Marvin's Reviews > Zendegi

Zendegi by Greg Egan
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's review
Apr 25, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: fiction, science-fiction
Read from March 04 to 15, 2012

Hm, now this was not a bad book.
But reading Egan, I hope for harder science fiction. Here he moved further down the path taken with Teranesia: the science only provides a background on which social and political events unfold.

The first part of the book is mostly set in now contemporary Iran and briefly around the MIT. To me it felt like a rather lengthy introduction to the history and background of the protagonists.

The technological innovations envisioned in the second part of the book set in 2027 are rather conservative: cloud computing provides computing power for immersive virtual reality games with treadmill like balls around the players and gloves and goggles for tactile and audiovisual feedback - things already existing in labs today.
The other projected innovation is a crude model of the human brain created by an interdisciplinary group of scientists using data gathered from various sources like MRI, PET, dissected donated brains from corpses, etc.

The story then unfolds as several parties try to use adapted partial brain models for their own purposes, like better non-player characters in computer games, automated call centre agents or personal immortality. This is met with resistance from religious and other groups like the CHL, the Cis-Humanist League. They are against the exploitation of conscious entities: "No consciousness without autonomy!" (Item seven on their manifesto).

So there are many interesting things to ponder: consciousness, identity, humanity, human rights, slavery. But Egan only touches them briefly, if at all. The centre stage is reserved for Martin and Javeed, father and son, their relationship and Martins attempt to cheat death.
Well written and heart-warming, but not to my taste.

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03/04/2012 page 16
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