Incandescence

By: Greg Egan
Narrated by: Paul Boehmer
Length: 11 hrs and 7 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (109 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Hugo Award-winning author Egan returns to the field with Incandescence, a 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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What listeners say about Incandescence

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Incandescence – Science / fiction

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 insect-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.

15 people found this helpful

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Read it instead

Is there anything you would change about this book?

This is a book I would read instead but have not yet. I like Greg Egan, he's one of my top authors. But this book borrowed much from physics and needed diagrams. I couldn't think or follow at the speed of an audio book narrator. I imagine if I had book in hand, I would read certain parts numerous times in order to "get it".

Not the narrators fault, the book merely doesn't lend itself to the audible medium.

3 people found this helpful

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Two hard SF tales of outer & inner space

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.

3 people found this helpful

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Physics ahoy

If you are desperately uninterested in orbital mechanics, you may want to skip this one. Otherwise, and in other ways, it's a pretty gripping read. Ends a bit abruptly, though.

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My personal recommendation is to avoid this

What would have made Incandescence better?

I am a very mathematically and scientific savvy person, and i LOVE hard Scifi... this book was to much, I wanted to like it .. and it was sooo painful to finish I kept watching the countdown timer hoping it would get better in the last 4 hours ... it didnt.. Read the other reviews before you buy it

3 people found this helpful

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Like a long, dull, intro physics lab

I'm a huge fan of hard science fiction. I love when we get into the details of the science, it makes it feel more real for me. this was just too much. this author clearly read something about orbital dynamics and spent hour after hour describing how the characters rediscovered those basic physics using simple machines. this was not science fiction, this was a torture to make us all relive freshman physics labs. you didn't feel with their thrill of discovery, you felt overwhelmed with mathematics in just slightly strange enough terms to make it incomprehensible. it's a shame, because the narrator makes a heroic effort. The story just never manages to have a compelling character with growth and drive. The "human" characters are are one-dimensional and verge on nihilistic. The alien perspective characters come across not as an intriguing civilization that reflects back on our own, but near automatons reciting the details of boring experiments. all of the elements for a good story were there, but they were squandered. I highly recommend "a fire upon the deep" by V. Vinge who manages to tell a story from the perspective of aliens that feels truly alien yet reflects back upon our own society and a compelling way.

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Egan got me again

I really enjoy hard sci fi, so i will probably continue to listen to Egan. The way he got me again is he doesn't resolve the plot, in this or in schilds ladder. I think he brings his ideas to the page and tries to wrap them in a story, but in his mind the story is secondary to the concepts being explored. After a point he just stops writing with a, "Plot be damned, I'm done" attitude, it's very odd and leaves one unsatisfied with his book. He really needs an editor to say, "Hey don't you think the two separate groups you have been juxtaposing this whole time should meet and have a conflict and plot resolution, you kinda left that out." Greg I know you hate this but please google "tying up loose ends" it's the difference between an ok story and a great story.

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Another great piece by Greg Egan

If you want some sci-fi with heavy emphasis on scientific aspect - look no further.

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Good narrative boring book

Should have trusted the other reviews. It's not that this is a bad book but it is Boring with a capital B. No real action just and poor description of applying math concepts from Kepler to Newton.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mk
  • 01-21-15

A recent fave

What a great story! This narration carries the invented terminology nicely, minimizing the confusion I think I could have experienced.