Jason's Reviews > The Clockwork Rocket

The Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan
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's review
Apr 13, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: e-books, read-2011
Read from July 01 to 02, 2011

4.5 Stars

This is a totally different take on an alien race very much like our own as they struggle with the impending doom that may befall their planet. A crash with an orthongonal star.

The aliens are very different from us. They are practically amorphous and plant like in nature in that they can sprout arms, hands, and other appendages at will. Their morphology is based around their abilities to control their skin... Their reproduction is sexual in nature but can also be asexual in nature as females can spontaneously reproduce if no male is present.

Their unique biology aside, we quickly come to realize that these "People" are very much like you and me and that their dreams and fears are much the same as ours. Their society is similar, their technologies, their problems, and their triumphs.

Yalda is an amazing and truly memorable protagonist. She alone elevates this story and adds the emotional impact to make it stand out. Egan has given us a young "Woman" who is strong, intelligent, and courageous enough to take on society and to not be afraid to step on tradition.

The structure of this book may intimidate some to quickly turn it away. This is a "Science" novel, on par with your college level physics and mathematics class. Much of the novel centers on Yalda and her friends pondering physics, time and space, and working out many equations and calculations. There are countless diagrams to view that explain their theories, and there is even an appendix at the end that tries to tie our Newtonian physics to that of the Orthagonal physics presented in this book.

I loved the physics, the calculations, the theorems, and the deep questions that were trying to be solved. I reread many pages over and over again and found myself going back to diagrams to try and better understand their thought process, and to tie it in with what I know of our world. This part of the book requires an engaged reader, and may not appeal to those that feel this story reads like a text book.

Greg Egan does this story due credit. He spends mass amounts of time describing the math and science of this book to make it real. Ironically by spending a small amount of time describing anything more than the biology of the alien race within this book, he was able to make them real by showing us a lot about their thoughts and feelings. Yalda is remarkable and the science is incredible, I highly recommend this one to science fiction lovers.
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