This is a science fiction book by an outspoken singularity proponent. This book deals with the singularity in an indirect way. The singularity is one mystery, in a gripping book with many mysteries.
The singularity has many different formulations and definitions. However, one of its more universal features is that it is supposedly incomprehensible to us today. We think that the future will be so radically different from the way it is now that understanding it would be like an earthworm understanding Shakespeare. Because of this problem we aren’t supposed to be able to make predictions about it. While this may be so, it hasn’t stopped many futurists and singularity proponents from trying. Hans Moravec and Ray Kurzweil both believe that future A.I. will eventually try to turn the entire universe into one big highly efficient computer. Some predict we will extend our lifespans for thousands of years while others believe we’re certainly doomed.
Some are guilty of inconsistency because they believe that there is a point in the future beyond which speculation goes from merely very hard to completely impossible and then they try to look past that point anyway. Vernor Vinge definitely is not guilty of this sort of inconsistency. While his book imaginatively deals with future technologies, it sets the singularity clearly apart as a complete mystery. It also spells out clearly the accelerating nature of technological change- which is after all the whole reason believing the singularity is around the corner and the whole reason this is actually an interesting topic. The book accomplishes this by examining characters from different eras. Those from the time just before the singularity are dealt with in a particularly interesting way in the book.
Marooned in Real Time uses an altered timeline to look at the mystery of the singularity from another angle and in doing so makes the mystery of it all the more intriguing. It does so in one of the most enjoyable science fiction books I have ever read. It is hard science fiction and true to the concept of the singularity. I would highly recommend it.