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3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  1,478 Ratings  ·  149 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
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Night Shade Books (first published 2008)
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Sep 20, 2011 Jason rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2014
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.
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 d ...more
Oct 28, 2008 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brent Werness
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jul 31, 2008 Leo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Leo by:
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 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
SciFi Kindle
Mar 23, 2013 SciFi Kindle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 08, 2012 Derek rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
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
Jan 12, 2013 Eva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: space-future
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
Jan 18, 2016 ABR rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was a little skeptical of this one at first, owing to some of the reviews saying it's just a bunch of boring physics lessons. Well yes, but no. Imagine what it would be like to hear Galileo, Newton, Bohr, Einstein, and Feynman all going at it in the same room. All working together, and moreover gifted with a fortuitous vantage point that allows them to conduct experiments and gain direct insight into phenomena within hours with simple instruments that took humanity hundreds of years and the he ...more
Jul 23, 2015 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Yeah! This is what I’ve been looking for: hard science fiction which clamps on to you like a pit bull and won’t let go.

(view spoiler) Unlikely? Who cares? It’s a great story. In fact, t
Apr 20, 2016 Cryptid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OK, I pretty much love what Egan is doing... period... I've started with The Orthogonal trilogy which is basically about alternate universe and its intelligent inhabitants gradually discovering its somewhat different physical laws... I had to make quite a lot of notes and reread many parts just to get through it with some satisfying comprehension... and that one had quite a lot of drama and social conflict in it (so you probably can just skim through all the complicated stuff and still take quit ...more
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
Oct 25, 2014 Username rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book, paper
From Greg Egan's site: "A few reviewers complained that they had trouble keeping straight the physical meanings of the Splinterites’ directions. This leaves me wondering if they’ve really never encountered a book before that benefits from being read with a pad of paper and a pen beside it, or whether they’re just so hung up on the idea that only non-fiction should be accompanied by note-taking and diagram-scribbling that it never even occurred to them to do this."

Also: "much of what I write is c
Ryan Lackey
Nov 13, 2016 Ryan Lackey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 06, 2009 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 13, 2013 Price rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Every time a bit of plot threatens to pop up, a physics lecture swoops in and nips it right in the bud. SKIP IT.
Jan 05, 2012 Mick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hard-scifi
Enjoyed the universe and the story. I Had a hard time following a lot of the science. I'll have to give it another read sometime and see if the science is easier to follow knowing the outcome.
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
Colin Mattson
Jun 02, 2017 Colin Mattson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: legacy
True hard sci-fi, in a truly alien setting. Follow along as the characters derive general relativity from basic principles and experimentation in order to save their world.
Zack Wussow
Jun 22, 2017 Zack Wussow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As always with Egan it's more about setting than plot, but what a truly bizarre and fascinating setting it is.
Rebecca Burke
Spine-tingling science fiction adventure.
Apr 18, 2015 Alexandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
Another in my long slog towards Reading Everything By Greg Egan, Dammit.

When I started this last week, I was completely thrown: it was familiar. Like, I had definitely read this before. Yet I had definitely got it from the TBR shelf, so... wha? I thought about it, and I didn't remember the ending, but let's be honest - that's not exactly unusual for me. So I read a few more pages - still familiar. I read ahead 20 or so pages - getting less familiar. Eh; I decided just to keep reading, and see wh
Michele (Mikecas)
Da: .... 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
Oct 06, 2010 Brad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
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
Sep 26, 2010 Alan rated it liked it
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
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
Jul 04, 2013 Vanessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 28, 2010 Yupa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 29, 2008 Jack rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: physics geeks
Shelves: sf-hard
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Chaos Reading: INCANDESCENCE: Theo's Challenge 2 33 Aug 03, 2013 04:58PM  
  • Ventus
  • Red Claw
  • Cyberabad Days
  • City at the End of Time
  • Eclipse 1: New Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • The Quiet War (The Quiet War #1)
  • Learning the World: A Scientific Romance
  • Between The Strokes Of Night
  • Wireless
  • Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction
  • Troika
  • The Real Story and Forbidden Knowledge (Gap, #1-2)
  • Resplendent (Destiny's Children, #4)
  • Starfish (Rifters, #1)
  • Line War (Agent Cormac, #5)
  • Dragon's Egg
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fourth Annual Collection
  • Consorts of Heaven
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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“I hope you theorists know what you’re doing.’ ‘I can assure you that we don’t. The geometry is still beyond us. All I learnt in the void was that our best guess so far is certainly wrong.” 3 likes
“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?” 3 likes
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