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Incandescence

3.6  ·  Rating details ·  1,648 Ratings  ·  162 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 the nearly 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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Published December 1st 2008 by Night Shade Books (first published 2008)
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Jason
Sep 20, 2011 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
Bruce
Oct 28, 2008 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
...more
Leo
Jul 31, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
SciFi Kindle
Mar 23, 2013 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
Derek
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Eva
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
ABR
Jan 18, 2016 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
Ron
Jul 23, 2015 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
...more
Cryptid
Apr 20, 2016 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
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
...more
Username
Oct 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paper, e-book
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
...more
Ryan Lackey
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jack
Mar 06, 2009 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.
Price
Jan 13, 2013 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.
Mick
Jan 05, 2012 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.
Lucas Wiman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Franks V.

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 galaxy. There dwell the Aloof, who for millions of years have deflected any and all attempts to communicate with or visit them.

...more
djcb
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Story set out in some far-future universe with two story-lines; one is about two bored post-humans sucked into some adventure journey through the galaxy, somehow guided/manipulated by the mysterious yet aptly-named Aloof. The second story is about an insectoid race living inside an orbiting rock, where a few of the previously very work-oriented creates get the gift of curiosity of the scientific kind and start constructing Newtonian physics and beyond. Of course, these two stories ultimately int ...more
Haim
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-sf
Solid, hard SF. Unfortunately, I just don't know physics good enough to understand the celestial mechanics really well, so big part of the book was not really interesting for me.

I guess I've been spoiled by space operas... I've found this book a bit dry, lacking in "drama", conflict or suspense. There are some interesting ideas in there, and I'm happy that I've read it, but it's not a kind of a book that you can't put aside because it's so captivating.
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
...more
David Wharton
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written hard sci-fi with a very interesting premise and some original ideas. Some of the math based sections are a bit overlong and require some grinding to get through, but worth it in the end. It's a shame there isn't a follow up.
Zeta Syanthis
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book really hard to get started on, but once it got going, holy crap did it get going. I can't really explain the mind-blowing moments without ruining them, but I'll definitely say that slugging through the first bit is worth it in the end. I'm glad I stuck with it. <3
Spencer
Aug 11, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tedious descriptions of physics without any of the established nomenclature combined with an unsatisfying (nonexistent) ending. Maybe some would enjoy it, but not me.
Dan Nave
Apr 13, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Boring, tedious, and ultimately unsatisfying. Unless you're a total physics nerd, do yourself a favor and skip it.
Mantis Hunting
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a totally awesome book. space cockroaches inside a rock orbiting a bunch of stars, trying to work out the laws of physics.
Colin Mattson
Jun 02, 2017 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.
Ginda Fisher
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of science, but a good story, too. The aliens are interesting. In this novel, Egan asks what it means to be human.
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Chaos Reading: INCANDESCENCE: Theo's Challenge 2 34 Aug 03, 2013 04:58PM  
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1,139 followers
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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“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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