cover image Phoresis


Greg Egan. Subterranean, $40 (168p) ISBN 978-1-59606-866-7

Egan’s gripping and surprisingly accessible short novel centers on the weird but consistent and intriguing science that has become his hallmark. The planet Tvíbura is locked in an orbit with its uninhabited sister planet, Tvíburi. Tvíbura relies on gravity-driven geysers to help yggdrasils, plants that provide fertile soil and vital chemicals for the air, send their roots up through the ice and to the surface, sometimes with the aid of the sentient female inhabitants (who carry their parasitic male siblings around inside them). New geysers and roots are becoming fewer, however, and many of the inhabitants of Tvíbura are concerned that their planet cannot continue to sustain life. Over the course of multiple generations, groups attempt to trigger new geysers and create a bridge that will allow them to visit and colonize Tvíburi. Egan’s novel is broken into two smaller works with one even smaller epilogue, exploring the planet’s challenges largely through two heroines, Freya and Rosalind, whose willingness to sacrifice and ability to think about their world’s future serve them well. Though short, this science-driven tale has an epic feel; it’s a perfect starting point for readers who have found Egan’s other work impenetrable. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary. (May)