Friday, May 28, 2010

Greg Egan - Don D'Ammassa

From the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction he edited :

"The Australian writer Greg Egan began his career with a surrealistic fantasy novel in 1982, but soon turned to science fiction. A steady stream of respectable stories appeared during the 1980s and early 1990s, and he twice won awards in his native Australia although he had not yet established a significant presence elsewhere. Quarantine (1992), his first SF novel, was impressive not so much for its plot as for its execution. Aliens have cut off human access to the stars, and the human race, turning inward, is plagued by violence and religious excesses.
Egan's second novel, Permutation City (1995), would make an even stronger statement. A kind of immortality has been achieved by copying individual personalities into a vast computer network, where they can live on in a shared virtual reality. Eventually some of those artificial personalities despair of their confined existence and seek to terminate themselves; but they are opposed by their originals, who see the recorded version of themselves as their only way to cheat death. Egan handled the theme intelligently and thoughtfully, and Permutation City is an intriguing and perhaps underrated novel.
Distress (1995) was an uneven thriller involving a new drug and a conference of scientific philosophers. It includes some wonderfully inventive speculation, but the plot is unevenly paced. With Diaspora (1997), Egan took up a theme similar to that of Permutation City. Humans have begun exploring the universe by creating various types of robots and computers equipped with minds of their own, and as these diverging forms of humanity propagate, they encounter an alien race whose existence triggers a major crisis. Egan's output of short stories slowed but did not stop as he turned to novels; indeed, the short stories became steadily better. ``The Mitochondrial Eve,'' ``Our Lady of Chernobyl,'' and ``Transition Dreams'' attracted considerable favorable atten­tion. His next novel, Teranesia (1999), was less successful, although the biological oddities of the setting, a remote island evolutionarily isolated from the rest of the world, similar to the Gal├ípagos, are interesting. Schildt's Ladder (2002) is an ambitious space opera, similarly uneven, mixing imaginative scenes with routine melodrama. The best of Egan's short fiction can be found in Axiomatic (1995) and Luminous (1998)."

3.5 out of 5

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