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4.29  ·  Rating details ·  4,871 ratings  ·  399 reviews
Axiomatic is a collection of Greg Egan's short stories that appeared in various science fiction magazines (mostly Interzone and Asimov's) between 1989 and 1992.

The Infinite Assassin (1991)
The Hundred Light-Year Diary (1992)
Eugene (1990)
The Caress (1990)
Blood Sisters (1991)
Axiomatic (1990)
The Safe-Deposit Box (1990)
Seeing (1995)
A Kidnapping (1995)
Learning to Be Me
Paperback, 293 pages
Published December 1st 1997 by HarperPrism (first published July 1990)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  4,871 ratings  ·  399 reviews

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Kevin Kelsey
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Hugely original ideas, not every story is a home run but there are enough 5/5 stories here to make this very recommended for any fan of hard science fiction. The concepts are extremely unique even 20 years later. Very similar to Ted Chiang’s writing. I have no idea why Greg Egan isn’t a household name in SF.

“As the unknowable future becomes the unchangeable past, risk must collapse into certainty, one way or another.”

“We think of our lives as circumscribed by cultural and biological taboos, but
Glenn Russell

Eighteen science fiction short stories collected here, mind-expanders blasting out to the frontiers of futuristic biochemistry, physics, pharmacology, electrical engineering and most everything in between. Greg Egan is a terrific writer. As a way of opening the door into these unique and startling worlds, rather than saying a little about a number of pieces, I'll focus all my words exclusively on the title story - Axiomatic. SPOILER ALERT: I analyze this story from beginning to end.

“Everyone is manipulated; everyone is a product of their times. And vice versa.
Whatever the unchangeable future holds, I’m sure of one thing: who I am is still a part of what always has, and always will, decide it.
I can ask for no greater freedom than that.
And no greater responsibility.”

This book goes straight to no. 1 in my personal top of collections. I never read anything like it, and I doubt there is another out there to match it (except, maybe another one of his, which I'm yet to read
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent collection of sci-fi short fiction, told in the key of Philip K. Dick but with much better characters and dialogue. Some of the ideas presented in this collection are haunting and seem day-after-tomorrow possible; Egan seasons his stories with just the right amount of science and technology to give the reader a sense of realism amidst the unfolding dystopia.
Oct 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Axiomatic is an absolutely incredible collection of hard science fiction short stories, comparable to Ted Chiang's best work. Reading this book meant being bombarded by idea after idea, challenging my imagination as well as thoroughly taxing my scientific knowledge. The biologically-leaning stories were the easiest to comprehend for me, as I have tertiary biological education. High-school physics (and my history of reading sci-fi) was enough to arm me for the rest of the stories, although some c ...more
Peter Tillman
I'm pretty sure I wrote a review of this back in the day, but be damned if I or Google can find it. Anyway, a near -great collxn that I should reread. Here are 2 good reviews online:
Christina Schulman: http://www.epiphyte.net/SF/axiomatic....
"Egan's ideas stretch your head the way the better cyberpunk does, without cyberpunk's self-indulgent grime and alienation."
Danny Yee, http://dannyreviews.com/h/Axiomatic.html
"Egan's Axiomatic is a collection of short stories solidly in the classical traditi
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
For some reason, I never read short story collections, but I decided to give Axiomatic a try. What a great surprise! So many great ideas, all executed so well. I liked all the stories, and a few of them managed to hit home in an original and unpredictable (for me anyway) way. I liked it so much, my next book will be another short story collection. A few of the ideas were fairly complex, and it took a little thinking to understand them to my satisfaction, but probably not an insurmountable challe ...more
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, shorts
(Probably 5 stars on re-read)

Phenomenal. (Usually not nice phenomena, but always strong phenomena.) Every one of these produced an effect in me, from deep grimace to snort to total pathos. It took me a month to read 18 stories, because it is stressful to encounter characters this vivid in scenarios this brutal.* Every story has an actual logic - often a fantastical one, like the retrocausal literally-hypothetical boddhisatva posthumans of 'Eugene'. He has few peers in thinking this hard and maki
“The number of parallel worlds is uncountably infinite – infinite like the real numbers, not merely like the integers – making it difficult to quantify these things without elaborate mathematical definitions, but roughly speaking, it seems that I’m unusually invariant: more alike from world to world than most people are. How alike? In how many worlds? Enough to be useful. Enough to do the job.”

Greg Egan’s short shorty collection Axiomatic starts with The Infinite Assassin, which I find quite dif
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, anthology
If there's a common thread in this collection of short stories, it's "what makes me, me?"

From the opening story, in which a man travels the multiplicity of parallel universes, assassinating the people who cause breaches between them; to a pair of tales involving the use of neural implants to change what a person believes; to the stories about the Ndoli Jewel: a device that everybody has implanted in their skulls at birth, that learns everything they do, and is eventually used to replace the brai
Ben Loory
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
brilliant. every story is literally amazing and his voice is one of a kind-- so calm, understanding, intelligent, and rational, while still being fun (not funny but actually fun). there's a part of me that wishes he could actually land an ending, but i'm not sure it's even really possible in this mode. so don't wait for the big cathartic moment; i think he probably sees catharsis as a low-level trap.

anyway, i'll certainly be reading this book again. as well as all his others.
Damian Murphy
Jul 25, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That these stories consist largely of thought experiments is fairly obvious from the beginning. Once you accept them as such they make for excellent reading. A handful of them approach perfection, exploring a particular idea from multiple angles without exhausting the possibilities, featuring just enough character and narrative to comprise a legitimate story—more would be too much—and engaging with issues such as time-travel, consciousness-transference, immortality, and various modalities of tel ...more
I've only read some of this guy's stuff online, and once his short fiction appears in affordable versions i will snap it up. A hallucinatory, mind warping, and terrifying combination of Triptree jr.,Ted Chiang,Ballard, and Borges. Hard Science and painfully realized concepts that will effect the way you view each moment of your life. ...more
Matthew Gatheringwater
Who are you, really? It isn't always easy to tell, especially when you live in a society where 18-year-olds routinely have their heads scooped out like melons and replace their brains with computers. Sure, the computer does everything the brain did and it is less likely to malfunction, but what if something does go wrong, just every now and then?

This is the premise of one of an interesting collection of stories by Greg Egan. Most of the stories have something to do with the way technology shapes
Apr 29, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Most of the "Ok"s here are at the threshold of enjoyable, so it was almost the case that I enjoyed every story. Although Egan is known for Hard SF, several of these aren't. Quite a few are arguably horror stories as well. I couldn't have reasonably expected to have enjoyed myself more than I did. His ideas all are almost always interesting, but it's less often that they have enough substance outside of the idea itself for me to enjoy.

The Infinite Assassin (1991)
A relatively invariant assassin is
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
I have always been amazed at Neal Stephenson for being able to write Snowcrash and The Diamond Age in 1992 and 1995 respectively. I am now equally amazed that Greg Egan wrote this in 1995. In fact, even more, because while the first two books were novels and dealt with a smaller number of concepts, this book is a collection of short stories, and except for a (connected/repeat) couple, are unique concepts. Imagine, 18 stories with ideas that would still be regarded as science fiction!
In addition
Miriam Cihodariu
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australia
My second read from Egan, after Luminous, which I also loved very much. This second collection of short stories just deepened my affinity to his ideas. The style is also very much up my alley - very sciency and abstract but not hard to follow or chaotic.

There are plenty of ideas in this hard sci-fi collection that was praised for having somewhat of an anticipatory nature, and it's easy to understand why. Egan deals with questions surrounding mind over matter, limitless experimentation, what act
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing collection of short stories. My first reading of anything by Egan. Complicated ideas but extremely well written and alot of fun. At times quite in depth with his knowledge of the scientific topic but it challenges the readers ideas and perceptions which I love about Scifi.
Quality varies story to story, but several things stay the same: the prose is straightforward and readable; the main character is educated, rational, selfish, seemingly incapable of normal human emotion; and the big idea is intriguing and suggestive, but is over-explored in bald-faced exposition rather than through action or dialogue, and rarely developed to a satisfying conclusion. Nevertheless, for sheer inventiveness coupled with solid writing, it's hard to go past Egan. His mind is clearly f ...more
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reading a story a week on average since December of last year and still can't grasp some of the implications of the tremendous amounts of ideas Egan has put in these mere 20ish paged stories.

Call it a paradigm shift, call it an apotheosis, call it metamorphosis or whatever fancy word you can come up with because once you read this, there is no word describing the feeling, the epiphany, elation; the likes of which I have not seen/felt other than in the works of Ted Chiang and a select few others.
Jose Moa
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I think it one of the best hard sf tales collection,full of wild but plausible ideas
Johan Haneveld
Feb 21, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
10- An absolutely marvelous collection of SF-stories. This was the first I ever read by Greg Egan but it will not be the last. I had associated Egan with stories of weird physics and geometries (and there's one such story here), but this was more to do with human identity and the way that can be shaped and transformed by outside influences. This made the stories profoundly human and brought their speculation close to home (at least to me). In their exploration of the consequences of biotechnolog ...more
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Stories of science, medicine, and I guess rescue operations.
Apr 23, 2022 rated it really liked it
EUGENE: ☆☆☆☆☆
THE MOAT: ☆☆☆☆
THE WALK: ☆☆☆☆☆
CLOSER: ☆☆☆☆
Sep 05, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Incredible writing and thought provoking. This short story collection is some of the best sci-fi I've read. ...more
Warwick Stubbs
The Times quote on the front cover states “One of the genre’s great ideas men.” And they’re not wrong. This book is filled with ideas that would make good stories.


Y'know, those things that have plot and characters, and aren't just lots of info-dumping. Stories with interesting characters who actually participate in the world around them.

Okay, that's coming off a bit too harsh. All but three stories are presented in first-person narratives with characters who do participate in the world,
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it
"Whatever makes you think I'm as rational as that?"
—"Closer," p.265
And, whatever made Nietzsche (or anyone else) think there was only one abyss worth gazing into?

But I digress...

Greg Egan's science fiction collection Axiomatic is a landmark, the kind of work that can cement a reputation—and, indeed, upon reading this book for a second time after more than 20 years, I still think it showcases some of Egan's best stories.

It's still cold too, though. After all, Egan's great strength as a science fi
Aaron Arnold
Great stuff. My favorite author as a kid was Isaac Asimov, and his Foundation and Robot novels gave me a permanent appetite for books that try to take ridiculous ideas about the future as seriously as possible, factory-farmed MFA-approved "literary" qualities be damned. The average story in this collection of 18 is twenty pages long, but each one has an absurd number of nutcase ideas per page, and it's wonderful. There's no way I can summarize all of the stories so I only want to talk about two, ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Charles Dee Mitchell
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary-sf
I might have enjoyed these stories more had I understood them.

That is a slight exaggeration. I was not completely in over my head with every story, but since Egan is known for writing the hardest of hard SF, I am sure I would have been having a different experience at times if I knew more about the physics of parallel universes or the behavior of wormholes. When Egan builds the stories around psychological or biological concepts I was on surer footing.

My favorite story was his last, “Unstable O
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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

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