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Schild's Ladder (2001)
by Greg Egan
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 006107344X, Paperback)Greg Egan became the hottest new science-fiction author of the 1990s and won the Hugo and John W. Campbell Memorial awards by extrapolating cutting-edge quantum physics and consciousness theory to create rigorous and radical new visions of the posthuman future. Schild's Ladder affirms Mr. Egan's place, with Olaf Stapledon and Poul Anderson, among the giants of cosmic-scale SF.
In Schild's Ladder, 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. --Cynthia Ward
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:34 -0400)
"For twenty thousand years, every observable phenomenon in the universe has been successfully explained by the Sarumpaet Rules." "Now Cass has stumbled on a set of quantum graphs that might comprise the fundamental particles of an entirely different kind of physics, and she has travelled three hundred and seventy light-years to Mimosa Station, a remote experimental facility, in the hope of bringing this tantalising alternative to life. The 'novo-vacuum' is predicted to begin decaying the instant it's created, but even a short-lived, microscopic speck could shed light on the origins of the universe." "Cass's experiment turns out to be wildly successful: the novo-vacuum is more stable than the ordinary vacuum around it, and a region on which the new physics holds sway proceeds to expand out from Mimosa at half the speed of light." "Six hundred years later, more than two thousand inhabited systems have been lost to the novo-vacuum. On board the Rindler, people have come from throughout inhabited space to study the phenomenon. Most are Preservationists, hunting for a way to turn back the tide, but a few belong to another faction, the Yielders, who believe that the challenge of adapting to survive on the far side of the border would reinvigorate a civilisation that has grown stale and insular." "Tchicaya has come to the Rindler as a Yielder, but when Mariama, a childhood friend who inspired him to abandon his own home world and traditions for a life of travel, arrives soon after, he is shocked to discover that she wants to destroy the novo-vacuum." "As a theoretical breakthrough reveals the true richness of the world behind the border, tensions between the opposing factions grow. Then a splinter group responds with violent, unilateral action, and Tchicaya and Mariama are forced into an uneasy alliance, travelling together through the border, balancing old and new loyalties against the fate of two incomparably different universes."--BOOK JACKET.
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