The first chapter of the novel is particularly approachable & worthwhile. It's titled Orphanogenesis and is a beautiful, detailed (~30 page) account of the digital birth of a new AI consciousness, from embryo to newborn to gaining self-awareness.
Next year several Greg Egan's books will be reprinted. Diaspora comes out January 6, 2015!
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If you want a softer approach to Egan's fiction, check out his short stories. Reasons to be Cheerful is my favorite one as well as Egan's. It's part of the Luminous collection, available as a $3 kindle ebook:
If you do discover similar authors, please let me know.
All his short stories are amazing. I'd highly recommend them:
Some of his novels are hit and miss, but certainly worth checking out. This is probably my favourite:
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