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Diaspora [Paperback]

Greg Egan
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 July 1998
A dramatic insight into the future of Man in the 30th century and beyond where life is divided into three; fleshers - true homo-sapines; Gleisner robots - human minds within machines; and polises - supercomputers teeming with intellgent software containing copies of human personalities.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New edition edition (6 July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752809253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752809250
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 11.1 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 934,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Greg Egan lives in Perth, Western Australia. He has won the John W. Campbell award for Best Novel and has been short listed for the Hugo three times.

Product Description


"A conceptual tour de force" --"The New York Times" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Greg Egan lives in Perth, Western Australia. He has won the John W. Campbell award for Best Novel and has been short listed for the Hugo three times.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Yatima surveyed the Doppler-shifted stars around the polis, following the frozen, concentric waves of colour across the sky from expansion to convergence. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pure SF for the purists 16 Jan 2006
This is pure SF at its purest; original, admittedly difficult and challenging, but pushing the boundaries of the genre and rewarding the reader who perseveres.
In the past authors have felt obliged to patronise their readership by providing a certain amount of explanation of the science involved. To be fair to the average readership this is sometimes necessary and indeed Egan provides a glossary at the end of the book which defines some of the terms and concepts explored.
Even so this novel, described by one critic as ‘more science than fiction’, although a brilliant and rewarding piece, is in places very hard work, particularly when Egan goes off into pages of lengthy and eloquent scientific arpeggio.
The basic premise is that toward the end of the 30th century, Humanity has schismed into several forms: the Polises (a polis being a virtual city of digitised human brain structures), Gleisners (similarly digitised humans, but who choose to inhabit physical bodies) and Fleshers (who are physically human but may or may not have genetically engineered their structure). There are also extreme degrees of difference and divergence within these three main groups.
The aftermath of a cosmic disaster forces the polises and the gleisners to send a thousand copies of their populated cities (with copies of the inhabitants) out into the galaxy. There it is discovered – from a vanished Elder Race known as The Transmuters who have left coded messages locked within the structures of neutrons - that a similar collapse is about to occur at the core of the galaxy. One millions of times more powerful than the original disaster; one which will engulf the entire galaxy.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something else entirely 11 July 2002
In his previous novels, Greg Egan's hardcore scientific speculation has always seemed to be shoehorned, slightly awkwardly, into his decently imagined, elegantly written plots. A less brave writer might have reined in the science, and created a more conventional novel. Egan, instead, turns it up to 11, and may, in the process, have kickstarted an entirely new kind of writing.
Hundreds of years from now, 'humanity' is mostly a collective of self-generating, autonomous software running on underground computers. When an unexpected cosmic event kills off all remaining organic life on earth, and also shakes the foundations of known physics, it stirs this somewhat decadent posthumanity to launch these 'polises' on a grand quest to the stars, to find out what happened, whether it will happen again, and if there is any way of escaping it.
They find the rather bleak answers to their questions, and much more besides, in a tale so unlike anything else, that it can barely be called a novel. Instead, it's a travelogue through realms of incredible physics, concisely and, if you're prepared to make a bit of effort, very clearly explained.
A lot of the science is doubtless borderline gibberish (although you get a bibliography at the end which includes at least one scientific paper!), but that's not important. This is art, and what Egan has done is used the language of contemporary maths, physics and occasionally biology to conjure up artefacts so poetic, so beautiful in concept, that they demand to be believed.
And, bravely, he's left it at that, challenging the reader either to enjoy the exuberance of his worlds as much as he does, or go and do something else instead.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for science fiction fans 8 Dec 2001
By A Customer
No science fiction fan's life is complete until they have read this truly extraordinary novel. 'Diaspora' is a novel that could change the way you think about science fiction.
Post-human civilisation is a land where most science fiction writers fear to tread. Egan, however, charges in like the tourist guide to the end of the universe, training the spotlight of his fearsome narrative skill on all its most interesting and relevant features.
Egan deals with such abstract, difficult concepts that it seems miraculous that he can explain them at all, let alone with such clarity that a lay reader like myself has no trouble following his thread. That he also manages to tell a genuinely emotive story in this strange and alien world is even more surprising. Readers should be advised however that the first quarter of the book is quite hard going - stick with it, you won't be sorry you did. Towards the end the book becomes so intense that you won't be able to put it down, no matter how many multi-dimensional perceptual spaces or quantum-level machinery descriptions Egan can throw in to see if you're still paying attention. Wonder after astrophysical wonder flies from the page, and I guarantee that if you make it past the halfway point, you'll finish it wanting more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SF's Greatest Living Writer? 30 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Greg Egan continues with the manifesto he set himself with Permutation City. Grander in scope than the earlier book, he again tackles the question: What would it mean to download human consciousness to the digital domain? One of SF's great ideas men, the answers he provides are as subtle and as surprising as ever.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely clever
I must admit I did have to Google some of the quantum physics concepts a few times, but persevering I found this to be utterly brilliant. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most amazing books I have ever read
This is a book I still think about when I consider my place in this universe. The way Greg Egan extrapolates real-world concepts to their logical, but fantastical conclusions is... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Dylan Hall
4.0 out of 5 stars Accelerating the genre w/ indecipherable hard science
Diaspora reads more like a series of interconnected short stories than a solid novel like Egan's Permutation City or Quarantine. Read more
Published on 11 Oct 2011 by M-I-K-E 2theD
1.0 out of 5 stars Like undergoing a brutal assault by an Ikea catalogue crossed with a...
Oh lord. I came to Diaspora after having it recommended by several friends. I'm not a MASSIVE fan of sci-fi but had, once, greatly enjoyed the Big (cheesy? Read more
Published on 3 Feb 2011 by Mrs Quoad
2.0 out of 5 stars Pseudo science gets boring after a few hundred pages
The story idea is a good one - the book starts off without explaining a damn thing - so its a good puzzle to solve; but just as you manage that - it goes into chapters of pseudo... Read more
Published on 26 May 2010 by CjW
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard SF, hard physics
I enjoyed this tale of Virtual life and space / universe travel. A couple of things irritated me, the use of 'vis, ver, vim' as personal pronouns and the unnecessarily detailed... Read more
Published on 30 April 2010 by Stephen M Blank
5.0 out of 5 stars !!!Concept Vertigo!!!
Firstly; watch out for plot spoiler reviews!!
(it's not a mystery tour if you know where your heading)

Egan's work is 'Hard' Sci-Fi of the highest order. Read more
Published on 11 Jan 2010 by numpty
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard pseudo science rather than plot
Unfortunately this book really didn't impress me. It seems to be an exploration of pseudo science and an exercise to attempt to describe six dimensional space. Read more
Published on 26 April 2003 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great hard science conceptual tale.
I am an avid and longstanding reader of SF and I prefer it to be hard science based and rooted in current theories and the latest ideas. Read more
Published on 13 Mar 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Greg Egan is one of the very few people keeping hard science fiction alive. The blurb is spot on: a great ideas man. Buy it!
Published on 24 May 2000
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