cover image Dichronauts


Greg Egan. Night Shade, $26.99 (312p) ISBN 978-1-59780-892-7

Egan’s latest work of experimental science fiction (after the Orthogonal trilogy) is impressively bizarre. He takes some of the physics concepts explored in Christopher Priest’s The Inverted World and turns them up to 11, imagining a universe in which there are two dimensions each of time and space. Gravity works in wholly unfamiliar ways. Some people, called walkers, are born only able to look east and (if they bend backwards) west, but not north and south; they have a symbiotic relationship with siders, who live in walkers’ brains and can look north and south and relay what they detect. Seth is a walker who shares his brain with Theo, a sider. The two of them work as surveyors, searching for the properly habitable zones into which their city, Baharabad, can be moved as its current zone becomes inhabitable due to the planet’s rotation. (Baharabad is in constant motion, its forward edge being extended as its back edge is destroyed.) Egan provides copious and necessary papers on the math and physics of world (there’s less information on the staggeringly weird biology), but even with that help, much of the science will make the plotting borderline impenetrable for anyone not already immersed in the concepts. Nonphysicists hoping to stay afloat by clinging to the plot will find there’s little of it to hold onto. Egan may have out-Eganed himself with this one. [em]Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Chichak Galen Literary. (July) [/em]