So, one of the things I've been up to in this long silence since posting regularly is getting caught up on my Vernor Vinge reading. I first got started reading Vinge a couple years back, picking up A Deepness in the Sky whilst traveling through Union Station. I fell in love with Deepness and kept meaning to read some of his other work, but found it oddly difficult to locate it in the local bookstores. At the beginning of the summer I picked up copies of Marooned in Realtime and A Fire Upon the Deep from Amazon. Marooned reminds me a lot of G.R.R. Martin's Dying of the Light (which I very highly recommend). I'm still reading through Fire, which has a lot of what I loved about Deepness: namely detailed consideration of the cognitive nature of alien life, especially the effects of alien bodies on cognition, as opposed to the "everyone's human(oid)" perspective familiar from Star Trek and most SF.
For those unfamiliar with Vinge, one of the major themes in his works is the idea of the Singularity. Much of this was novel when he was first writing about it, though it's a mainstream idea these days. There's been a lot of discussion on the technical, technological, and philosophical considerations behind Singularities; just google for transhumanism and you'll run into it. However, I just ran across a post by Elizabeth Bear which comes at it from, IMO, a more interesting direction: namely, analyzing the Singularity as an artistic movement in literature and analyzing it through the lens of critical theory, feminism, etc. I definitely believe that SF is, and has always been, a tool for exploring the current world around us and especially for trying to interpret the effects that current technologies have on social life; but the problems we're working out are not always obvious at the time. Perhaps the Singularity is now old enough that we can start to untangle all the concerns it was invented to address. Bear's posts (both the one I linked to, and the 2006 post cited therein) are a good start in that direction.