I just finished reading Zendegi by Greg Egan.
Zendegi is a very believable near term future novel. It spans 2012 to 2030 or so and covers the rise of intelligent software based on scans of human brains. Much of it is set in the online virtual gaming environment, Zendegi, which drives the development of intelligent software. Quite plausible, and really gives you something to think about in terms of the transition of clever software to possibly sentient software. Having a gaming environment drive the requirement is pretty obvious as gaming has been a major driving force in software and required hardware since inception.
Much less of the hard core physics from Egan in this book, and generally it is much more accessible. It is also quite interesting from a current events view as well as it is mostly set in Iran, and covers changes in Iran and its politics over the period.
Very interesting, but ends a bit flat, although full of possibility.