Centuries by A.A. Attanasio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is easily way up there on my list of best SFs.
It tickles all my most precious fancies: a massive exploration of what it means to be human and how we might alter ourselves -- or simply be taken over by our better children.
Better than that, the novel tackles a long-scale plot, taking us from a near-modern-dystopia all the way to the farthest reaches of time, universe exploration (and tweaking), and back again to the main theme of what it means to be human.
Now, I'll be perfectly honest, I've read a number of books quite a bit like this already but I don't think there's anything like a glut of it on the market. We're talking about great science, falling down the rabbit holes of drill-down storytelling, the possible (and quite horrible) results of taking certain science all the way to its natural conclusion, and then having to live with the consequences of it.
I could read these all day, every day for a year, and never get bored.
Because when you're talking about creating meta-humans, transhumanism, AIs, next-stage humans, quantum-state humans, post-light humans, collapsing galaxies, con-men, love stories, and saving the universe stories, IT'S ALL RIGHT HERE.
The scale is here. Great characters are here. The effort and love and devotion to this wonderful branch of Hard SF are all right here.
I'll just say this: there ARE some recent SF authors that still carry on this tradition, but most have dropped off the map. This is a big shame. I look back at the 80's SF epics and the devoted following of 90's epic SF that spiced it up while keeping the scope awesome and miss those times. This was right in the middle of that glorious age in 1997 and I honestly believe a lot of really fantastic books just slipped through the cracks during that time. Whether from lack of marketing or upkeep of an author's brand or whatever, a lot of these books are STILL excellent and would do much better now, in today's market, than most of the new stuff coming out.
Maybe this is a weird opinion. Maybe not. But this book is a real gem that shouldn't be forgotten.
Let's lump it in with Iain M. Banks, Peter F. Hamilton, Alistair Reynolds, Dan Simmons, and David Zindell, shall we? And add Poul Anderson, Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, and Olaf Stapledon.
Old fans will know what I'm talking about. Future History stuff. Big Scope.
Books like these are some of the best that we, as humanity, can aspire to. :)
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