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Author: Greg Egan
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Mr Detective-san gets hired to find out why someone kidnapped a woman from an insane asylum. She’s practically a vegetable with no rich relatives, so the police have let it slide.
This all takes place X number of years after a barrier went up in space cutting humanity off from ever reaching the stars. No one knows how or why the barrier exists but it is enough that it does.
In the process of finding Vegetable Girl, Detective-san falls in with a bunch of scyenzetists who believe that aliens put up the barrier to keep the Human Gaze from making the universe into one universe instead of a multiverse where anything is possible.
Detective-san has to do something or other, as to the infinite multitude of Detective-san’s and he gets it done. Only he’s not sure if he got it done or not. But it doesn’t matter because if there really are infinite hims, then at least one of them did it and so the Universe is saved the from the evil Human Gaze (no kidding).
First off, despite my snarky “Synopis”, this was not badly written or even thought out. The problem I had with it was just how juvenile it was. By that I mean this is the kind of story that I and my friends would have batted around as teenagers. Nothing wrong with that at all, except that I’m not a teenager now and Egan wasn’t a teenager when he wrote this.
The story ends up ultimately being pointless and whole basic premise rests on there being no God. The whole IDEA that humanity locks reality into one path as they view it but that other beings might not view things the same way, at its core denies that there is a God who views everything and that reality springs from God Himself.
The other issue was how “serious” Egan treats the idea of the multi-verse. I think the multi-verse is a great idea and should be played around with. What I don’t think is that it should be given serious consideration.
Overall, I just didn’t want to like this book and Egan didn’t do one thing to change my mind about it. This is the first Egan book I’ve read and it will definitely be the last. If you’ve read him before and like him, have at him. If you’re into trying out some older but not classic SF, this might fit the bill. Written in the 90’s, it would fit right in with such tv shows as the X-Files and Sliders. At least I enjoyed those.
I chose this cover from Librarything because all of the other ones were piss-poor pathetic stinkos. Even free Gutenberg books have better covers than most of the ones I saw in English.