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The Arrows of Time: Orthogonal Book Three by [Egan, Greg]
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Kindle Edition, 21 Nov 2013
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Length: 368 pages Word Wise: Enabled Audible Narration:
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Language: English

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Product Description

In an alien universe where space and time play by different rules, interstellar voyages last longer for the travellers than for those they left behind. After six generations in flight, the inhabitants of the mountain-sized spacecraft the Peerless have used their borrowed time to develop advanced technology that could save their home world from annihilation.

But not every traveller feels allegiance to a world they have never seen, and as tensions mount over the risks of turning the ship around and starting the long voyage home, a new complication arises: the prospect of constructing a messaging system that will give the Peerless news of its own future.

While some of the crew welcome the opportunity to be warned of impending dangers - and perhaps even hear reports of the ship's triumphant return - others are convinced that knowing what lies ahead will be oppressive, and that the system will be abused. Agata longs for a chance to hear a message from the ancestors back on the home world, proving that the sacrifices of the travellers have not been in vain, but her most outspoken rival, Ramiro, fears that the system will undermine every decision the travellers make.

When a vote fails to settle the matter and dissent erupts into violence, Ramiro, Agata and their allies must seek a new way to bring peace to the Peerless - by traveling to a world where time runs in reverse.

THE ARROWS OF TIME is the final volume of the Orthogonal trilogy, bringing a powerful and surprising conclusion to the epic story of the Peerless that began with THE CLOCKWORK ROCKET and THE ETERNAL FLAME.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3428 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; 1 edition (21 November 2013)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00E5D5S28
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #322,716 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 3.7 out of 5 stars 16 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing end to a promising series. 10 June 2015
By Bard Bloom - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Arrows Of Time, by Greg Egan — the third and final book of Orthogonal — was clearly going to be the crown or the gravestone of the series. Answer: gravestone.


So of course the book has the ultimate flaw of Orthogonal: there's too much alien physics, revealed by conversation. If you weren't following the physics of the first two books *and* pretty familiar with real-world physics for comparison and contrast, some 20% of the book might as well not be there. Never mind that, though.

A lot of the book is about an expedition to a reverse-time planet. This is about like the Red Dwarf Drawkcab, except that it's played for serious and thus doesn't come off as well. The reversed planet is a rocky ball, not inhabited, so that at least isn't stupid. But — if you go walking in loops on a dusty plain there, you will frequently end up stepping into existing footprints and they close up as you remove your feet. If you walk down a rocky slope, little pebbles spontaneously roll uphill and stop at your feet. If you weren't the one to carve in the rocks, you can't carve in the rocks. I'm pretty sure that Egan thinks it makes sense, but I never got enough of a clue to understand it.

The book is mostly about a device that lets you get messages from the future. This could be interesting. However, the *universal* response to the machine was to lose all creativity and nearly all initiative, for, as far as I can tell, purely philosophical reasons. It's perhaps not an unreasonable choice for some individuals, but for *everyone* in the whole society? And the response of the somehow all-powerful Council was to build *more* future-message machines, instead of, say, turning off the one machine that is destroying their whole society.

(Also, everyone's future self seems to send back full details of the future to the past, which makes *nothing* be at all interesting when it happens. And everyone's future self seems to send back nothing but the clear unambiguous truth, and everyone's past self seems to believe every word of it.)

And speaking of that Council ... sheesh. They seem to be the root of all evil in this book — which is somewhat prefigured in the last book — but they barely get names and definitely not personalities. Somehow the populace constantly re-elects the absolute amoral monsters among themselves, and have done for decades or more. It generally sounds as if Egan is thumping at us with a hammer shouting 'Government is evil! Government is evil!'

This book is approximately the series giving up on science, and turning into more of an adventure movie with too many car chases instead of good plot and characters.

The most interesting feature for *me* has always been the reproductive system. In book 1, women would fission into four children (dying in the process), and men would take care of those children. In book 2, they found a mechanism for having a woman bud off a single child and live (and become unable to fission in the normal way). OK, that's cool, and so what happens to society? It's kind of a big deal because, with book 2 tech, there is no actual function for men. In the coda to book 3, it is revealed that the spaceship-dwellers eliminate both sexes, becoming hermaphrodites which all have the capabilities of both. Now *that* would be interesting to watch, far better than the annoying adventure-movie plot about the future-message machine. But it all happened off-screen.

Rating: Two dimensions out of five. The main plot of the book seems like rather contrived filler. A disappointing end to a promising series.
3.0 out of 5 stars Grand but failed attempt at an alternative physics in the Orthogonal series. 19 March 2016
By TwoMetreBill - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a review of all 3 books in the Orthogonal series.

Greg attempts to define at a very detailed level, an almost completely alternate physics and biology to our own; that which couldn't exist in our universe. While the biology is believable and consistent, even though far more foreign that any produced by the space operas such as Star Wars and Star Trek; the physics is inconsistent and confusing. Just one example, time simultaneously going forward and backward. While time flowing in reverse could have been logically explained, it just comes across as confused.

His other books are much better.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pretty good conclusion to the series 12 November 2014
By B.Keeler - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Overall, I really enjoyed this trilogy. In the first novel, Egan introduced a universe with rather different physics, and an alien race with decidedly different biology. Faced with an existential threat, they feel they need to buy themselves some time to come up with a solution. They hit upon an audacious plan to turn an mountain into a spaceship and accelerate it to infinite velocity (there is no cosmic light-speed limit in this universe) thus turning their 'arrow of time' orthogonal with respect to their home world.

The first novel deals with introducing the new physics and new biology, defining the threat and the beginning of the voyage. The second picks up a generation or two after the first and explores new aspects to the physics as well as a social revolution relating to birth control.

The third plays with the notions of time-travel and causality. Many other science fiction authors have explored this area, but Egan still managed to introduce some fresh ideas. The travelers have the opportunity to construct a device which enables them to receive messages from their future selves, but the idea is politically polarizing. About half of the book is concerned with the adventures of a small group of dissenters who want to see if it is feasible to colonize a world whose time arrow is running backwards.

The ending is, as others have pointed out, the one really weak spot. Given the nature of the overall story arc it's inevitable that the conclusion would be something of a deus-ex-machina. "We're back, and here's how we're going to save you." I'm not sure how Egan could have fixed this problem. I wanted to hear about the inevitable culture clash between the arch-conservative home-worlders and the socially progressive travelers, but that would necessarily come after the conclusion to the main story. Perhaps an epilogue would have been the right way to do it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic trilogy with a weak conclusion 11 September 2014
By Christopher Lewis - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Overall I think the Orthogonal series was fantastic. It's mind-blowing enough that Greg Egan worked out all the physics for a universe completely different from our own. On top of that he wove a compelling alien culture and an allegory of women's rights with strong characters, all too rare in science fiction!

That said, this final entry in the trilogy is the weakest of the three. The whole book felt rushed, particularly the ending which came out of nowhere and basically amounted to "everything worked out fine". And the physics really went crazy here, in sometimes silly ways, although I suppose it would have to after all the buildup!

Altogether I'm really glad I read this series, but the ending could have been stronger.
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing finish to a good series 21 October 2015
By dhasenan - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The previous two books in the series featured a good mix of alien physics and social problems. This book is much shorter on social problems, though, and adds a weak thread of thriller that only appears in the final few chapters of the book. Since it's not strongly anything, it suffers.

The problems we see have straightforward solutions, for the most part. Where there is disagreement, we tend to see only one side portrayed in any detail. This means everything looks one-sided and we never see why people disagree and don't immediately go for the obvious answer.

Unfortunately, because of the ending, we probably won't see any other books in the series that make up for these flaws.

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