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3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  875 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Nine-year-old Prabir Suresh lives alone with his baby sister, Madhusree, and his biologist parents on a tropical Indonesian isle. Teranesia is so small and remote, it's not on the maps, and its strange native species of butterfly remained undiscovered until the 21st century. Prabir never wants to leave, but war forces him to flee with Madhusree. He believes he has saved hi ...more
Published (first published 1999)
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Nicholas Whyte[return][return]This is basically the book I wished that Darwin's Radio, by Egan's near namesake Greg Bear, was going to be. The central idea is the same: peculiar mutations are occurring which will not only upset evolutionary biology but also perhaps imperil the future of humanity. However Egan ties his viewpoint character into a disturbing but believable family background with consequent psychoses, and the politics and biology all seemed considerably more ...more
Leif Anderson
Mar 03, 2008 Leif Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Another interesting book from Greg Egan. Highly interesting scientific ideas, backed up by writing that's pretty good. Kind of a spoiler here: but I particularly liked the fact that the main character was gay. When I read this book I suddenly noticed that you don't see that much in sci-fi. I also liked how that was fully intertwined in the plot, not just an attention getting add on.
Dans ce roman assez court, on suit les pas de Prabir, fils de scientifiques indiens ayant grandi à Vancouver et à la recherche de son passé. Je résume très rapidedement car le roman, déja court, ne se laisse pas facilement dévoiler. Ou plutôt, si j'en dévoile une partie, je risque très fort de trop en dire et de vous en gâcher le plaisir. Donc, si vous voulez éviter les spoilers, arrêtez de lire maintenant.

Je crois que, de tous les bouquins d'Egan que j'ai eu l'occasion de lire, c'est sans doute
Nov 21, 2008 Kay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who but Greg Egan could combine quantum physics with genetic biology? I rated this book a 4 simply for the enjoyment of exploring how those two could be related. Egan has a light touch in this book and banters about genetics, he also pokes fun at academic postmodern pseudo-science. The plot itself was less enjoyable, a bit heavy on the childhood guilt theme, but interestingly the main character's homosexuality turned out to be significant in terms of the plot twists - so not gratuitous.
Quien pensaba que la ciencia ficción no podía dar más de sí, es porque no ha leído a Greg Egan. Greg escribe ciencia ficción hard, es decir, sus novelas están plagadas de términos y explicaciones científicas y técnicas, y esto no hace fácil su lectura. Pero, aun así, es uno de los escritores, en general, no sólo dentro del género de ciencia ficción, con el que más disfruto. Sus historias poseen tal capacidad especulativa, son tan ricas en ideas sobre el futuro que está al cabo de la esquina, que ...more
Sep 07, 2009 Joe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a sci-fi novel about DNA and mutations, or something. The book starts off with two kids on an island with their parents, who are studying mutations in butterflies. The island gets caught up in war, and the parents die. The kids grow up, and end up coming back to the same island. Some other things happen, I think.

I liked the beginning of this book, but I liked each page less than the page before it. The writing started off pretty good, but at some point the story didn't make a lot of sens
More slowly paced that Egan's previous novels. Focuses on intra- and interpersonal stuff more than traditional science fiction. Not sure if the main character is chillingly mechanical on purpose or by accident; purpose and accident are the driving intellectual themes of the novel, which adds to the uncertainty. Features Egan's typically unbelievable character expositions on scientific and philosophical themes, along with his broad-brush hostility toward religion per se. The novel finally went of ...more
Mar 23, 2011 Raja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
A sluggish start, but it builds up into something quite interesting, and less weird than Quarantine or Distress -- although still weird, in the way that only Egan is. The end is abrupt, but does wrap things up. Needlessly heavy-handed in its uniformly scathing treatment of the religious and the intellectuals of the arts community, but that's really my only criticism. Otherwise, a solid entry in Egan's impressive opus. I'd still start with Incandescence, but Teranesia is easily up there with Dist ...more
Jan 19, 2011 Alyssa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Ugh! I've really enjoyed Greg Egan before but his patronizing caricatures of humanities academics in this book really pissed me off. I kept reading because I was enjoying the plot and characters, but I was ultimately disappointed by both. The ending might have made sense to someone with an advanced biology degree... but I got the feeling that it also might not have. I was with it about half way through the book, but at some point it lost me.

(And no, I'm not an insulted Derridean.... I just expe
Gary Baker
This book was sent to me by a mystery philanthropist in South Africa. (Actually, I have a pretty good idea who sent it.) It took almost three months to get here. Three months. Roll on quantatronic matter transfer machines I say.

This is lifted from the cover:

As a young boy, Prabir Suresh lives with his parents and sister on an otherwise uninhabited island in a remote part of the Indonesian peninsula. Prabir names it Teranesia, populating it with imaginary creatures even stranger than the evoluti
Jun 08, 2011 Derek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Greg Egan is one of my favorite "hard science" SF authors, but in this one I felt he missed the mark. It wasn't until page 160 - half way in - that I finally figured out where he was trying to go, and even then he never tried to develop his hypothesis to its conclusions. Animals are mutating: Why? We learn "how" - the mechanics - but nothing of underlying causes, and the final conclusion seems like a cop-out.

Somehow it seems that only an Australian writer would have needed to set part of this n
Aug 15, 2011 Roger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've read enough of my reviews you know I have certain "rules" and maybe I should even bother to collect them one day. One rule is as follows: the best stories are about people. That is especially important to remember when reading science fiction as a lot of SF is very concept oriented, and sometimes character development is sacrificed for problem solving. In Teranesia Egan goes to the other extreme-there is so much going on with the protagonist and his sister the mystery of why evolution ...more
Juno Silkshade
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Guillaume Jay
Quelque part dans un futur proche : une nouvelle espèce de papillons mutants vient d'être découverte par un couple de biologistes indiens sur une île du Pacifique. Parti sur l'île avec leurs deux enfants, Prabir et Madrushee, pour étudier ces lépidoptères, les chercheurs vont disparaître, victime de la guerre civile qui ravagent les Moluques, laissant les enfants livrés à eux-mêmes. Trente ans plus tard, les mutations se sont étendues à l'ensemble de la faune et de la flore des îles avoisinantes ...more
Joel Howard
First Greg Egan book I've been honestly disappointed with, so far. As usual with Egan, you expect an interesting scientific possibility expressed or extrapolated in some unique way. This book had that, kind of - but unlike the other Egan books I've read so far, in this one the deep insight was overpowered by weak characters and a boring, mostly interpersonal plot.
Aaron Arnold
Not his best work. I liked the shift from astrophysics and technophilia to biology, but even though the main evolutionary puzzle/MacGuffin in the book was fairly interesting, a good cross between quantum computing and evolution, I thought Prabir was one of the weakest protagonists Egan has ever written, and the emotional logic behind his decisions was as incoherent as it was annoying. Prabir was especially irritating in the beginning of the book, when he was an unconvincing wunderkind; it was th ...more
This is the first Greg Egan book I have read and although I enjoyed it, I couldn't help but feel like I was reading a 'teen sci-fi' novel. The somewhat simplistic protagonists appeared to be rant vehicles for Egan to righteously expound the idiocy of academia, new age woo-woo and religious ideology. Fair enough, his arguments are valid to a degree, however imagining and dedicating space to unlikable and pompous 'straw men' characters that embody everything that he is critical of and then proceed ...more
Simon Mcleish
Jan 26, 2013 Simon Mcleish rated it liked it
Originally published on my blog here in December 2002.

This novel cunningly avoids two clichés of the science fiction genre, something that in itself makes Teranesia an interesting read for aficionados. The first, one which has tended the ghettoisation of science fiction as a genre considered suitable only for adolescents, is the coming of age story of a precocious teenager. Central character Prabir Suresh is certainly precocious, but his adolescent years are omitted - in part one he is not yet a
Nov 17, 2013 Jan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first Greg Egan sci fi novel I've read. I picked it up on the recommendation of a friend of mine who said this was what sci fi was supposed to be -- not fantasy but real science fiction. One difference from the hard sci fi of my youth was the emphasis on the character of the protagonist. Prabir Suresh actually feels like a person, not a type. It's nice to have a non-white main character, and one who happens to be gay. The only times Egan really lost me were in his clumsy send-ups of ...more
The Hermit's
Jan 14, 2015 The Hermit's rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just got slapped with the 'never judge a book by it's cover rule!

The story doesn't really pick up until half way in. I was led to believe that the annoying brother would return to the island to find his sister metamorphosed into a butterfly... The science is boring, confusing and could've definitely been expounded upon/illustrated... something to do with quantum mutations.
Mark Mirmelstein
The last sentence of the book brought from 3 stars to be 5 stars.

This is the second book I read by Greg Egan, after reading Distress ages ago and purchasing most of his books up to now, but never having the time to dwell upon them.

While mostly reading hard sci-fi, I don't read much hard biology sci-fi. This is simply because I prefer my hard to be physics. However, in spite of that, the book did not fail me.

What made me finally approach to this book specifically, rather than Permutation City, Di
Mar 11, 2016 Attila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family, sf, asia
This book is more accessible than Egan's other novels (such as Permutation City or Schild's Ladder); nevertheless, it is still hard science fiction, and the reader should have quite a bit of knowledge about scientific topics, especially evolution, genetics, and quantum mechanics.

There were lots of things to enjoy: the scientific ideas, the dynamics between the characters, the predictions about the near future (that have turned out quite true), the kids' adventures on the island. It is a book I l
This author's major weaknessas a writer is that he doesn't care about things like plot or characterization or setting. For him, fiction is just a means of working out scientific ideas. In this book, he tries to overcome that weakness by creating the character of Prabir Suresh, but he doesn't fully succeed. I'm taking off an additional star for his offensive and inaccurate depiction of humanities scholars. Considering how curious he is about anything related to science, it's frustrating that he's ...more
...All things considered, Teranesia is a novel composed of a number of interesting parts that somehow don't seem to fuse into a cohesive narrative. The main character has his moments, the science is at times absolutely thought-provoking, the satire makes one grin at several occasions, but all of that is not enough to make this a successful novel. Structurally, the narrative has so many problems that the components remain interesting loose bits of information that do not manage to create somethin ...more
Dan Sutton
Jul 05, 2016 Dan Sutton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very understated and quite brilliant. Bring an IQ with you when you read it.
Ryan Lackey
I love Greg Egan's novels, and hard sci-fi, but just didn't like this book. It started out painfully slow, and while there was eventually some interesting content toward the end, I just didn't enjoy it or get much out of it. I'd still probably have read it for completion purposes (as I'd eventually like to have read all of Egan's work), but this is not one to prioritize. (Lots of internal dialogue with a character I didn't really like; lots of details about really boring things; the interesting ...more
Daniel Kenefick
Apr 29, 2016 Daniel Kenefick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t understand why Greg Egan generally, and this book specifically, are not getting more respect. Teranesia is unapologetic hard science fiction. It’s by no means perfect, but let’s give credit where credit is due: Egan is a master of the Genre. At the end of the day, his books make you think (quite literally, to understand the science driving them). There is substance behind the big words he uses, as I discovered after several Wikipedia searches and at least one academic paper. Very few aut ...more
Jul 20, 2016 Shmamfo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Self identified gay protagonist suddenly wants sex with a woman. Jerks off after she rejects him. He does not happen to be gay. He is only gay because it serves the plot.

If you want to read this book because it has a gay protagonist don't. Pick a gay author instead. As usual when a gay protagonist is written by a straight male author his heterosexual desire is projected onto every male character.
Stephen Poltz
Oct 01, 2016 Stephen Poltz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is science fiction in the true sense of the term: it is fiction that deals with science. In this case the science is genetics. A family is on a tropical island studying butterflies with a strange genetic mutation. A civil war breaks out and the parents are killed, leaving Prabir to care for his younger sister Madhursee, getting them rescued. Twenty years later, Madhursee returns to the island to study the growing number of genetic mutations in the region, leaving Prabir to deal with hi ...more
Julian Neuer
Sep 13, 2016 Julian Neuer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Really liked it -- that's the meaning of the four stars, according to the tooltip.

Why not five stars -- "It was amazing"?

I really don't want to focus on that.

I want to say that Greg Egan and Haruki Murakami (see Kafka on the Shore) are two great writers that have the courage and the lucidity to stand up against the PC-new-age-radical-feminist-cultural-relativistic mumbo-jumbo that passes for academic thinking nowadays.

That's what I liked most about this book. Here is the quote.

And the biology.
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Greg Egan specialises in hard science fiction stories with mathematical and quantum ontology themes, including the nature of consciousness. Other themes include genetics, simulated reality, posthumanism, mind transfer, sexuality, artificial intelligence, and the superiority of rational naturalism over religion.

He is a Hugo Award winner (and has been shortlisted for the Hugos three other times), an
More about Greg Egan...

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“It was like listening to two badly written computer programs trying to convince each other that they were sentient.” 2 likes
“All I’m saying is, technology can potentially do better than nature because of the very fact that it’s not always a matter of life or death. If an organism has been fine-tuned to maximize its overall reproductive success, that’s not the same thing as embodying the ideal solution to every individual problem it faces. Evolution appears inventive to us because it’s had time to try so many possibilities, but it has no margin at all for real risks, let alone anything truly whimsical. We can celebrate our own beautiful mistakes. All evolution can do is murder them.” 1 likes
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