In a message dated 3/2/99 4:39:23 PM Central Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
> I think this whole setting is just a convenient set of excuses to allow him
> to have human characters in a far-future setting.
I haven't read this book (yet)...but I did read his short story which started it all. (The Jabber?)...in the author's notes to that story he said exactly that.
That is...given the way that technology was advancing it was impossible to place any story more than just a few years in the future and expect it to be anywhere near beleivable. Because of this he invented the "slowness" as a plot device to plausibly slow technological advancement.