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May 16, 2005

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Gareth Wilson

"I don't think it's a coincidence that most of his fiction explores themes of eschatology and transcendence -- but without that nasty 'god' business -- or that it's been embraced by the "Rapture for Nerds" contingent of geekdom."

Have you read _Schild's Ladder_? There are a couple of rants in it about transcendence and the Nerd Rapture that are just as scathing as his anti-religion rants.

Carlos

It's always funny when sectarians fight.

Bernard Guerrero

The Baez stuff is interesting. And that heptagon-tiling of the hyperbolic plane is going to make a _nifty_ table-top.

James Nicoll

I don't recall ever asking for an SF author who would make Harry Harrison look evenhanded and fair by comparison and yet in Egan, I got one.

What I find hilarious is how little range of behavior his ticker-toy posthumans have. Very "after the revolution, you will have strawberries and like them!"

Mike Ralls

About a year ago I read Permutation City and wrote this in my notes;

307. "It's not just a matter of the Lambertians out-explaining us. The whole idea of a creator tears itself apart. A universe with conscious beings either finds itself in the dust . . . or it doesn't. It either makes sense of itself on its own terms, as a self-contained whole - - - or not at all. There never can, and never will be, Gods." MESSAGE! Message for you sir.

Carlos

It's strange that we don't have Egan's posthumans already, given how narrow their range of behavior is.

Egan also has a strong body-denying quirk in his fiction. The most sensorially vivid scenes in his novels are of, hm, an open unrepaired sewer (a touchstone image for the foulness of this world) and a description of the symptoms of dysentery. No shit in Math Heaven!

This brings me to a related point. While Egan obviously loves the mathematical sciences, one senses he's not very comfortable with them. There's a very chilled, formal vibe coming off the mathematical exposition on his website. I'm reminded of a reviewer's comment [paraphrasing] that he too has spent a lot of time in complex projective space, and it's much less interesting than Egan's character supposes.

(Hm. Maybe I should Vinogradov blog?)

Francis Burdett

>Egan also has a strong body-denying quirk in his fiction.

I think this is why I do not particularly like Mr. Egan’s work.

I have only read Permutation City, Distress, Diaspora and have scanned most of Teranesia while standing in a bookstore. I should not complain about characterization considering that I do actually read science fiction but I’ll be darned if I cared a whit about any of the characters in the novels.

Are they not utterly bloodless (both figuratively and otherwise)? Or would that be genitalless?

Why not break out the Nike sneakers, bunkbeds and blue jumpsuits?

{As an aside – I am remembering a scene poorly near the beginning of Diaspora when the two polis citizens were visiting the real world. While they have taken function of two abandoned robot bodies to search the outskirts of “Atlanta” one of them stumbles over something in the underbrush. The other states that the object represented some terrifying or destructive meme. What was that object? I have a guess}

-Francis “It’s the Real Thing” Burdett

Bernard Guerrero

Que? Egan doesn't like Coke? Evil, evil man.

Bernard "And I'm not kidding" Guerrero

Francis Burdett

Another useless sidenote this time on Mr. Gardner


Recreational Mathematics?

I am quite ashamed to say that in my case that makes about as much sense as recreational self-dentistry.

I am to be pitied, no?

Carlos

Yes.

Given Egan's prejudices, I wouldn't be surprised if it was of those fish symbols, fallen off the back of a car some nine hundred years prior.

Note the lack of empathy Egan's far future intellects always have. Instead of becoming more able to understand other points of view, they become less so. A future of intolerant bloodless math geeks. Gah.

One wonders how closely they resemble Egan's view of angels, before his road from Damascus experience.

Carlos

And answering myself, I've recently learned Egan confirmed that his novella Oceanic is a thinly disguised account of his conversion experience.

Charlie Stross

I must confess that I rather like Egan's work -- although it is indeed curiously bloodless when discussing the posthuman. (As is the work of other Australian SF writers -- coincidence or cultural quirk?)

And I don't find his anti-religious ideas remotely offensive. (But then, I'm a happy atheist.)

Carlos

Charlie, it ain't the ideas I find offensive: why would I? It's the unceasing proselytization. It's Christian sectarian fiction with a search-and-replace and a twist. Why do you think he had C.S. Lewis as a character in his recent short story?

If I were interested enough, I'd go through and analyze for you how he rigs his situations in order to "prove" his belief system right. Just like the Left Behind books (though Egan is a much better writer).

To paraphrase someone, "anyone who finds themself having to invent ever more baroque explanations solely in order to retain the axioms of their belief systems might benefit from stopping and asking themself if there's any conceivable reason why they might feel compelled to do this".

I am a little reminded of an atheist newspaper published where I went to college. Sixteen pages, twelve of them devoted to news stories around the world about priests molesting children. I don't doubt that most of those stories were accurate. And yet, I had no desire to read that newspaper.

Dave MB

The previous message on this thread looks pretty bogus. [Now gone! CY]
On the other hand, I missed this thread when it was first
posted and enjoyed reading it.

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