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Diaspora by Greg Egan - Printable Version

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Diaspora by Greg Egan - Rynn - 02-28-2018

Not entirely sure how many people were on board with the book club idea, if not many this idea can go back in the box Tongue Of those who picked up the book what thoughts did you have?

I really enjoy this book. For me it's a great example of Egan at his best; we have a hard-SF setting, a story based around the empirical exploration of new phenomenon and a smattering of interesting technology that has shifted the societies in a way that is logical and unfamiliar. Will hold off more comments for now and see how the discussion goes Smile

RE: Diaspora by Greg Egan - stevebowers - 03-01-2018

Lots of inspirational elements in this book; it is cited as one of the early influences on the OA scenario. Here are Anders Sanberg's thoughts on it, from this page
Quote:Diaspora - The book about posthuman life, nanotech, picotech and femtotech entities. Begins in the year 3000 when most of the human population has either uploaded into the net, become cyborgs or highly modified posthumans, and then gradually expands it scope towards more and more grandiose themes. Not an easy going at times, but crammed with ideas. Overall, Greg Egan has written several novels and short stories relevant to Orion's Arm.

RE: Diaspora by Greg Egan - stevebowers - 03-01-2018

My interest in this book has always been largely due to the various types of sophont described within.
The Orphan Yatima is a kind of procedurally-generated mind, drawn entirely from generalised mental characteristics ( as opposed to minds that are created from the traits of specific individuals); both kinds of minds could be described in more detail in OA if we wish. These inhabitants of the 'polises' are generally virtual in nature, although they can adopt physical bodies at times.
Statics are ordinary humans, who seem to be quite low-tech and even luddite in nature. Another kind of biont described is the Exuberant; the equivalent of various augmented and bio-modified clades in OA . Finally there are humans that have uploaded themselves into robot bodies; Gleisners (these are something like the Temporary Bodies and Incarnates in OA, although the Gleisners seem to use the robots as Permanent rather than Temporary homes).

Wang's Carpets are another really interesting concept, an alien one this time; they apparently originated in a short story by Egan in 1995.

I might cook up a polity based on the Gleisner concept one day, although we have used the idea in various forms in a number of articles already.

RE: Diaspora by Greg Egan - Rynn - 03-02-2018

(03-01-2018, 05:20 AM)stevebowers Wrote: Statics are ordinary humans, who seem to be quite low-tech and even luddite in nature.

I didn't get the impression the Fleshers were luddites as opposed to part of a long running recovery from a past catastrophe. The book mentions but never really goes into something called the "Introdus" which occured around 2100, the word is the antonym of "exodus" and likely refers to the droves of people uploading into the virtual world. The details aren't entirely clear but my interpretation was this period was a cataclysmic one defined by radical climate damage, overpopulation and eventually economic collapse (precipitated by large swathes of humanity migrating into solipsist virtual worlds).

The Fleshers we meet live in a very different Earth to our own. Their "city" is near the ruins of Atlanta in a rainforest where the daytime temperature is 45°C. That's significantly above safe temperature for most organisms, it's more like what you'd find in a desert. It's pretty clear that the ecosystem, potentially the entire biosphere, has been heavily genetically engineered and cultivated. The plants actually move out of the way for humans expressing the correct pheromonal keys. The Fleshers also talk about how they're still tweaking their crops for the local area to sustain a larger population (they're not even from the region but came from the mediterranean and found the region empty due to plague.

The technology the fleshers have is impressive (they casually mention being biologically immortal and self-augmentation seems routine) but the backdrop of the Earth seems like its been one of centuries of painstaking recovery, one unaided by the virtual citizens who rarely interact with the outside and the Gleisner robots who all left to live in space.

One thing I did love about the Fleshers was their mission; to reunite the various tribes of biological beings who have mentally diverged the group we meet consciously alter themselves so that they fill all the gaps. The diversal mental architecture of the Bridger population means that no sentient biological being is ever more than four people away from the most mentally different sophont. This is a cool concept and one I've thought about before for OA. It was good to see it crop up later in the book when a former Flesher turned upload copies himself with each copy being slightly mentally different until the chain can communicate messages to an alien intelligence.

Quote:I might cook up a polity based on the Gleisner concept one day, although we have used the idea in various forms in a number of articles already.

Whilst the Gleisner and virtual citizens originated as uploads I get the impression that the vast majority of them in the year 3000 are natural borns. It certainly seems like the three decendent kingdoms of terran sophonts are diverging more and more, having less to do with each other, until the events of the plot force them all to interact again.

RE: Diaspora by Greg Egan - stevebowers - 03-03-2018

Yeah, you are right; the Fleshers aren't Luddite, but they are philosophically opposed to uploading. I suppose this isn't really surprising, since they are the descendants of humans who did not upload themselves centuries before. When Lacerta G-1 occurs, uploading is a pretty good way of escaping, but most of them reject it.

Even in OA there are large sections of the population who reject uploading and backup technology; quite a few of those are biologically immortal, but without backup tech these bionts are at the mercy of fatal accidents. In our own society about 2% of humans are killed in accidents; this means a human might expect to live about 50 current-day lifetimes - maybe 4000 years (on average) - before being killed in an accident. Presumably trauma medicine and general levels of safety would improve and make this expected lifetime even longer. By that time one's biological memory would probably have run out of room long ago, so you'd be a newish person anyway.

RE: Diaspora by Greg Egan - Drashner1 - 03-03-2018

There are various passing mentions early in the book that indicate that the time around and during the 'Introdus' was rather rough.

Mention is made of the polises and fleshers having enforced separation of their comm networks due to 'abuses on both sides' in the past, and also it's strongly implied/flat out stated that the location of the polis's computronium is kept hidden as a security feature.