Diaspora (1997)

Backcover Synopsis: It is the end of the thirtieth century. While ‘fleshers’, what is left of the Homo sapiens, remain in the muck and jungle of earth, much of human kind has achieved apparent immortality – as ‘Gleisner robots’: embodying human minds within machines, and as ‘polises’: supercomputers teeming with intelligent software containing the direct copies of billions of human personalities. A random mutation of the Konishi polis base mind seed creates an orphan, Yatima. When an astrophysical disaster threatens to destroy earth, Yatima sets out to discover a home where random acts of God will never threaten their existence again.

Together with Permutation City the very best Egan has ever written (apart from some of his short stories). It gets old when I say that his books are full of neat ideas, but it’s also true. Egan is always stretching the boundary of our imagination, and he does that with an interesting mix of speculative physics and visionary ideas for the future of mankind. Diaspora begins near the end of the third millennium, and stretches into a future far away from every place we call home now, our world, our universe, even as far away as possible from our place in time.

It is a voyage that spans all potentialities that mankind can aspire to realize, and when it ends, the only way forward is completion and end, or change into something new and different. Unlike his three earlier novels (Quarantine, Permutation City and Distress), there’s no twist with a big wow-effect in the end, the novel closes with a quiet contemplation of what to do next, but the implications of the road that has been traveled before and what comes after, is big enough in itself.