I just finished Greg Egan’s Incandescence. Now, this is not a review, after all, that’s not what this blog is about (it’s about Robots and Accordions if you were wondering), but there are two great things in this great book I thought worth mentioning.
First, it’s clever. Better, it celebrates cleverness. Part of the book deals with an alien society living in an enclosed world who gain an understanding of the universe just by watching the motion of rocks. It’s fascinating to watch as the society develops number, and then algebra, and then a general theory of relativity, all based on the observation of the tiny world around them.
Second, it’s logical. It doesn’t rely on coincidence or emotion (which is not say that there is no emotional connection with the characters) to drive the plot forward. The book is built on the same foundations as the universe, the story unfolds according to natural laws, and is no less satisfying for this.
Now, this is not a book for everyone. You need some maths and physics to get to grips with it. But so what? There’s nothing wrong with writing something challenging.