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Schild's Ladder


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About the Author

Greg Egan lives in Perth, Western Australia. He has won the John W. Campbell award for Best Novel and has been short listed for the Hugo three times.


About 20,000 years into the future, an evolved human race has mastered the secret of effortless space travel only to discover no other intelligent life in the galaxy. When an experiment in quantum physics creates a mysterious vacuum that quickly begins expanding, threatening everything in its path, rival factions pursue opposing tactics. One group wishes to destroy the threat, while the other group desires to explore the phenomenon, which seems to be creating new life forms. Sf veteran Egan (Terenesia) focuses on the wonders of quantum physics, bringing a complex topic to life in a story of risk and dedication at the far end of time and space. A good choice for libraries with a demand for science-heavy sf adventure. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Australian Egan (Teranesia) writes some of the hardest SF around in terms both of difficulty and cutting-edge scientific content, as shown in his latest challenging novel, set some 20,000 years in the future. Though superhuman by our standards, Egan's characters often disembodied intelligences who prefer to live as programs in virtual reality or in still stranger, high-tech media are still capable of making mistakes. At the start, an experiment in quantum physics goes badly astray, creating another universe with physical laws that differ from our own. Its border expanding at half the speed of light, this new universe swallows planetary systems whole. Fortunately, humanity is so highly developed that entire populations can be quickly evacuated with little if any loss of life. Soon the scientific community divides into two groups, those who would destroy the new universe, and those who would study it. The debate becomes even more tense when evidence of life is found behind the rapidly expanding border. Characters invariably speak the language of quantum physics fluently, and the author makes little effort to bring their discussion down to the layman's level. Not until the end, when scientists begin to explore the new universe, does Egan make any real attempt to engage the reader's senses or emotions. The pleasures of this impressive novel, although considerable, are almost entirely intellectual. (May 8) Forecast: Winner of a Hugo and a John W. Campbell award, Egan tried to counteract his reputation for leaving out emotion and sense impressions by developing appealing characters and place in his last novel, Teranesia. But his return to "coolness" may limit his appeal largely to quantum physicists who read SF. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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