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Incandescence

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  851 ratings  ·  108 reviews
The long-awaited new novel from Greg Egan! Hugo Award-winning author Egan returns to the field with Incandescence, a new novel of hard SF.
The Amalgam spans nearly the entire galaxy, and is composed of innumerable beings from a wild variety of races, some human or near it, some entirely other. The one place that they cannot go is the bulge, the bright, hot center of the gal
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Hardcover, 300 pages
Published May 15th 2008 by Gollancz (first published 2008)
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NGLND XPX by Ian HutsonDiaspora by Greg EganRed Mars by Kim Stanley RobinsonPermutation City by Greg EganRendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
Best Intelligent Sci-Fi
8th out of 129 books — 24 voters
Revelation Space by Alastair ReynoldsA Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor VingeHouse of Suns by Alastair ReynoldsUse of Weapons by Iain M. BanksAltered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
best hard science fiction
75th out of 141 books — 218 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,659)
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Jason
2.5 Stars

I love Greg Egan. I love his hard science fiction. I enjoy his near lecture style of his novels. Unfortunately, this book left me unable to bond with any of the characters. I kept putting this book down do to how slow I felt that it was going. As a result of start up and start again, I really lost most of this novel. I skim read, blanked out, and totally forgot things as I went along....

Oh well, I will reread this another day if I decide to give it a second chance.
Bruce
Maybe 3 and a half stars...

Greg Egan continues to write about the far far future in an intelligent thoughtful creative manner.

On the other hand, you have to be ready to deal with things like a large portion of the narrative of this book focusing on the discovery of newton/einsteinian laws of motion and relativity by an alien race. What made it more annoying to me was that all the terms were made up. So you have to remember that template mathematics means... algebra? and memorize (if you are real
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Ben Babcock
Much like Diaspora , Incandescence is more of a fictional treatise on esoteric ideas than it is a novel. A loosely convergent tale of two plots, Incandescence is a showcase of Greg Egan's ability to think big--really, hugely, mindbogglingly big. Once again, Egan sidesteps the traditional boundaries of consciousness and identity. There is nary a human to be seen in this book--personalities descended from DNA, yes, but nothing we could call humanity. Incandescence is posthuman to a very literal de ...more
Robert Laird
(3.5 stars would be a better rating)

Egan's tale of an alien species, in the process of cultural transcendence triggered by resolute need, is really interesting. It's hard to complain about characterization when you're reading about aliens, their thoughts, actions and words, but Egan did a fairly good job with that. While the tiny world of the aliens, the Splinter, is fairly simplistic, I was 90% of the way through the story before I really had a good picture in my mind about its nature. Whether
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Eva
I am very much a fan of Greg Egan's hard scifi. Here he presents us with two stages in the development of society and intelligence. One world that has reached, discovered and understood all there is, and struggles with finding balance and reason to live their eternal lifes. And one that is just in the process of awakening and developing a thirst for knowledge (or so it seems).

The story of the inhabitants of the splinter feels like a visit to a more substantial version of Abbott's Flatland. Even
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Brent Werness
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gendou
This is classic Egan. It's got an alien species that lives on an asteroid inside the accretion disk of a neutron star, which is totally bad ass! The "Aloof" play a small part in this book, but we don't actually get to meet them or anything.

Minus one star for incomprehensibility. The cardinal directions in the splinter could easily have been named north/south/east/west but were instead alien sounding words that were simply harder to keep straight. I found this ironic because there's even a plot p
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Leo
Sep 14, 2008 Leo rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Leo by: http://scalzi.com/whatever/?p=1064
This is the hardest SciFi I've ever read.

It comes pretty close to a lyrical exploration of the physics of the General Theory of Relativity.

Not knowing much of the physics, I found some of it a little hard to follow, but overall it was fun, and it looks like on the author's webpage www.gregegan.net there's some nice supplemental material to help understand what's going on.

I'd heartily recommend the book to anyone with an interest in physics, but even ignoring that, it was still a fun, beautiful
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Phil Scovis
I love Greg Egan's vision of the future, where humans have become omnipotent immortal gods, but they retain their essential humanity. (Readers of Schild's Ladder will find it familiar).

This book is hard work! Through the eyes of primitive insect-like inhabitants of a small asteroid, it tells the story of the development of modern astrophysics. The progress seems a little facile, as these creatures never seem to take a wrong turn, or get mired in politics and religion. But then, they're not huma
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Alexey Popov
This novel is quite interesting. The first plot, a search of a "lost DNA species" in the center of our Galaxy performed by a group of transapient beings, is, well, acceptable. The heroes "teleport" (with an einsteinian/transhumanist twist) from place to place looking for traces of the lost species. Nothing like an RPG or Indiana Jones though.
The second plot, a quest for knowledge - and ultimate survival - of very strange centipede-like creatures who live inside a hollowed asteroid the Splinter t
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John Reeves
Read this after Diaspora by Greg Egan also, because I had to hear more of what this guy had to say.

I think this roughly takes place after Diaspora, but WAY after. In a galaxy where to get from point A to point B (if B is unexplored) you first end out nano machines at high speed, and when they've built a receiver, you transmit your consciousness digitally. Makes sense to me. If you like, you leave a backup behind just in case something goes wrong. You use quantum encryption so that you can know i
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Jack
Mar 06, 2009 Jack rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf
There are other very good hard sf authors out there, but Egan is the gold standard IMO. A humane story about a grand search for personal meaning and a disaster adventure and a physics lesson all woven together.
Price
Every time a bit of plot threatens to pop up, a physics lecture swoops in and nips it right in the bud. SKIP IT.
Nelson Minar
Chosen because it's another story about the Amalgam, a setup I like. But it's not so great. Two separate stories only tangentially related. One of them (the Amalgam side) is sort of OK, but the characters are not well written and strangely passive. The other story probably seems great to some people, it's basically about a civilization discovering the theory of Relativity for themselves only in a weird world orbiting a neutron star. Lots of chapters of explaining the development of a scientific ...more
SciFi Kindle
The POV’s of the two alternating narratives that comprise this novel are so wildly different in style, that it feels like two separate authors are at work. One follows a restless citizen of a far future galactic civilization on a quest to discover something, anything, new and mysterious in the aseptically tame society he inhabits. The other narrative observes an alien species in an environment wildly different than our own discovering fundamental physics on their own terms under the threat of en ...more
Jack
Feb 10, 2009 Jack rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: physics geeks
Shelves: sf-hard
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adam
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kam-Yung Soh
An interesting book with two threads: in one, the inhabitants inside a world called the Splinter struggle to understand their surroundings, in the process discovering Newton's laws of gravitation and then Einstein's General Relativity - all without observing the outside universe. What they learn enables them to discover that their world may be doomed unless they can rally around an audacious project to save their world.

In the other thread, two travellers are invited to enter the territory of the
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Michele (Mikecas)
Da: http://www.webalice.it/michele.castel... .... Incandescence � indubbiamente un buon romanzo, anche se non certamente un capolavoro. Un romanzo di hard SF, con molta, forse troppa, scienza e una dose ragionevole di fantasia. La storia � flebile, con un finale che non � chiuso, come se ci potesse essere un seguito. Ma sicuramente non � la storia l'aspetto migliore di questo romanzo, bens� la descrizione delle diverse societ� che si vengono ad incontrare. La prima � la societ� dell'Amalgama, ch ...more
Yupa
Una domanda: scrivendo cosiddetta fantascienza hard, avere alte cognizioni di fisica, astronomia, matematica e quant'altro, esime comunque lo scrittore dal tentativo di, non dico dare una sorta di spessore ai personaggi, ma almeno imbastire una qualche larva di trama che non sia una mera successione rigidamente lineare d'eventi utile solo acché possano spiegarsi (nel doppio senso del termine) svariate teorie scientifiche, fossero pure le più affascinanti?
Perché il libro di Egan questo è, e nient
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Graham Clements
Incandescence is a science-fiction novel set millions of years in the future. Humans have evolved into immortal data streams that can travel through the galaxy on cosmic rays and reconfigure themselves in any shape they desire. They are know as the Almalgam.

At the core of the galaxy live the mysterious Aloof, who have rejected any attempts by the Amalgan to expand into their territory. The Aloof allow the Almalgam to travel through their territory, but not to stop.

Rakesh is a bored member of th
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Brad
The couple of Greg Egan's books I read prior to this one were chock full of mind blowing science fiction ideas. Ideas that require a certain amount of familiarity with science to really understand what was going on in the story. That is why I was excited when I saw a new book by Greg Egan I was hoping for an exciting hard sf read. While this book clearly had some exciting and interesting science in it, I felt the story was a little bit disappointing. Too much scientific detail that just got bogg ...more
WarBiscuit
I really wanted to like this book. The story was great. The characterization was excellent... Egan used to be critiqued for having flat characters in his earlier novels, and I think he tried to do better with Terranesia, but the characterization almost took over that book. This one, he got just the right balance. The plot drove the story, but you really got a good feel for the personalities of the different characters. I don't want to say too much about the plot, because it *was* a good plot if ...more
Outis
A much misunderstood book.
I don't think much of an interest in physics or math is needed to follow the narrative or understand what's going on. Certainly no education beyond high school and popular movies is required. An interest in geometry and the history of physics would however definitely make the book more interesting.
It seems many readers were either put off or very impressed because some characters are scientists and a small part of the book narrates their work in simple terms. While that
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Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime)
Brilliant. Hard SF at its absolute best.

It's almost impossible to imagine a galaxy-spanning civilization in a universe still bounded by the absolute limitation of the speed of light, but Egan manages to do it, and do it well. Yet, the galactic civilization is almost a throwaway in this tale. The true story is about a microcosmic society in a hidden backwater.

The people of the Splinter (from the start, clearly recognizable as some kind of orbital habitat) are clearly post-apocalyptic, their scie
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Ron
Science fiction scrupulously adhering to solid scientific speculation and with a plot largely concerned with the development of scientific knowledge. There's a dramatic story, but since most of the characters are virtually-reconstituted post-humans or completely alien aliens, it might leave some readers flat. The drama that is there emerges from the characters in one narrative thread needing to understand the nature of their part of the universe -- the relativity-distorted orbit of a neutron sta ...more
Alan
Sep 26, 2010 Alan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hard SF fans
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work and a back-pages ad in another Night Shade Press book
Greg Egan's science fiction is hard, hard, hard—it is "hard sf," usually as rigorous as Egan can possibly make it, which can make it hard to read without footnotes or a background in the hard sciences. And, sometimes, it's hard to like.

Incandescence is a textbook example of all three kinds of hard—the textbook in this case being something like Rediscovering Classical and Relativistic Physics. If extended descriptions of orbital mechanics and exposition about f=ma, thinly leavened with characteri
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Vanessa
A lot of the reviews I'm reading say that Greg Egan's Incandescence is too hard to read. Incandescence shouldn't be hard to read, and if you find it hard to read, you should feel bad about yourself.

Let me explain.

In the far future, a bunch of awesomely advanced creatures, some descended from humans, some not, are crazy whizbang brilliant. Plus, they've got a lot of cool technology- crazy far future technology that still manages to follow a few of the basic laws of physics, such as the one prohib
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Timotej Žuntar
Having only read Schild's ladder and a few short stories before, this doesn't (yet) strike me as a low point in Egan's work, as some reviews make it out to be.

The main characters are interesting and "human" enough. In fact, I could empathize with Roi to a greater degree than with some of the human protagonists of his other works. Of course side characters only serve the plot progression, but I can't really criticize this. At the very least, it's better than stretching the narrative even more - d

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Roger Eschbacher
Wikipedia defines hard sci fi as "a category of science fiction characterized by an emphasis on scientific or technical detail, or on scientific accuracy, or on both." By that definition "Incandescence" by Greg Egan is by far the "hardest" science fiction book I've read in my entire life. We're talking diamond hard here. If you're into the action-packed drama of space-time geometries, general relativity, and interstellar panspermia...have I got the book for you.

There is a decent story (lost alie
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Chaos Reading: INCANDESCENCE: Theo's Challenge 2 23 Aug 03, 2013 04:58PM  
  • Ventus
  • Engineering Infinity
  • City at the End of Time
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  • Learning the World: A Scientific Romance
  • Dragon's Egg
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  • Wireless
  • Nova War (The Shoal Sequence, #2)
  • Starfish (Rifters, #1)
  • Terminal World
  • Between The Strokes Of Night
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32699
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
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More about Greg Egan...
Permutation City Diaspora Quarantine (Subjective Cosmology Cycle, #1) Axiomatic Schild's Ladder

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“Parantham finally realized that selecting a star on the map enabled a sub-menu with the unassuming option "Go to star". Choosing this did not change the map's viewpoint or magnification; rather, it caused the map to inquire politely, "Are you sure you wish to travel to this star?” 2 likes
“We’ve been half right about a lot of things, but there’s something missing from our theories, something whose nature we haven’t even guessed yet. If we don’t learn to understand it, it will kill us.” 1 likes
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