Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Axiomatic” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Collected Stories #1)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  3,927 ratings  ·  296 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Axiomatic, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Ankit That's a really good assessment. I think as someone with a more formal training in mathematics, Egan seems to focus more on building the overall…moreThat's a really good assessment. I think as someone with a more formal training in mathematics, Egan seems to focus more on building the overall systems and structures for his stories, and then placing an individual entity inside these and seeing how this imagined structure brings forth a realization of the 'self', quite like a numerical simulation of a mathematical model to derive inferences from it. Honestly some of Chiang's stories take this approach as well (the one with the pneumatic beings for instance), except that I feel his prose is slightly more fluid than Egan's, even though Egan's ideas are a better crystallized in the formal sense.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,927 ratings  ·  296 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Axiomatic
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
Manuel Antão
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Symplectic Geometry : "Axiomatic" by Greg Egan

"The Hundred-Light-Year-Diary" Story: Physics -> Time-Reverse Universe (5 stars)

“I climbed out of bed and started dressing, although I had no reason to hurry home [he’s shagging someone other than his wife]. Alison [his wife] knew all about us; apparently, she’d known since childhood that her husband would turn out to be a piece of shit.”

“The ignorance cults say that knowing the future
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.

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 ...more
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
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.
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
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
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
William Gibson said the future is here just unevenly spread about. Perceptive and imaginative science fiction collects pieces of future lying about in our world and crafts interesting mind blowing stories based on concepts and nuggets of the science we know. Greg Egan's collection of short stories explores the consequences of ideas we speculate upon in his fictional worlds. They are a great example of the genre on step ahead of people right now. Really enjoyable.
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.
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.
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:
"Egan's ideas stretch your head the way the better cyberpunk does, without cyberpunk's self-indulgent grime and alienation."
Danny Yee,
"Egan's Axiomatic is a collection of short stories solidly in the classical
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Stories of science, medicine, and I guess rescue operations.
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
Nov 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: nodozejoze
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Egan is evidently a remarkably clever author. And he's got a clue. It makes for a most satisfying read.
Looking at the publication dates, I've got to say he was ahead of his time as well.

There are naturally a few duds among these stories but enough really good ones to make up for them.
Peeking at the other reviews, I noted with interest that some people loved stories I hated and vice-versa so I'll play the game: my faves are The Hundred-Light-Years Diary, The Safe-Deposit Box, Seeing, Learning to
Olivia Newton
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joe Silber
A heady collection of hard sci-fi short stories mostly revolving around themes such as identity, free will, and the nature of consciousness. Egan's prose isn't the greatest, but his ideas are so unique and fascinating that the pages fly by. Some of these stories will blow you away. Highly recommended.
Fábio Fernandes
This collection contain some of Greg Egan's best stories. From "The Safe-Deposit Box" and "The Hundred-Light Years Diary" to the title story, "Axiomatic", they are all superb examples of Egan's unique way of writing, building stories with strong scientific premises and sense of wonder in everyday settings.
Sonya Christine
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for hard sci-fi lovers. Mr. Egan knows his business and his ideas are mind-blowing!
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
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Abyss-gazers and cellular automata
Recommended to Alan by: Peter T. this time, I do believe
"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
What a great collection of stories. If I were a producer of a TV series, I would buy the rights to all these stories and do a Black Mirror like show, because quite a few of these felt like they could be episodes. I took some notes as I went, so here we go:

Infinite Assassin: probably the hardest to wrap my head around. Felt like something from The Quantum Thief.

100 Light Year Diary: Interesting musing on predestination, with some ideas that gave me a headache.

Eugene: Almost like literally
Robert Martin
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The joke is that appreciating Egan’s work requires a PhD in physics. This possibly applied to a couple of the stories in this collection, but most of them are pretty accessible, and just great scifi all round.

I think The Hundred-Light-Year-Diary is really exemplary: it is set in a near-future society where everyone is able to send send short messages back in time, creating a ‘lifetime diary’ which they can read in advance of the events. But Egan doesn’t just use this as a premise, he derives it
Greg Egan is one of the many authors whose work(s) I haven't explored yet. But as this anthology appeared in several lists the past few years, I decided to give it a go and only after having read a few reviews to be sure I wouldn't buy a pig in a poke. Kevin's review (see here) and advice ultimately convinced me to buy the book. For the French readers (pour les lecteurs/lectrices français[es]): Mathieu's review.

This anthology contains 18 stories (I won't go into detail), which appeared between
Heather Browning
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
I've often thought it would be a lot of fun to write up some philosophical thought experiments as short stories; and this is exactly what Egan has done - addressing philosophical questions about personal identity, time travel and parallel worlds, as well as the implications of potential future science and technology. He clearly understands the scientific concepts used, and the detail makes the stories feel authentic. I particularly loved 'The Safe-Deposit Box' for its emotional impact, and ...more
Robert Lukins
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
My first Egan, and what a strange ride. I found the prose style consistently flat and often very inelegant and, well, flat-out bad; but... but... (and it's a big but), the IDEAS in these stories are outstanding.

Each story follows a similar formula: introduction of nondescript characters; introduction and explanation of mind-blowing idea (MBI); playing out of consequence of MBI.

The MBI are often based on a piece of high-level theoretical physics, or mathematics, or speculative science, and so
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Brilliant collection of hard science fiction short stories!! So so many fascinating ideas, ranging from genetics to bio engineering to worm holes, challenging, provocative and delightful. Some stories are okish but others are quite fantastic!! So glad there is a contemporary sci-fi author I like almost as much as Asimov/Clarke!!! <3
Definitely recommend it to any hard sci-fi fans
Karl Drinkwater
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I admire Greg Egan. In a recent discussion with beta-readers about an element of my next book, I mentioned that Egan wrote some great sci-fi about mind transfer into bodies so you can live forever - especially his Jewel stories in the brilliant Axiomatic collection.

I also highly recommend The Moat, which I read in the library at random and it led to me borrowing the book and becoming a fan of his work.

Fun fact: my gas man was called John Egan, and I kept getting his name mixed up and calling him
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Please, combine / add as edition, not a separate book 3 16 Jul 26, 2017 02:11AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Exhalation: Stories
  • Stories of Your Life and Others
  • …And I Show You How Deep the Rabbit Hole Goes
  • Blood Music
  • The Carpet Makers
  • At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels of Terror  (The H.P. Lovecraft Omnibus, #1)
  • The Ophiuchi Hotline (Eight Worlds #1)
  • Tower of Babylon
  • The Lifecycle of Software Objects
  • Blindsight (Firefall, #1)
  • The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary
  • Titan
  • A World Out of Time (The State, #1)
  • Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century
  • Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology
  • Beyond the El
  • Software (Ware, #1)
  • Catfishing on CatNet
See similar books…
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),

Other books in the series

Collected Stories (3 books)
  • Luminous
  • Oceanic
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“All we can ever know about are the portraits of each other inside our own skulls.” 8 likes
“I want to end my life like a human being: in Intensive Care, high on morphine, surrounded by cripplingly expensive doctors and brutal, relentless life-support machines. Then the corpse can go into orbit—preferably around the sun. I don't care how much it costs, just so long as I don't end up party of any fucking natural cycle: carbon, phosphorus, nitrogen. Gaia, I divorce thee. Go suck the nutrients out of someone else, you grasping bitch.” 5 likes
More quotes…