Ace, August 2003, 23.95, 320 pp.
During the mid-twenty first century, a superhuman intelligence that calls itself the Echelon makes it's presence known to the inhabitants of Earth in a big way. Nine of the ten billion people on Earth disappear and it is discovered that they are involuntary colonists on thousands of worlds. The Eschaton warns the humans that if they try and figure out causality (time travel) and use it, they will be destroyed.
When one planet did exactly that, the Eschaton destroyed thirty planets making up that solar system. The empire of the New Republic wants no part of advanced technology and it keeps the inhabitants in the member worlds on a level with Tsarist Russia. One of the most technologically backward planets of The New Republic, Rochard's World, is being deluged by an information plague known as the Festival. The fatherland planet is sending its warships to destroy the festival but two people onboard one of the starships have a different agenda that must be carried out if they don't want the Eschaton to take hostile action.
SINGULARITY SKY is a fascinating space opera that immediately grabs and keeps the attention of the reader. The Eschaton is an ingenious concept and it would be terrific if the author would write another book involving it at a more intimate level. The idea of the Festival, a non-sentient communication repair machine is very original and it is interesting to see how the people of Rochard's world react to the information overload. Charles Stross is a very creative and innovative storyteller.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner