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Dark Integers and Other Stories Hardcover – March 25, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean; 1st edition (March 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596061553
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596061552
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #814,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Adventure blends with mind-boggling mathematics and science in this idea-heavy reprint collection. A detailed introduction for laypeople explains the malleable math of quantum mechanics, curved space and number theory. Luminous and the title story follow two academics turned spies who fight off deadly incursions from a mathematical realm that could unravel our own universe. Mathematical secrets are also the key to an ancient mystery and a modern war in Glory, while Riding the Crocodile details the millennia-long efforts of a pair of scientists to understand the Aloof, a mysterious race living in the heart of the Milky Way. The Hugo-winning novella Oceanic closes this intriguing array with a look at a far-future colony where science and religion collide in faith-shattering ways. Egan (Teranesia) is renowned for bringing the most abstract concepts of physics and philosophy to life, and these diamond-hard science fiction stories ably showcase his talent. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

This modest volume demonstrates the very high art of award-winning Australian sf author Egan. Luminous and Dark Integers share both a universe and the theme of the use (or abuse) of mathematics to reshape reality with obvious, not to say terrifying, potential as a weapon. Riding the Crocodile and Glory use time travel and archaeology in a similar fashion, addressing how we study reality that can no longer be changed. Oceanic is a justifiable Hugo winner, depicting a young man’s crisis of faith as he realizes the flaws in the religion that has supported him from childhood—and his is a classic crisis of faith, not a mere excuse for cult bashing. This superb story by itself warrants the acquisition of this book by all literary sf collections. --Roland Green

More About the Author

I am a science fiction writer and computer programmer. You can find information, illustrations and interactive applets that supplement my books at www.gregegan.net

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Paul R. Potts on March 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a Greg Egan fan from way back. It is absolutely ludicrous that this Hugo and Campbell award-winning author, who has written some of the most engaging and challenging science fiction novels and stories to be found anywhere, is almost nowhere to be found on the shelves of the chain bookstores like Borders and Barnes and Noble, while the shelves are dripping with soft-porn vampire novels and Heinlein ripoffs. Their buyers should be shot.

Anyway, the stories collected in this volume are "Luminous", "Riding the Crocodile", "Dark Integers", "Glory", and "Oceanic." This is a relatively small number of stories -- it's certainly not an omnibus of Egan's work, or even a "best-of," although these are longish stories. If you want to dig deeper into Egan's stories, I recommend the collections "Axiomatic" (older) and "Luminous" (newer). If you buy those in addition to this book, you'll wind up with two copies of "Luminous," the story, but they don't overlap other than that. It is shameful that so much of his work is out of print, but you ought to be able to find these two collections used.

"Luminous" and "Dark Integers" are set in the same world-line, in which it is discovered that some of the fundamental mathematical properties of the universe can be altered by doing computer-driven proofs using one chain of reasoning versus another -- in other words, the actual set of provable mathematics is malleable depending on your starting point, and not just necessarily incomplete, as Godel showed. This is a fascinating conceit, a bit like the idea that manufacturing a new molecule, or a new isomer, may be hard to do the first time, but once it is manufactured, it can easily be replicated elsewhere in the world because somehow the rules of reality have shifted.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mike Fazey on April 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is Greg Egan's first book since 2002, and his first short story collection for a decade. It was worth waiting for. There are five longish stories in this collection, including the previously published Luminous and its sequel Dark Integers, two stories set in the far future world of the Amalgam (the setting for Egan's upcoming novel Incandescence) and the award-winning Oceanic.

Although there are a good many Egan stories that have yet to be collected, it was worth reprising Luminous in this collection because the title story has more impact when you have Luminous fresh in your mind. Together they make an exciting double. Not many writers could take two stories about the most abstract of mathematical concepts and turn them into such thrilling reading, but Egan has done it really successfully here.

The standout story in the collection is Oceanic. Although the science vs religion debate is far from a new theme, it remains fertile ground for thought-provoking SF. Oceanic deals with the nature of faith and does it in a poignant way. Although science eventually proves to be the more compelling belief system for the young protagonist, it's done without malice and without smugness. It's a wonderful story.

For me, the Amalgam stories were less engaging, though still fascinating enough to have me looking forward to the new novel.

Egan's reputation for intelligent, ultra-hard SF with a philosophical edge will be enhanced by this new collection. For lovers of literary SF that stretches the imagination, it's a must. And you don't have to be physicist or a mathematician to appreciate them. If, like me, you're unschooled in these disciplines, Egan will help you to get your head around some pretty mind-bending concepts without dumbing them down or blinding you with science. That's quite a feat. And Egan is quite a writer!
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ryles on January 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
Interesting but too short. I wished the main short stories - Illumination and Dark Integers - were built-up more.
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