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November 10, 2011 1:50 PM   Subscribe

I want to read more science fiction novels that deal with Artificial Intelligence or the Singularity or both. What do you recommend?

The question pretty much says it all.

I'm aware of Robert Sawyer's WWW Trilogy. I haven't read any Vernor Vinge but I understand he also deals with this topic.

Specific recommendations of novels to look at would be great.

I'm less interested in so-called "space opera" novels, though I'd be willing to consider especially good ones that deal with either AI or the Singularity or both.

Thanks!
posted by dfriedman to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (32 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
Neuromancer.
posted by empath at 1:52 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dan Simmons' Hyperion and the sequels may be a bit more "space opera" than you'd like but venture into some really interesting AI territory.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:54 PM on November 10, 2011


Have you read any of Isaac Asimov's robot stories? I, robot is a classic.
posted by garlic at 1:55 PM on November 10, 2011


Vernor Vinge for sure.
posted by Jairus at 1:57 PM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Anything by Greg Egan. Particularly, Diaspora for post-singularity/post-humanity, Zendegi for how mind uploading begins to happen.
posted by edguardo at 2:00 PM on November 10, 2011


Seconding Vernor Vinge!
posted by Cwell at 2:01 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the Sprawl Trilogy by William Gibson seems like an obvious choice. Heart of the Comet, by Gregory Benford and David Brin also deals (towards the end0 with machine intelligence. The classic, of course, is 2001 by Arthur C. Clark.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:02 PM on November 10, 2011


Have you read The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect? More of a novella, available online. It's well, uneven, but still quite interesting. Worth a look.
posted by elendil71 at 2:02 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Accelerando by Charles Stross. They are kind of short stories, but all linked together telling a story that takes place before, during and after the singularity.
posted by lollusc at 2:04 PM on November 10, 2011


Sarah Zettel's Fool's War is definitely more space opera, but maybe you'd like it. Deals with existing AI looking out for emergent AI.
posted by aimedwander at 2:04 PM on November 10, 2011


The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlen would give you a 1960's-era view of the topic, along with a healthy dose of libertarian politics. Steel Beach by John Varley also centrally features an AI character.
posted by richyoung at 2:06 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep - a classic on Artificial Intelligence
posted by Flood at 2:08 PM on November 10, 2011


Spin State by Chris Moriarty (and its sequel, Spin Control).
posted by unsub at 2:10 PM on November 10, 2011


Wil MacCarthy is less-well known, likely because his futures are so gloomy. Bloom is a singularity gone wrong.

Elisabeth Bear
has just completed her Jacob’s Ladder Trilogy: Dust, Chill, and Grail, a post-singularity society on a generational starship (gone wrong).

One of the first earliest depictions of singularity (or proto-sigularity) is Clarke's Childhood's End, from the perspective of one of those left behind. The question of this singularity event going wrong is left unanswered.
posted by bonehead at 2:12 PM on November 10, 2011


Jasper FForde's Thurday Next series deals with the grey-goo variety of the Singularity in a really fun way, but it's in the second book of the series, not the first.
posted by Mchelly at 2:14 PM on November 10, 2011


Accelerando, Singularity Sky, and Iron Sunrise, by Charles Stross.

But especially Accelerando. The vile offspring, the festival ("Tell us a story, and we'll give you anything you want!"), uplifted lobsters, and an extremely intelligent and powerful cat. So, so much good stuff in there.

I am the Eschaton. I am not your God.
I am descended from you, and exist in your future.
Thou shalt not violate causality within my historic light cone. Or else.

posted by General Tonic at 2:14 PM on November 10, 2011


Vinge needs qualification: you want A Fire Upon the Deep. Some of his other stuff is OK but not as good as that one, and it's Fire Upon the Deep that most directly deals with AI and singularity issues.
posted by Nelson at 2:15 PM on November 10, 2011


I enjoyed Appleseed by John Clute.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:18 PM on November 10, 2011


Oh, and Ken Macleod's Newton's Wake.
posted by General Tonic at 2:18 PM on November 10, 2011


edgardo is close.

The Egan you want is Permutation City.

Astonishing to me it looks there like it is not currently in print.
posted by bukvich at 2:20 PM on November 10, 2011


Peter Watts Blindsight is about a singularity event (or is that too much of a spoiler?).
posted by bonehead at 2:20 PM on November 10, 2011


The other obvious, for sure recommendation: have you read any Iain M. Banks? If not, you need to get Cultured. The Culture is sideways of a singularity (they could transcend, but playing in the regular universe is too fun), buy very strongly AI. Consider Phlebas is the first book, but I think Player of Games is a better starting point.
posted by bonehead at 2:29 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here is a recent question on the topic.
posted by St. Sorryass at 2:33 PM on November 10, 2011


I'm a fan of The Mirrored Heavens by David Williams, which is cyber punkish. Seconding Peter Watts, although just in general, AI's a big theme in his Rifter's series as well (at least the couple I've read).

Also, not exactly AI, but both The Invincible and Peace on Earth by Lem have an interesting take on artificial life. Oh and the Cyberiad is a great set of fairy tales about robots.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:47 PM on November 10, 2011


Ken MacLeod's Fall Revolution books -- The Star Fraction, The Stone Canals, The Cassini Division, The Sky Road.

Greg Bear's Queen of Angels, Moving Mars, and / .
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:48 PM on November 10, 2011


I came in to recommend Robert Heinlein's "The Moon is A Harsh Mistress" and Phillip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", but I've been beaten to both, so I'll just second them! (And it may be anathema to many folks, but I think the Dick book is FAR better than the movie *alledgedly* based on it, "Bladerunner.")
posted by easily confused at 3:07 PM on November 10, 2011


I'll take any opportunity I can to recommend As She Climbed Across the Table.
posted by ausdemfenster at 3:26 PM on November 10, 2011


The singularity is bad news in Robopocalypse.
posted by nicwolff at 3:27 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nthing Iain M Banks' Culture series (AI), cstross's Accelerando (Singularity), Heinlen's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (AI). Also have to nth Greg Egan, whose imagination is simply staggering, especially Diaspora.

But also - cstross's Saturn's Children (AI), about a robot society. Tremendous fun - ignore the cover.

Bank's Against a Dark Background (not Culture) - towards the end the protagonist reaches and interacts with the AI citizens of a robot city.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:37 PM on November 10, 2011


I'm aware of Robert Sawyer's WWW Trilogy. I haven't read any Vernor Vinge but I understand he also deals with this topic.

To be clear, Vinge doesn't just "deal with the topic", in the context of science fiction literature he originated the concept. He deals with it the same way Tolkien deals with Middle Earth.
posted by Justinian at 5:59 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rudy Rucker's Ware Tetralogy is a spectacularly eccentric take on sentient machine evolution and culture, featuring cannibalism, mind-melding, and a man marrying a sentient cloak. It's a series of four (all Creative Commons-licensed) novels with publication dates ranging from 1982 to 2000. Like Accelerando, it's loosely based around one family across different generations as technology develops around them.

He also has a novel specifically about the Singularity. It's called Postsingular. Both it and the Tetralogy deal with themes of societal development, post-scarcity economies, shifting forms of identity, and sexual confusion, as far as I can tell. Expect a lot of future slang, new fetishes, and examination of cultural norms.
posted by Tubalcain at 8:29 AM on November 11, 2011


As long as you aren't easily offended by sex, violence, and violent sex with your AI/Singularity scifi, I HIGHLY recommend (Metafilter's own) localroger's Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect. This is a very good book.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 4:48 PM on November 11, 2011


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