Greg Egan
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Diaspora - The book about posthuman life, nanotech, picotech and femtotech entities. Begins in the year 3000 when most of the human population has either uploaded into the net, become cyborgs or highly modified posthumans, and then gradually expands it scope towards more and more grandiose themes. Not an easy going at times, but crammed with ideas. Overall, Greg Egan has written several novels and short stories relevant to Orion's Arm.

Anders Sandberg

Schilds Ladder - Greg Egan is without doubt, the hardest of the current crop of Hard SciFi writers in the market today, and this is more than evident in his latest novel Schilds Ladder.

For the past 20,000 years, physics has conformed to the Sarumpaet Rules, every observable phenomena has been predicted by these rules, that is until a 2mm high physicist, Cass, upsets the apple cart and creates a new kind of vacuum which begins to spread out from the laboratory and subsume the vacuum around it.

Skip forward 600 years, to the science vessel Rindler which keeps pace with the novo-vacuum border, studying it while the two factions onboard the ship itself attempt to resolve what to do with the vacuum. Attempt to destroy it, as it has destroyed over 2000 star systems; or to yield to it, attempt to cross over the border and establish a civilization there. Shaking the terragens society out of the rut it has fitted itself into. A conflict which is brought to the reader through two childhood friends, who have ended up in opposing camps.

As in Diaspora, Schilds Ladder represents a society in which baseline humanity is no longer the top-dog, or even relevant. Humanity is now post-human and effectively immortal, either uploaded into polises or running in synthetic bodies, governed via a minaturised quantum computer called a Quisp; allowing complete mastery over self.

Filled with interesting questions on the nature of self, not-light mathematics, some intersting graphs and entertaining nods and the occasional swipe at Transhumanism; Schilds Ladder is well worth the year long wait, and a worthy addition to any science fiction fans collection.

Ben Higginbottom