Six hundred years later many star systems have already been lost and the baby universe is the largest phenomenon in our galaxy. Tchicaya travels to the ship Rindler to join others studying the ever growing threat, but the scientists have split into two factions: the Preservationists, who seek to collapse the baby universe at any cost, and the Yielders, who believe it must be saved and studied as the only truly 'new' piece of physics to have come along in millennia.
Is it possible that in a galaxy where only Earth has brought forth complex life that the phenomenon should be saved for even more compelling reasons?
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And can it be saved before someone takes unilateral action to destroy it? If I were forced to compile a list of the best five SF authors currently writing, I would have no hesitation in placing Greg Egan joint first with Bruce Sterling, if you're interested Greg Egan click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author. Note: This work of mathematical fiction is recommended by Alex for hardcore fans of science fiction.
Far in the future, the mathematical theory of "quantum graph theory" is the theory of physics. Unlike the current theories of relativity and quantum physics, which are obviously approximations that fall apart when pushed too far, QGT seems to be an entirely correct description of reality from the beginning of the universe onwards: a true theory of everything.
And so everyone is surprised when an experiment -- one that QGT predicts to be entirely safe -- goes wrong, producing an expanding "novo-vacuum" that will apparently destroy our universe. The main focus of the book is the moral and scientific questions surrounding the attempts to stop this disaster. It doesn't take long for this book to get into the mathematics; We see it right on the first page! As in several of Egan's other books, a form of mathematical physics that builds on current theories of quantum gravity is the focal point.
The so-called "quantum graph theory" is described in interesting and believable detail.
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Unlike some other mathematical fiction where the mathematics comes off sounding obviously fake, Egan is able to capture the essence and cadence of mathematical dialogue while saying things that, presumably, are equally fake. Here, for instance, the scientists brainstorm to try to figure out where they went wrong and eventually come up with an explanation that parallels the current attempts to explain the quantum measurement problem in terms of decoherence.
It is always difficult for me, personally, to read SF stories that take place so far in the future that the characters no longer really seem to be human.
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