cover image The Arrows of Time: Orthogonal, Book 3

The Arrows of Time: Orthogonal, Book 3

Greg Egan. Skyhorse/Night Shade, $26.99 (364p) ISBN 978-1-59780-487-5

The conclusion to Egan’s trilogy, which follows 2012’s The Eternal Flame, is at least as opaque as its confusing predecessors, and appealing only to readers who have managed to wrap their minds around the world building from them. This volume could not be more user- unfriendly for first-timers. Egan buries the series’ underlying concept in an afterword; the prose is so dense (“Perhaps a physicist will find a way to transform our positive luxagens into negative ones”), and the hard science so hard, that very few will comprehend either. Apart from the complex physics, the trilogy’s plot is not unfamiliar: it is the tale of a desperate attempt to save a world from a cosmic menace, here meteors known as the Hurtlers, by traveling forward in time to benefit from future scientific advances. The debate over the right survival strategy never grips the reader because Egan fails to render his imagined science intelligible—the frequent graphs and charts only make things worse. (Aug.)