If you haven’t read any Egan, you so should. He takes the wildest frontiers of today’s science and turns them into truly brainbending speculative fiction that continually challenges the reader’s ideas of both reality and humanity. He’s also a terrific sentence-by-sentence writer.Egan writes hard science fiction that is frequently based on mathematics, physics and computer science. For example, his short story "Wang's Carpets" involves the discovery of truly alien aliens that are living embodiments of Wang tiles.
Evans speculates that one reason Egan's writing doesn't enjoy more popularity is because his stories are actually too focused on complicated scientific ideas. It's hard to know how much of a role that has played in his writing career, but I do know it affected my interest in his novels. I've read a few of his short stories, including "Wang's Carpets" and "Border Guards", and enjoyed them, but I don't have a particular interest in quantum physics or mathematics, and his novels just didn't sound that appealing to me - at least not appealing enough to seek them out.
Now maybe I've been wrong - I really enjoyed Robert Charles Wilson's Spin, which seems to have some superficial similarities to Egan's Quarentine - and I'll probably give Egan's work a chance next time I run across it. But that points to another problem Evans points out: Egan's novels can be hard to find in bookstores and libraries. For example, the nearest library copy of his latest novel, Incandescance, is 60 miles away in the next county over. It's obviously not something I'd find by browsing the shelves.
It's nice, then, that a number of Egan's short works are available online. I've been downloading some of them for future reading, and discovered is that some of his stories are based on bioscience too. I haven't read them all so I don't really have anything to say about the actual science in them. All I can suggest is that you read them for yourselves. Here are a few links for your weekend reading pleasure:
- "The Moral Virologist" (1990)
- "The Vat: A Romantic Comedy" (1990)
- "The Demon's Passage" (1991)
- "The Extra" (1990)
- TAP (1995)
Tags:Greg Egan, biology