Diaspora by Greg Egan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am very safe in saying that this is one hell of an ambitious, dense, and thoroughly grounded novel of mind-blowing physics housed in one of the most hardcore hard-SF frames I've ever seen.
That's including Cixin Liu's recent trilogy.
I've read a lot of physics books for the sheer pleasure of it and I have a pretty good imagination, but when I was reading this particular novel, I was hard-pressed to keep up with the wall of information, exposition, and detailed descriptions of particle and quantum physics, theoretical frameworks, then more theoretical frameworks branching off the first, and then yet more in case we might have been getting used to the previously heavy load. :)
Am I complaining? No. Hell no. In fact, I'm frankly amazed and thrilled. The underlying story feels like a MORE coherent and theoretical run on Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep, delving much deeper into the possibilities brought up by Contact, and it goes just about as far as you can go in transhumanism, ranging widely between regular humans, purely software/robot humans, and virtual polities within wide-umbrella AIs housing vast numbers of uploaded personalities.
The center of the galaxy went boom. It's the end of all life. Run. Run! Run!!!!! :) Vast number of years and high tech isn't enough to escape this.
What we have here is a full and vast adventure of exploration, discovery, and a mind-blowing physics reveal that not only lets the reader fall sideways through the universe and multiple dimensions, but it does it in an excellently ACCURATE direction (at least as far as we understand current physics).
The added realism is bolstered by a very excellent bibliography at the end and I can attest to the quality of at least three-quarters of them. :)
While this novel is NOT all that accessible to casual readers of SF, it IS extremely rewarding to those who are willing to sit through long theoretical (and not so theoretical) modern mind-blowing physics lessons. Is all the science necessary?
Hell yes, at least the way the plot requires them. :) This novel will not hand-hold anyone. And for that, my hat goes off. Much, much respect. :)
Oh, the novel makes me feel stupid, too. :) But that's okay. I've already sealed away a copy of it in a time capsule that will open in a thousand years for the enjoyment of our machine children with brains made of neutrinos who will have all the underpinning physics written into their bones.
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