The Age of Death ended countless millennia ago. No longer burdened by limited life spans, the immortal humans who populate inhabited space now have the luxury to travel vast distances disembodied, as streams of data.
For twenty thousand years, every observable phenomenon in the universe has been successfully explained by the Sarumpaet Rules: the laws governing the dynamics of the quantum graphs that underlie all the constituents of matter and the geometric structure of space-time. Scientist Cass has designed a set of graphs that comprise a different type of physics. She travels to the remote planet of Mimosa to test her findings. Unfortunately the results are a reversal of the expected outcome and the scientists create a rapidly expanding vacuum which begins to eat its way through the galaxy, destroying thousands of inhabited planets in its wake.
Six hundred years later, on a ship called the Rindler, which coasts along at the same speed as the vacuum's border, Tchicaya joins a gathering of people from all the remaining worlds, to study the vacuum. Tension arises between the Yielders-those who want to stop the vacuums progress but preserve it and the Preservationists-who want to destroy the vacuum. Amid the internal conflict, new evidence suggests that something previously unimaginable is rapidly growing deep within the mysterious, 600-light-years-wide vacuum.
This report prepared by Corinna Underwood
Eos, May 2002, 25.95, 342 pp.
Twenty thousand years into the future, humanity has conquered everything in its path including death yet so far at least no other sentient life form has been found that did not originate from earth. Science rules, as knowledge is everything. However, a quantum physics experiment inadvertently creates a vacuum effect that forms a new universe with physical laws different from the current one. This universe is growing rapidly and eats anything in its path though nanotechnology has kept humanity safe by instant evacuation.
However, what is to be done about the ever-expanding new universe that threatens life as we know it becomes the subject of great debate. The Preservationists want to destroy the new universe before it consumes humanity. The Yielders prefer to allow the growth of the new universe in order to study the phenomena. In that void, star crossed lovers Tchicaya and Mariama join separate and opposing hostile camps.
SCHILD'S LADDER is brilliant science fiction as it entertains the reader with an action-packed plot yet requires the audience to think about the ethical clashes that make up the science community as part of the larger society. The story line is cleverly designed to run faster than the speed of light yet maintains a cerebral moral fiber to the plot. Characters are fully developed so that the audience understands for instance the split between Tchicaya and Mariama. Fans of science fiction will want to read Greg Egan's distant future intelligent thriller that leaves the audience hungering for more novels like this one while debating current scientific moral dilemmas confronting society today.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner