Book Review: Digital Rapture - The Singularity Anthology / Editors: James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel / Publisher: Tachyon / Release Date: Out Now
“The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature in the century. We are on the edge of a change comparable to the rise of Human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence” – Vernor Vinge
This book is a looking glass into our technological future, portraying benefits and dangers and explores questions about what the next steps in human evolution may be. Are we at a dead end with the only path from here being a leap into fusion with machines? What would the implications be of this transition into the unknown? Could it be the technological apocalypse and the end of humanity? Someday we could all end up as immortal posthumans, linked by a hive mind. The knowledge we would all have would be wondrous, and the feeling of unity and connection, but there would also be a loss of identity, individuality, and privacy. Do we really want to be suped-up Frankenstein’s monsters?
These ideas and more are depicted in this anthology, which is brought together and edited by two Nebula award winning writers, James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel. Digital Rapture contains four sections, The End Of The Humans Era, The Post Humans, Across the Event Horizon, and The Others. Being comprised of 19 individual stories/essays by science fiction masters and some more recently emerging talents, it’s a nice pick and mix for people wanting to discover different authors in the sci-fi field, you are bound to discover an author you want to consume more of.
As a whole the book is enjoyable and really gets your imagination going into overdrive about what may happen in the future but with such a mix there will be some stories which don’t appeal as much. It was a strange choice to include chapter 6 of Odd John by Olaf Stapledon in the anthology, it’s the right subject matter but it just seems a bit lost. I hear it’s a classic but just the one chapter by itself seemed a little disconnected, and less enjoyable without finding out what happened in the previous chapters. In fact one of the best parts about this book is that it really shows how great writers can express so much in just a few pages, one of the strongest stories in the whole book was the shortest, which comes in at 5 pages long, Day Million by Frederik Pohl. And there are a handful of others which tell their stories in less than 15 pages. Other highlights include The Last Question by Isaac Asimov, Greg Egan’s Crystal Nights, and The Cookie Monster by Vernor Vinge.
Some believe the technological Singularity is closer than you would think, possibly within our lifetime, so embrace humanity as we know it whilst you still can! We recommend this anthology for futurists or anyone with an inquisitive mind.