The long-awaited new audiobook from Greg Egan! Hugo Award-winning author Egan returns to the field with Incandescence, a new novel of hard SF. The Amalgam spans nearly the 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. 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.
©2013 Greg Egan (P)2014 Audible Inc.
"The driving forces of this novel are a pure scientific puzzle and the intellectual joy of finding answers.... Those who like their science hard will appreciate his thorough research and intricate speculations." (Booklist)
I read, I write; I listen
This is hard core science fiction with the science part underlined. There were times during the story when I felt I was in an advanced Physics class listening to a lecture on Orbital Mechanics; but the overall experience was entertaining and should excite the hardcore science fiction fan.
Set in the far distant future where DNA based life forms (humans) have advanced and can now freely travel across the known universe with the exception of its galactic core which is inhabited by a species that prefer isolation and are appropriately called the “Aloof,” the story is separated into two separate plot lines which are told alternately throughout the book. In our first plot line DNA is discovered in part of the Universe controlled by the Aloof and it sends a couple to seek out its source. We learn about an inspect-like species that are trying to come to grips with their relativity in the second. These two plot lines seem destined to come together in the end, but they never really do.
Overall I found Greg Egan’s descriptions of a galaxy-spanning, post human civilization fascinating and the narrator, Paul Boehmer, gives a good performance.
It was like sitting in a high school physics class with a teacher that was kind of "out there." If you like an author to explain scientifically why his ideas would work in an unlikely setting, then he does a pretty good job. Unfortunately, there's not much interest in the story itself, at least for me.
I went to "Operation Oracle," which was much more fun to listen to. I think I've had too much study recently to enjoy the intensity of background needed to like Incandescence.
Did his best?
Seriously, with what he had to work with, he did well.
A stretching of the imagination for some, and some originality. It was well written for what he was conveying, but he made the physics course the primary, when I think it should have been secondary, realizing of course he is published, and I just listen to or read books.
I'm a Hard SF & Space Opera-loving, alien android from the future. I bring gifts of SciFi eBooks & accessories for your leader's Kindle. Take me to him/her/it.
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.
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