Political Intelligence


In 1993 science fiction author and computer science professor Vernor Vinge predicted the coming of "the Singularity," a technological awakening that he believed would lead to superior artificial intelligence—a milestone "comparable to the rise of human life on Earth." Much of Vinge's fiction focuses on the transition from the clunky world of human-only intelligence to the nothing-is-impossible universe of the Singularity. His latest novel, Children of the Sky, is no exception.

A direct sequel to the Hugo Award–winning A Fire Upon the Deep, Vinge's 1992 novel that previewed the Singularity, his new book tells of an emerging extraterrestrial civilization forced to rush through the phases of technological development in the hope of defending against a godlike, super-intelligent alien threat. There are technological troubles aplenty, but the biggest problem is an old one: politics. As always, Vinge understands that technology is a tool of political and sociological change—and that a society can only be as good as its governance. —Peter Suderman