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am 3. Dezember 1999
From the opening "revival" scene that I had to read three times to the final page, Distress was a great read. I really enjoyed his play with gender--ve and ver, for example, were intriguing. The Theory of Everything was scientific enough to be credible, but written such that even a non-science reader could appreciate it. And the concept of "Stateless" was great. This is science fiction as it is meant to be: plausible, but pushing the envelope.
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am 5. Juli 1999
In "Distress", Greg Egan has provided a thought-provoking vision of the future, and a chilling view of the essence of reality. He creates a world filled with biotechnology wonders, and has created a place, "Stateless", based on these wonders. He then takes this world and weaves in a plot that dives into a stark philosophy of existence. His view point is that man can assume he is no more than matter and information. But Egan does not despair at that view, but rather uses his two main characters, Violet Mosala and Andrew Worth, to show its power. As Mosala, the physicist, finishes a Theory of Everything, Worth takes his experiences in the book to reconcile the implications of the theory. Alone, the TEO would reverberate through time causing a fatal illness "Distress", but Worth solves that dilemma, and opens a new perspective for mankind.
But don't think you can read this book casually (I made that mistake). The physics is unforgiving (brush up on the integration of the forces of nature, and on the latest theories of space as a dance of virtual particles). And bring a magic marker. The first time you hit a new name, or ANY time there is a reference to one of a myriad of anti- or pro-science groups, highlight it. That will allow you to go back and understand how the actions of that person or group from two hundred pages back, motivate what is happening where you are reading.
This type of book demonstrates that the fiction novel market should break convention and include (heresy here) indexes and tables in books to help the reader. It is this problem of complex and distance references, plus some dangling plot threads, that keep me from rating this higher.
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am 10. August 1999
Epistemology and TOE metaphysics stretched together in the best work of fiction I have ever read on the subjects. The rationals are top notch as are allways with Egan, embroidering here his most ambitious and compelling work to date. One of the very few writers in the same intelectual league with Stanislaw Lem.
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am 29. Juli 2000
Greg Egan's "Distress" is a most unusual work of science fiction. Most of the story takes place on Earth in the middle of the next century, but on an artificially created island called "Stateless" that is diplomatically shunned by most of the rest of the world because of how it was created. On the island, a convention is gathering to decide on the new "Theory of Everything" which is supposed to be as revolutionary as the Theory of Relativity. Lurking in the background is a new psychological malady named Distress, which is somehow linked to these events. Egan is a good storyteller and "Distress," like most of the best science fiction, is brimming with unusual ideas.
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am 9. März 1999
I am not a regular reader of much speculative fiction, however Egan's work (which I picked up basically on a whim) may change that. I found Distress to be challenging and mentally invigoration especially after the great deal of sludge I've forced my way through when I've given SF a try previously. I don't know if I completely agree with or even fully understand the metaphysics Egan appears to be endorsing at the end of the story, I'd be interested in hearing his comments on the work. If the book has any imperfections, it's that the characters are a bit under-developed, but that certainly didn't stop me from recommending it to my friends or to whoever's reading this right now.
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am 25. Juni 1999
The exposition blew my mind more than anything I've read in a long time - it's soemthing you have to read. Beyond that it's a question of wether you like cyberpunk or not - for cyberpunk it is. There's original ideas aplenty and, other than with all the Gibson novels I've read, the plot is paced well till the end of the book. Great literature this is not, but good entertainment and terrific food for the mind - and the combination alone makes it worth reading.
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am 17. Dezember 1998
This conclusion to the cycle of Permutation City and Quarantine is as good as the first to. The satisfaction of reading one of Egan's books is incredible and this story is recomended to anyone who wants to strech their mind.
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am 6. März 1999
This book seems to advocate the idea that life is inherently meaningless. This may be true, but most existentialists believe in giving artificial meanings to life. I would rather believe in those "unreal" meanings then give in to the more "realistic" despair. Hope may have no inherent meaning, but it is necessary. The main character in this uses reason so much it controls him. I believe reason should be a tool not a slavemaster.
Maybe I missed the books point, but that's what I got out of it. It should be read by all religious existentialists so they can laugh at it.
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am 27. Juni 1998
This is one of those books that tells me how stupid & delusional I am & I'm sick of it. I've liked some of egan's stories in Asimov's, Axiomatic, & elsewhere, but I'll never buy another of his books again. I've liked atheist authors ,Asimov's my favorite author, but some are aware of a little thing called tact. I didn't give it a lower rating because the snide atheist school of sci-fi is quite popular.
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am 26. März 1999
Stereotypes abound in this inane novel that dares call itself SCIENCE fiction. So, I suppose those that don't endorse the Big Bang and the 'uselessness' of intimacy are all bible-thumping lunatics? Just because I don't quite agree with the pseudoscientific opinions expressed by the author and his characters I'm a regular religious hypocrite?
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