September 8, 2020

From Gerald R. Lucas

Egan’s Diaspora covid-19: day 183 | US: GA | info | act

Greg-egan 1998 diaspora.jpg

This evening, I began Greg Egan’s Diaspora. I always take a couple of days to figure out what I want to read next, and this one came up in a recent Reddit discussion about transhumanism and deep time. The OP mentions Diaspora and the subsequent discussion also mention one of my favorite novellas by Charles Stross called Palimpsest, I thought I’d give the Egan a go.

The first couple of chapters are difficult. They are about the conception, birth, and adolescence of an AI. I’m not sure, yet, what this is doing here, other than making sure the reader is committed. I understand the words (well, most of them), but the ideas are so abstract, that visualizations are pretty much next to impossible. This might be Egan’s point: what he’s describing is beyond human experience, though it’s derived from from the “Fleshers”—the current homo sapiens in 2975, whom we’ll likely meet at some point. Or maybe it’s just too math-heavy for my brain. Funny, the descriptions seem very visual, but I just don’t get the pictures. This is a rock-solid, harder-than-diamonds, hard sf. My Kindle’s dictionary just shrugs when I try to look anything up.

Egan may be setting this up like a future epic, where the AI is the epic hero: birth myth, education, partially divine... I’ll have to wait and see.