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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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