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I was talking with someone a while back about sci-fi and they mentioned a story in a post-apocalyptic setting, only instead of the apocalypse being zombies or robot-overlords or nuclear war or alien invasion or disease or global-warming or world-government-forced-mass-sterilization or something, it was the singularity -- most people had uploaded. And the remaining world for the luddites that stayed behind was not horrific, just lonely. I don't recall the author or even whether he said it was a novel or short story. Anyone know what it is?

I remember that Vinge's Marooned in Realtime had a hint of this but I'm sure that is not what this guy was talking about as this was definitely set in the near-ish future.

Yes, this may slightly overlap with Terminator/Matrix robot overlord territory, but absolutely not the same -- this singularity basically subtracted human and computer presence from the world, leaving behind an old west style remnant of society. OK, at least as far as I understood from a two minute conversation with a stranger.

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    Sounds a bit like a little-known indie movie from the late 90s called The Matrix. It's pretty obscure though, probably not even worth Googling. – Paul D. Waite Jul 17 '13 at 15:22
  • Ha! Good one, no definitely not that. – zipquincy Jul 17 '13 at 15:27
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    Any chance it might have been Greg Bear's Blood Music? Most humans are reduced to "grey goo" via nanotechnology and eventually cause a "rip" in spacetime - a "singularity" in multiple senses of the word :-) – Benny Hill Jul 17 '13 at 16:53
  • Nope, I know and love Blood Music! – zipquincy Jul 17 '13 at 16:59
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It might also be the novel "The Rapture of the Nerds" by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross -- at least, it's a novel in the near (+80-100 years) future in which much of humanity has uploaded into an AI singularity.

Many of the remaining "meatspace" humans are Luddites or considered as such, including the protagonist. Meatspace Earth isn't exactly the Old West, though, nor could it be described as "horrific" (with one possible exception).

  • That sounds a lot more likely than my answer, actually. – Tacroy Jul 17 '13 at 19:25
  • Stross has actually explored stuff like this in a lot of his work; maybe the Eschaton series? – TML Jul 17 '13 at 19:56
  • I was thinking Stross too but Accelerando which does get pretty lonely for the protagonist and the world does get depopulated and weird without being too awful. – Ash Aug 3 '17 at 12:45
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He may have been referring to Singularity's Ring, a novel with the same basic plot outline with regards to the Singularity.

The only major plot point you're missing is that in Singularity's Ring, the remaining humans have genetically engineered themselves to work in "pods" - two or three classical humans form one "person". This point isn't pushed very heavily at first, though, so I can see how he might have skipped over it for the sake of a short conversation.

  • I suppose that could be it... seems like Pods and the giant space station would have been details worth mentioning... But actually the topic of our conversation was the singularity so maybe he skipped it. Is this book worth reading? – zipquincy Jul 17 '13 at 16:34
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    @zipquincy Yep, it's pretty good. The "pods" thing is very lightly done, so it's not as jarring as you might think. – Tacroy Jul 17 '13 at 16:42
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Might be Dennis Danver's "Circuit of Heaven"

"Nemo's mother and father left him behind to enter "the Bin"--joining twelve billion uploaded personalities who live in crime-free, disease-free and deathless virtual societies.

Nemo has come of age on a dangerous, near-deserted planet populated by a handful of stragglers: religious fundamentalists and rebels, the creeps and the crazies.Now he is twenty-one. And on a rare, reluctant visit to the parints who abondoned flesh and son for cyber-utopia, Nemo has met the perfect woman: a new Bin arrival named Justine, a beautiful pop singer sho dreams other people's dreams in the virual night.

Now an inconvenient attraction is leading two lovers into a perilous mire of irreversible choice. For Justine has no body to return to. And Nemo the renegade has sworn never to sacrifice his own; to live, age, and die instead in a bleak erthly hell. Because, as an outsider, he may enter the Bin for short periods of time. But if he ever decides to stay...there will be no way out again."

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I'm quite sure this isn't correct, but that summary sounds like the setting for one of the Pendragon books, by DJ MacHale. Specifically, The Reality Bug. Inhabitants of this super technological world reside within VR hives, living perfect virtual lives, cared for by a small group of others. Main plot is that evil guy wants to take advantage of this to bring about chaos on this world, and protagonist(s) are trying to stop him by making people wake up and leave the VR. Excellent series in all, though the books lost my interest around #7.

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