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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Station Zero
Philip Reeve
Progress: 220/282 pages
The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition
Ursula K. Le Guin, Charles Vess
Progress: 749/997 pages
The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry
Robert Chandler
The Uncertain Land and Other Poems
Patrick O'Brian
Progress: 8/160 pages
The Heptameron (Penguin Classics)
Marguerite de Navarre
Progress: 152/544 pages
The Poems and Plays of John Masefield
John Masefield
Progress: 78/534 pages
Poems Selected
Emily Dickinson, Ted Hughes
Progress: 4/50 pages
Selected Poems
U A Fanthorpe
Progress: 18/160 pages
The Penguin Book of Scottish Verse
Mick Imlah, Robert Crawford
Hainish Novels & Stories, Vol. 2
Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 133/789 pages

The Clockwork Rocket, Greg Egan

The Clockwork Rocket. - Greg Egan

In one sense this is the most ambitious SF novel I've ever read. In every other it's kinda insipid. That one sense? The science! Generally, SF that isn't actually Engineering Fiction or (the very rare) Mathematics Fiction or Alternative History does its science by saying those scientific laws you know? They're approximately right but what if there was this extra thing I've made up? (Hyperspace, wormholes that don't have singularities in the middle, infinite computing power...)


Egan asks, what if the fundamental topology, geometry and laws of relativity were in fact different? (Here's a universe where there's no maximum velocity, time behaves exactly like space, in terms of laws of motion, oh, and the universe is the shape of a ring doughnut.) The answer is, apparently, then your story is 50% exposition about the consequences for physics, chemistry and biology, as discovered by our characters. Said consequences are very weird indeed and require more graphs than I've ever seen in a novel before, by some stretch. Perhaps the most weird thing, though, is that the consequences for alien psychology and social structure are almost negligable...


I'm pretty excited about reading the two follow-up volumes but mainly because I want to know how microscopic physics works over there in Torus Universe. Whether and how the aliens save their planet come a long distant second and third. How this stuff is supposed to appeal to anybody without a physics BSc, I don't know.