanity has wandered down several widely divergent evolutionary paths. "Flesher" life is that which resides in a basically human body, though genetically engineered mutations have created communication problems throughout the species. In the "polises," meanwhile, disembodied but self-aware artificial intelligences procreate, interact, make art and attempt to solve life's mathematical mysteries. Then there are the "gleisners," which are conscious, flesher-shaped robots run by self-aware software that is linked directly to the physical world through hardware. Throughout, Egan (Distress) follows the progress of Yatima, an orphan spontaneously generated by the non-sentient software of the Konishi polis. Yatima gains self-awareness, meets with Earthly fleshers and, when tragedy strikes, becomes personally involved in the greatest search for species survival ever undertaken. Though the novel often reads like a series of tenuously connected graduate theses and lacks the robust drama and characterizations of good fiction, fans of hard SF that incorporates higher mathematics and provocative hypotheses about future evolution are sure to be fascinated by Egan's speculations. (Feb.)

----------------------
Publishers Weekly Reviews 1998 January #2
By the year 2975, humanity has wandered down several widely divergent evolutionary paths. "Flesher" life is that which resides in a basically human body, though genetically engineered mutations have created communication problems throughout the species. In the "polises," meanwhile, disembodied but self-aware artificial intelligences procreate, interact, make art and attempt to solve life's mathematical mysteries. Then there are the "gleisners," which are conscious, flesher-shaped robots run by self-aware software that is linked directly to the physical world through hardware. Throughout, Egan (Distress) follows the progress of Yatima, an orphan spontaneously generated by the non-sentient software of the Konishi polis. Yatima gains self-awareness, meets with Earthly fleshers and, when tragedy strikes, becomes personally involved in the greatest search for species survival ever undertaken. Though the novel often reads like a series of tenuously connected graduate theses and lacks the robust drama and characterizations of good fiction, fans of hard SF that incorporates higher mathematics and provocative hypotheses about future evolution are sure to be fascinated by Egan's speculations. (Feb.)

----------------------