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Incandescence by Greg Egan
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Incandescence (2008)

by Greg Egan

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3971639,916 (3.53)14
  1. 00
    Timescape by Gregory Benford (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Both these novels use twin themes to explore the use of science in understanding and changing the world
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» See also 14 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I loved this. The process of scientific discovery in a repressive society was gripping and Roi had real charm.

If only more people liked a challenge in their reading. Authors like Mr Egan deserve more support. ( )
  hatpin | Jun 17, 2018 |
3.5 stars, rounded up. Not Egan's best or worst work, and a curious blend of several styles in some of this others. If you like his other stuff, give it a shot.

If you're going to read a review then you can't do better than this scathing review and Egan's response. If you find yourself agreeing with one or the other, that's a pretty good clue as to whether you'll like the book. To put it briefly, your enthusiasm for this book is probably commensurate with your enthusiasm for working out concepts on pen and paper while you read.

Now for some recommendations. If you liked the "Primitive civilization working out interesting physical laws," then I highly recommend Egan's Orthogonal series. If you liked the "Far future civilization investigates various mysteries," then Egan's Diaspora is a good choice. ( )
  dwkenefick | Apr 20, 2017 |
Science fiction scrupulously adhering to solid scientific speculation and with a plot largely concerned with the development of scientific knowledge. There's a dramatic story, but since most of the characters are virtually-reconstituted post-humans or completely alien aliens, it might leave some readers flat. The drama that is there emerges from the characters in one narrative thread needing to understand the nature of their part of the universe -- the relativity-distorted orbit of a neutron star not far from a giant black hole -- in order to survive. The other plot thread is a scientific detective story about the post-humans trying to discover the fate of a destroyed planet of aliens based on a few clues given to them in an ancient meteor (by an even more mysterious third-party civilization of reclusive aliens).

Caveat: Incandescence is not a summer beach read. Readers who don't know or care anything about the basic ideas of Newtonian ("Zak," indeed) or relativistic time, motion, and gravity would probably give this book 1 or 2 stars. I sort of enjoyed the dramatic irony of (in broad terms) knowing what the Splinter folks were discovering as they were discovering it. There are also a couple fairly subtle clues as to the connection between the Splinters in the two plot threads and the Aloof, which would be easy to miss if you are speed-reading for plot and not paying attention. ( )
  ronhenry | Nov 17, 2015 |
The POV’s of the two alternating narratives that comprise this novel are so wildly different in style, that it feels like two separate authors are at work. One follows a restless citizen of a far future galactic civilization on a quest to discover something, anything, new and mysterious in the aseptically tame society he inhabits. The other narrative observes an alien species in an environment wildly different than our own discovering fundamental physics on their own terms under the threat of environmental disaster. Of the two, I must say I preferred the space opera former to the ‘rock opera’ latter because it offered a broader cosmic scope in dimension and more wonder. As others have noted, the alien (‘ark dweller’) storyline is incredibly thick with mathematical exposition. None of it was deep enough to completely suffocate me, but it did begin to feel like an algebraic overdose sometime in the first half of the book with the majority of it still to come. Hand in hand with the descriptions of ratios of weight measurements to angles in space-time, however, is a truly engaging story with high stakes drama and interesting alien biology and thought modes. It just wasn’t as thought-provoking for me as Rakesh the post-human’s star system-hopping and at-will body redesigning pursuit. In this half of the book, Egan’s hard SF soars like the space opera I expected, filled with concepts like mind uploads transmitted between stars to be reassembled by nano-machine, and lifetimes spent shifting between digital environments and corporeal ones over the course of millennia. ( )
  SciFi-Kindle | Apr 23, 2014 |
This book was very, very difficult for anybody other than a scientist or mathematician to read. I persisted, however, because despite all the jargon, the basic plot was quite interesting. I don't know why I bothered. The book had two separate story-lines, giving the impression that these would eventually come together. This did not happen. The two stories were not properly combined, leaving the reader with the sense that the book just ended suddenly, as though the author just ran out of words. This would be disappointing at any time, but after wading through all the maths and science to get to this point, I feel as though I wasted my time. The first set of characters came into contact with a world like that on which the second set reside, but we are left wondering if this is a similar world, the same world in the past or the same world in the future. This book just wasn't worth the effort. ( )
  seldombites | Mar 16, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Although occasionally uneven and frustrating, the book is a terrifically interesting thought experiment that will appeal to anyone who likes a strong, intelligent science mystery. And Egan's civilization-building is simply breathtaking. His deft creation of an alien civilization of tiny insects living in orbit around a neutron star at the center of the galaxy provides such an appealing narrative throughline that you won't be able to put Incandescence down until its extremely weird conclusion.
added by PhoenixTerran | editio9, Annalee Newitz (Mar 3, 2009)
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Greg Eganprimary authorall editionscalculated
Shin, YamagishiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"The Amalgam spans the nearly entire galaxy, and is composed of innumerable beings from a wild variety of races, some human or near it, 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. Roi is a member of that lost race, which is not only lost to the Amalgam, but lost to itself. In their world, there is but toil, and history and science are luxuries that they can ill afford. When she meets Zak, the male who will become her teacher and mentor, everything starts to change. Their strange world is under threat, and it will take an unprecedented flowering of science to save it. Rakesh's journey will take him across millennia and light years. Roi's will take her across vistas of learning and discovery just as vast"--Dust jacket.… (more)

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