Paul Durham keeps making Copies of himself: software simulations of his own brain and body which can be run in virtual reality, albeit seventeen times more slowly than real time. He wants them to be his guinea pigs for a set of experiments about the nature of artificial intelligence, time, and causality, but they keep changing their mind and baling out on him, shutting themselves down.
Maria Deluca is an Autoverse addict; she’s unemployed and running out of money, but she can’t stop wasting her time playing around with the cellular automaton known as the Autoverse, a virtual world that follows a simple set of mathematical rules as its “laws of physics”.
Paul makes Maria a very strange offer: he asks her to design a seed for an entire virtual biosphere able to exist inside the Autoverse, modelled right down to the molecular level. The job will pay well, and will allow her to indulge her obsession. There has to be a catch, though, because such a seed would be useless without a simulation of the Autoverse large enough to allow the resulting biosphere to grow and flourish—a feat far beyond the capacity of all the computers in the world.
After developing a lengthy exposé on “frankenscience,” SeeNet reporter Andrew Worth is burnt out. So burnt that he passes up a plum assignment covering the new disease “Distress.” Instead, he asks for a lower-key job profiling Violet Mosala, a scientist who earned a Nobel Prize at the age of 25 and who is about to announce her version of the Theory of Everything. The TOE is an attempt to explain how all scientific theories fit together, but it may actually be the catalyst that created the universe, making Violet the “Keystone” of the universe. So much for the quiet assignment…
About 60 years from now, SeeNet journalist and narrator Andrew Worth (he has a camera and computer software hardwired into his body) muscles in on a colleague’s assignment to cover a physics convention on the artificial coral island, Stateless, at which Nobel laureate Violet Mosala is expected to announce a watertight Theory of Everything (TOE). The event, however, is complicated by the presence of several noisy anti-science cult groups—among them the mysterious and secretive Anthrocosmologists who believe that whoever first formulates the TOE will become the Keystone in which the completed TOE, mingling information theory with particle physics, will actually change the structure of the universe. Andrew’s Anthrocosmology contact, Akili Kuwale, a “gender migrant” (s/he has no breasts or sexual organs), warns that a particularly violent, extreme faction intends to assassinate Violet to prevent the Aleph Moment when the completed TOE’s effects kick in. Soon, Andrew falls sick—the extremists have infected him, intending that he pass the virus on to Violet; she falls ill, but has arranged for supercomputers to complete her calculations and disseminate the results. As the extremists redouble their violent efforts, Stateless's former owners send mercenaries to recapture the island, while a sort of reverse echo of the Aleph Moment results in a wave of mass insanity, or Distress, whose victims apparently have all turned into Keystones! Challenging, well informed, and iconoclastic, but also abstruse and often heavy: admirable rather than enjoyable, but an impressive first hardcover nonetheless.
It causes riots and religions. It has people dancing in the streets and leaping off skyscrapers. And it’s all because of the impenetrable gray shield that slid into place around the solar system on the night of November 15, 2034.
Some see the bubble as the revenge of an insane God. Some see it as justice. Some even see it as protection. But one thing is for certain—now there is the universe, and the earth. And never the twain shall meet.
Or so it seems. Until a bio-enhanced PI named Nick Stavrianos takes on a job for an anonymous client: find a girl named Laura who disappeared from a mental institution by the most direct possible method—walking through the walls.
In , humanity has transcended both death and Earth, and discovered its home world is nearly unique as a cradle of life. As it spreads throughout the galaxy, humanity enjoys an almost utopian existence — until a scientist accidentally creates an impenetrable, steadily expanding vacuum that devours star systems and threatens the entire universe with destruction.
Tchicaya is a Yielder, member of the faction that believes this “novo-vacuum” deserves study. The opposing Preservationists — among them Mariama, his first love — seek to save worlds and destroy the novo-vacuum. Discord heats to terrorist violence; then enmities and alliances are turned upside-down by a discovery that may mean the novo-vacuum is, instead, a new and very different universe — and one which may contain life.
Greg Egan’s last three stories for “Cocoon” (May 1994); “Luminous” (September 1995); and “Tap” (November 1995), have all made the Hugo award’s final ballot. The paperback edition of Mr. Egan’s near-future novel, and the hard-cover edition of his far-future novel, have just been released by HarperPrism.
In a universe where the laws of physics and the speed of light are completely alien to our own, the travelers on the ship have completed a generations-long struggle to develop advanced technology in a desperate attempt to save their home world. But as tensions mount over the risks of turning the ship around and starting the long voyage home, a new complication arises: the prospect of constructing a messaging system that will give the news of its own future.
While some see this as a guarantee of safety and a chance to learn of their mission’s ultimate success, others are convinced that the knowledge will be oppressive or worse — that the system could be abused. The conflict over this proposed communication system tears the travelers’ society apart, culminating in terrible violence. To save the and its mission, two rivals must travel to a world where time runs in reverse.
Continuing in the tradition of and , Greg Egan’s Orthogonal trilogy has continuously pushed the boundaries of scientific fiction, without ever losing track of the lives of the individuals carrying out this grand mission. brings this fascinating space opera to a close while offering insight into human nature and the struggles we face, both as individuals and as a species.
Nine-year-old Prabir Suresh lives alone with his baby sister, Madhusree, and his biologist parents on a tropical Indonesian isle. Teranesia is so small and remote, it’s not on the maps, and its strange native species of butterfly remained undiscovered until the 21st century. Prabir never wants to leave, but war forces him to flee with Madhusree. He believes he has saved his sister-until she returns to Indonesia, a grad student seeking to carry on their parents’ forgotten work, pursuing reports of strange new plant and animal species. Prabir follows, to discover birds and orchids even stranger than the butterflies: mutants that are evidence of frightfully sped-up evolutionary changes with no discernable cause.
Greg Egan has received the Hugo Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He was widely considered the best SF author of the ’90s, and one publication (Science Fiction Weekly) has named him “perhaps the most important SF writer in the world”—high praise, but not unjustified. For evidence, check out not only Teranesia, but works like Diaspora, Distress, and Quarantine.
The long-awaited new novel from Hugo Award-winning writer Greg Egan! The Amalgam spans nearly the entire galaxy, and is composed of innumerable beings from a wild variety of races, some human, some near-human, and some entirely other. The one place that they cannot go is the bulge, the bright, hot center of the galaxy. There dwell the Aloof, who for millions of years have deflected any and all attempts to communicate with or visit them. So, when Rakesh is offered an opportunity to travel within their sphere, in search of a lost race, he cannot turn it down!
Nasim is a young computer scientist, hoping to work on the Human Connectome Project: a plan to map every neural connection in the human brain. But funding for the project is cancelled, and Nasim ends up devoting her career to Zendegi, a computerised virtual world used by millions of people. Fifteen years later, a revived Connectome Project has published a map of the brain. Zendegi is facing fierce competition from its rivals, and Nasim decides to exploit the map to fill the virtual world with better Proxies: the bit-players that bring its crowd scenes to life. As controversy rages over the nature and rights of the Proxies, a friend with terminal cancer begs Nasim to make a Proxy of him, so some part of him will survive to help raise his orphaned son. But Zendegi is about to become a battlefield…