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A maverick astrophysicist, a rookie secret agent, and an uncanny consultant join forces in this technological thriller to stop the capture of a submicroscopic black hole whose power will be harnessed to transformor endthe world More than a hundred years earlier, the most violent cosmic collision ever recorded flattened a remote area in Tunguska, Siberia Now, astrophysicist Jack Adler, conducting research at the site, discovers a tiny black hole at the center of the mysterious event, and alarmingly, the object has been burrowing its way through the Earth's core ever since Meanwhile, secret agent Marianna Bonaventure enlists the help of Jonathan Knox, an analyst with an uncanny ability to find hidden relationships between seemingly disparate people and events, to search for three missing scientists and infiltrate the floating headquarters of a Russian industrialist

10 thoughts on “Singularity

  1. Bill Bill says:

    What can I say? -- I wrote it. But other people seemed to like it. To quote Stephen Hawking's best bud Kip Thorne: “Bill got the vast majority of the physics right, which is highly unusual — especially in a book that is such a good read.”

    If you want a hardcover, though, you'll have to move quickly -- the first edition (available on Amazon and B&N.com) is nearly sold out. Alternatively, you can listen to the free podcast at http://www.podiobooks.com/title/singu....

  2. CJ CJ says:

    The basis of the story revolves around an event that occurred in 1908 in the bleak Siberian locale named Tunguska. The novel supposes that the Tunguska explosion of 1908 wasn't caused by a meteor or a comet, as commonly thought, but by a sub atomic black hole.

    The story ends up being quite a thriller -- utilizing secret government agencies, innocent bystanders evolving into heroes, and quantum physics. Quantum physics, you ask? Now don't get me wrong...I did not pay attention in physics class in high school or college, for that matter. Still the story is plausible because the author is adept at explaining the intricacies of quantum physics (i.e. lifecycles of black holes, Hawking radiation, etc.) without putting the reader to sleep. I would say that the experience of reading this book was akin to reading Jurassic Park, where Michael Crichton explained the minutia of DNA splicing that gave you just enough of an understanding to be dangerous and resonates so closely to actual fact that reader is convinced that dinosaurs can be extracted from amber! In the same sense, Bill DeSmedt has the reader believing that a sub atomic black hole could be orbiting in the Earth's crust, lurking.

    I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the quality of the characters. I absolutely fell in love with one of the primary characters, Jonathan Knox. Jonathan is a consultant who becomes wrapped up (no pun intended) with a elite government agency operative named Marianna Bonaventure. Their quest to locate a missing Russian scientist leads them into the hands of the seemingly innocuous Russian billionaire, Arkady Grigoriyevich Greshin. But under the cultured facade of their Russian host lurks an uber-secret effort to catch a primordial black hole and change the course of history! Assisted by Mycroft (a computer specialist of unmatched ability) and Texas physicist Jack Adler, Jonathan and Marianna try to unravel this mystery before time runs out -- for everyone on Earth!

    The author himself was a one time physics major, a consultant, and has a background in Russian studies (a la Jonathan Knox). The latter is important to the audiobook because the author uses Russian accents to bring his characters to life. It brings a whole new dimension to the experience of the story and makes it absolutely riveting.

    Since reading this book I felt a bit of regret that I didn't delve further into the sciences while in school. On the bright side, I was inspired by this book to read Stephen Hawkings book A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell (which I am currently reading). I believe the highest praise an author can receive is that the results of their craft motivated another person in some small way.

    One last note: If you're intrigued you can get the free podcast version of the audiobook at the author's website (there is a link for it at the bottom of the page):


  3. George George says:

    I have been listening to the audiobook version of this (found on Podiobooks.com) on my commute, and have been blown away by the story. It's gripping, action packed, and filled with excellent science and geek-ness. Super spies, corporate greed, and a quantum singularity.

  4. Ron Ron says:

    Science Fiction. Hard science fiction. Dense science fiction. Like a … you get the point.

    Incredible freshman effort which grabs the reader by the throat and drags him or her, often willingly, deep into history, science, politics and consequences. You can read the blurb at any good book site, but they can’t tell you how DeSmedt skillfully lays out the treads to his tale then meticulously weaves them into a plausible, yet incredible, plot. He does.

    Few technical quibbles and only one lapse of logic, but most readers won’t spot it or won’t care. I didn’t.

    And, almost as important these days, it’s a complete, satisfying tale told between one pair of covers.
    Excellent job.

  5. John John says:

    I reviewed this book a few years back for Infinity Plus and was reminded of it recently. As it's a favourite book of mine I thought I'd reprint my Infinity Plus review here

    The first book from a new Seattle publisher that aims to compete head-on with the established big boys, Per Aspera Press, Singularity is an effective technothriller that stamps DeSmedt's name on the field in no uncertain manner.

    Marianna Bonaventure is an inexperienced agent for CROM, a US covert agency charged with keeping track of the nuclear materials and knowhow left lying around after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and -- more to the point -- with attempting to make sure none of it falls into the hands of terrorists or rogue nations. (Yes, there's an irony in the rogue nations part of this.) She finds that there is something suspicious going on around the enigmatic Russian industrialist Arkady Grishin, who makes his base of operations on a vast ocean liner, the Rusalka. In order to help her probe this mystery, she ropes in Jonathan Knox, a high-priced civilian business analyst who has a great knack for solving problems through near-instinctive pattern-recognition. At first reluctant about everything to do with the caper except the charms of Ms Bonaventure, Knox soon finds himself an enthusiastic participant in the investigation, as it becomes clearer and clearer that the nature of Grishin's ambitions is world-affectingly grim.

    Meanwhile, on the far side of the globe, Texan physicist Jack Adler is bemused to the extent to which his Russian colleagues on an expedition into the wilds of Siberia to examine the region of the Tunguska Event of 1907 are resistant to his theory of its cause. That theory posits that the earth was hit by a mini black hole, a remnant from the Big Bang. It's a perfectly valid real-world hypothesis; Adler's extension of it is that the black hole may very well have taken up a complex spiralling orbit within the body of our planet. He finds what appears to be proof of this, but then all of his records and equipment are destroyed in a murderous attack.

    Through many complicated routes, Bonaventure and Knox, placed as spies aboard the Rusalka, come close to hitting on Adler's theory independently, and in due course their suspicions are confirmed through a direct electronic contact with Adler himself. Grishin and his scientists have developed a way of capturing the black hole, stripping it temporarily of its event horizon, and using the naked singularity as a time machine whereby they can alter history to their own gain and human civilization's enormous disbenefit.

    As in any technothriller, there are two elements to this novel, the techno part -- the scientific/technological underpinning -- and the thriller part.

    It's in the techno part that DeSmedt shines. He has an astonishing gift for explaining really quite abstruse physical and technological concepts with clarity and immediacy, and in making such explanations both fascinating and -- let's be forthright here -- enormous fun. Even if you're perfectly au fait with current ideas about black holes and their physics, the novel is worth reading just for the flamboyant joy of these expository passages. DeSmedt is clearly passionately in love with these areas of physics, and he succeeds completely in conveying that passion to the reader.

    Similarly, his extrapolations from present into near-future technology are entirely convincing -- at least to this reader. I finished this book with my mind in a total jumble as to which of the communication/surveillance technologies depicted are current in the real world and which are merely products of DeSmedt's controlled imagination; all of them seemed equally plausible. As for the technologies involved in black-hole capture, they too seemed highly feasible. It's a while since my disbelief has been so convincingly suspended by a technothriller.

    DeSmedt is less accomplished in the thriller element of the novel, but luckily he's saved by another of his great skills: the creation of excellently sympathetic characters. Marianna Bonaventure is a wonderful creation; she stands out in a genre where the smart, kickass, yummy female has come to be regarded as little more than a standard part of the toolkit. This is because all of her many strengths as a person are in part a product of the weaknesses she also possesses. At first she completely flummoxes Knox, who simply cannot find a way to relate to her complexities, his reactions to her beauty and her personality all clashing with each other. The reader's reactions are likely to be similar, until at last, probably more than halfway through this long book, it becomes possible to understand, at all levels, this thoroughly three-dimensional -- and certainly very engaging -- individual.

    Knox himself is no mean fictional creation. He's somewhat reminiscent of an Ellery Queen for the twenty-first century in his powers of ratiocination and his veneer of general geekiness, but he's a far more real person than Ellery Queen could ever be. DeSmedt's semi-major characters, too, leap from the page: Sasha, the old friend of Knox's who has compromised his idealism in the pursuit of entrancing technology; Galina, another old acquaintance of Knox, a tragic figure whose love for children is brutally matched by her inability to have a child of her own, and who, unknowing of Grishin's fell motives, is the primary technological brain behind his endeavours; and Mycroft, a.k.a., Dr Finley Laurence, the super-analyst and cybernautics genius to whom Knox turns when his own impressive analytical powers prove insufficient. Even Bonaventure's boss, the shoot-first-think-later bureaucratic numbskull Pete Aristos, has a delightful sense of realness about him. Only the character intended as our heroes' ultimate focus of dread, Yuri, Grishin's murderous sidekick, is a bit of a cypher; in essence, he's Jaws from the James Bond movies but without any of the redeeming characteristics. Grishin likewise seems to have been drawn from Central Casting.

    Perhaps Yuri in particular epitomizes the novel's weakness as a thriller. The thug-dodging and general hijinks are all perfectly competently done, but they lack the marvelous originality of the rest of the novel: you find yourself aching for each exciting bit to be over so you can get back to the really exciting stories being told -- the next link in the scientific chain, or what's happening in the faux pas-strewn mutual circling going on between Bonaventure and Knox. As implied above, it's because of the enormous strength of these aspects -- the scientific and the emotional -- that the novel swings grippingly along at the high pace that it does; the relative weakness of the adventure aspects, their resorting-to-the-default aura, becomes more or less irrelevant.

    The back of the book bears a stack of cover quotes from noteworthies: Kevin J. Anderson, David Brin, Kip Thorne, Greg Bear and Anthony Olcott. Unusually, I found that I agreed with just about everything they say; for once their enthusiasm isn't merely mega-inflated hype. With one exception. Anderson says: Singularity juggles Clancy, Crichton, and The Da Vinci Code. The comparison with Crichton is justified, although DeSmedt is by far the better novelist of the two. The comparison with Clancy may be justified: I've never been able to get beyond about twenty pages of any of Clancy's writings, so rely for my knowledge of them on the rather jolly movies. But Singularity has no connection whatsoever with The Da Vinci Code; the comment is quite simply absurd -- a thoroughly egregious example of the base art of rentaquote. In the ordinary way I'd not bother mentioning this piece of folly, but Singularity is something, well, a bit special. Shame on Per Aspera for so cheapening the treasure they've published!

    Throughout this review I've been describing Singularity as a technothriller. As will be evident, though, it can also be approached as hard sf. In that context, too, it's eminently successful -- in fact, it's the most readable piece of hard sf, by a quite significant margin, that I've come across in a fairly long while, and, enlivened as it is by its glorious characterization (or, to be waspish, by characters at all), should be recommended reading for most of the authors currently working in the subgenre.

    However, matters of categorization are best left to the Dryasdusts and Panglosses: technothriller or hard sf, who really cares? It's purely as a work of imaginative fiction, classification be damned, that Singularity should be assessed. Well, put it this way: this is a book you'll want to own in hardback. Even if your more usual taste is for fantasy (well, perhaps not if it's for generic high fantasy), you're almost certain to enjoy this one. DeSmedt is a wonderful newcomer to the field, and his debut one of great significance to it. I cannot believe otherwise than that his voice will be given the attention it so emphatically deserves in the years to come.

  6. Bookmarks Magazine Bookmarks Magazine says:

    Publisher Per Aspera Press took a gamble__their debut is DeSmedt's first novel__and it paid off. In this scientific technothriller, DeSmedt fictionalizes the possible implications of the bizarre explosion in Tunguska, Siberia. It didn't result from a small meteorite, his protagonists speculate, but rather from a tiny black hole crashing into Earth. It's a convincing, if farfetched, interpretation, made more realistic by DeSmedt's believable what if scenario. The scientifically accurate dialogue, unpredictable plot twists, and characters (Bonaventure is a real, breathing woman with emotions) give the book surprising depth. The verdict: move over Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke for the new author in town. This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

  7. Bridget Bridget says:

    Can this excellent thriller really be Bill deSmedt's first novel? If so, I'm really looking forward to his second. Singularity is a truly excellent mix of political thriller and science fiction, in the truest sense of that label: fiction about science.

    Remember that theory that the Tunguska event was caused by a sub-microscopic black hole? And the subsequent arguments that this couldn't be the case, as there was no evidence of an exit location? Bill deSmedt takes some expertise and some painstaking research, mixes that with an impressive ability to write and tell a story, and bakes up a big novel that will keep you guessing, and flinching, and hyperventilating, and READING right up to the amazing end.

  8. Larry Larry says:

    I had read Singularity in hard cover when it first came out, and liked it so much I bought 2 more copies as gifts. Now that it's available as an ebook I just bought it again. I have a special affinity for Jonathan Knox, Consultant, as I have been an IT consultant most of my working life. In Singularity Jon teams with Marianna, a US Government spook (or more correctly is shanghaied by her) to...well...save the world from evildoers. The book is extraordinarily well researched, from details of the Tunguska event through the physics of black holes (and is even endorsed by physicist Kip Thorne). While it starts with a hard science background, it is first and formost a great technothriller with believable characters, seriously villainous bad guys and and an ending gripping to the last page.

  9. Norma Norma says:

    Smart, beautifully written, and thrilling novel.

    DeSmedt is a great story teller. The novel is gripping from the very beginning. The storylines are brilliant and are cleverly woven together. The characters are smart and interesting. The writing is witty and delicious. It is a smart read with the author's deep knowledge of spies and science fueling the fast pace. This is cutting-edge fiction. I have yet to read a novel as good as Singularity. I eagerly await Mr. DeSmedt's next novel, Dualism. I know he won't disappoint.

  10. Kevin Kevin says:

    Very well written scientific adventure story, kind of like a Clive Cussler novel co written with a very smart physicist. This is a story about one of many possible theories trying to explain the mysterious blast crater in the Tunguska region of Russia many decades ago. Think teeny tiny black holes. I don't know if the science was right all the time but it didn't really matter as it sounded plausible and the intrigue, action, and characters all kept me entertained through to the end. I enjoyed this very much and look forward to the upcoming sequel, or anything else by this author.