Schild's ladder

Greg Egan, 1961-

Book - 2002

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SCIENCE FICTION/Egan, Greg
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Subjects
Published
New York : EOS 2002.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Physical Description
342 p.
ISBN
0061050938
Main Author
Greg Egan, 1961- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Some 23 centuries from now, the laws of quantum physics are pretty much settled, but one researcher bends time and space in a blindingly quick experiment. She inadvertently creates a "nono-vacuum" that expands at half the speed of light, eating up the familiar vacuum of space. Over several thousand years, humanity leapfrogs from planet to planet in order to survive. Meanwhile, parked in a ship just ahead of the nono-vacuum, two contingents of scientists poke at the nono-vacuum's border and field a hypothesis: the unknown universe may be as complex as the known. But is it breachable? Tchicaya--the hero, if this tale could be said to have characters at all--postulates Schild's Ladder, a geometric theory that suggests it is. Thereafter, he finds the marooned researcher who unraveled the universe in the first place--and a great deal more. Very much in the manner of Hal Clement, Egan writes rather forbidding novels, always grounded in real science and imbued with serious scientific speculations. This is his most uncompromising book to date. ((Reviewed April 15, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

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.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Twenty-thousand years in the future, a dangerous experiment in quantum physics creates an expanding vacuum in space that threatens to wipe out all humanity.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Twenty-thousand years in the future, a dangerous experiment in quantum physics creates an expanding vacuum in space that threatens to wipe out all humanity. By the author of Teransia.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The Age of Death ended countless millennia ago. No longer burdened by limited lifespans, the immortal humans who populate inhabited space now have the luxury to travel vast distances effortlessly and to tinker with the intricate mechanics of spacetime. But one such experiment in quantum physics has had a catastrophic and unanticipated result, creating an enormous, rapidly expanding vacuum - a region of new physics - with the frightening potential to devour countless inhabited solar systems.Tchicaya abandoned his homeworld four thousand years ago to travel the universe, freely choosing, as have others of his bent, to endure the hardships of distance and loneliness for the sake of knowledge and experience. Aboard the Rindler, a starship trawling the border of the all-consuming novo-vacuum, he feels his endless life has new purpose. For the Rindler is the center for scientific study of the phenomenon - a common ground for Preservationists and Yielders alike, those working to halt and destroy the encroaching worlds-eater ... and those determined to investigate its marvels while allowing its growth to continue unchecked. Tchicaya has allied himself firmly with the latter camp.But everything onboard the Rindler - and, ultimately, in the inhabited universe itself - is on the cusp of further cataclysmic change, as the Yielders' explorations threaten to transform discord into violent action and potential xenocide. For new evidence suggests that something unthinkable is developing at an astounding rate deep within the mysterious, 600-light-years-wide void - something neither Tchicaya and his compatriots could ever have imagined possible: life.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

The Age of Death ended countless millennia ago. No longer burdened by limited lifespans, the immortal humans who populate inhabited space now have the luxury to travel vast distances effortlessly and to tinker with the intricate mechanics of spacetime. But one such experiment in quantum physics has had a catastrophic and unanticipated result, creating an enormous, rapidly expanding vacuum -- a region of new physics -- with the frightening potential to devour countless inhabited solar systems.Tchicaya abandoned his homeworld four thousand years ago to travel the universe, freely choosing, as have others of his bent, to endure the hardships of distance and loneliness for the sake of knowledge and experience. Aboard the Rindler, a starship trawling the border of the allconsuming novo-vacuum, he feels his endless life has new purpose. For the Rindler is the center for the scientific study the phenomenon -- a common ground for Preservationists and Yielders alike, those working to halt and destroy the encroaching worlds-eater ... and those determinedto investigate its marvels while allowing its growth to continue unchecked. Tchicaya has allied himself firmly with the latter camp.The passing decades -- and inevitable expansion of the void -- widen the great rift between the two factions, intensifying what was once simply ideological differences into something more angry, explosive, and dangerous. And the arrival of Tchicaya's fiery first love, Mariama, and her immediate embracing of the Preservationist cause, intensifies an inner turmoil he has been struggling with since his distant childhood.But everything onboard the Rindler -- and, ultimately, in the inhabited universe itself-is on the cusp of further cataclysmic change, as the Yielders' explorations threaten to transform discord into violent action and potential xenocide. For new evidence suggests that something unthinkable is developing at an astounding rate deep within the mysterious, 600-light-years-wide void -- something neither Tchicaya and his compatriots nor Mariama and hers could ever have imagined possible: life.