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The Clockwork Rocket: Orthogonal Book One by [Egan, Greg]
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The Clockwork Rocket: Orthogonal Book One Kindle Edition

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Length: 345 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

In Yalda's universe, light has mass, no universal speed, and its creation generates energy; on Yalda's world, plants make food by emitting light into the dark night sky. And time is different: an astronaut might measure decades passing while visiting another star, only to return and find that just weeks have elapsed for her friends.

On the farm where she lives, Yalda sees strange meteors that are entering the planetary system at an immense, unprecedented speed - and it soon becomes apparent that more of this ultra-fast material is appearing all the time, putting her world in terrible danger. An entire galaxy is about to collide with their own.

There is one hope: a fleet sent straight towards the approaching galaxy, as fast as possible. Though it will feel like weeks back home, on board, millennia will pass before the collision, time enough to raise new generations, and time enough to find a way to stop the ultra-fast material.

Either way, they have a chance to save everyone back on the home world.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3549 KB
  • Print Length: 345 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (15 September 2011)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005IYIBG8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #66,287 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Greg Egan is a master of interpreting exceptionally difficult concepts of physics so the average reader can glimpse the complexity of the universe.
In this novel, Greg Egan has started with the concept 'What if there were 2 orthogonal dimensions of time' and explores all the physical implications that would present.
In what has become standard fashion for Egan, he introduces us to an alien species with a pre-einstein understanding of physics and works through the experiments and revelations that lead to their eventual salvation.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I have the physical copy at home and I'm trying to get rid of it. i tried, I really did to get into this book. I might have as well if i was interested in physics but I'm not. I could not finish this book. I got up to the point where they were trying to blow up a mountain into space and i damn well fell asleep.

I as you. how can reading about a bunch of alien creatures blow up a mountain into space be boring? Trust me, the author did it pretty well.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 3.5 out of 5 stars 45 reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 20 August 2011
By Durand - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An original SF novel, for sure. The problem, though, is that I often had to jump between the novel and the online appendices to figure out what the protagonist was talking about. I don't have a strong physics or math background, but I think I did a good job of deciphering most of what was going on, although certainly not all of it. However I probably spent as much time on the online supplemental material as the actual novel. My partner was shaking her head and saying: "So you're researching imaginary physics?" Well, yeah, a man needs a hobby, eh.
In some respects it was a satisfying novel. There was a sense of wonder in seeing how Yalda's universe behaved with its altered laws and the engineering difficulties this posed. As a novel, though, it wasn't entirely satisfying. The secondary theme involving Holin and the bizarre physiology of the alien protagonists seemed less than necessary and didn't really ring any emotional bells for me. Also, the novel often felt like an appendix to a physics thesis on the physics of an alternative universe. Sort of like a narrated guide through the effects of the physics of this world rather than a compelling novel in its own right.
Having said that, I recommend it (the kindle price is a bargain) if only because there really isn't anything like it in SF at present. Just be prepared (if your physics and math background isn't up to par) to spend quite a bit of time staring at the supplemental material to figure out what is going on in the novel.

Durand Welsh
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars difficult read 23 February 2013
By Owen Roberts - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wow, you really have to admire the lengths Egan will go to for a novel. I thought Incandescence was pretty hardcore, and Schild's Ladder was there too. Where in Incandescence he explains general relativity as the characters discover it for themselves from basic experimentation, and in Schild's Ladder he builds on existing Quantum Theory, in The Clockwork Rocket (and soon parts 2 and 3) he proposes a whole new universe where the laws of physics are subtly yet vastly different. For a near complete explanation of these new laws of physics, you can have a look at his extensive web site on it.
As in Incandescence the reader discovers the universe through the characters experiments and discoveries. Essentially light can travel at different speeds depending on its wavelength and the ramifications are pretty weird. Following the theory is very difficult and I got lost quite a bit, but you have to remember it's a novel, and you are not studying at university, and to just try to enjoy the ride. Familiar Egan territory.
Yes, Egan is amazing and produces such massive depth and such incredibly different ideas in SF, but I'm not sure I enjoyed this as much as I would have liked. The explaining of physics through the experiments of the characters was interesting once, and while very different, still somehow very similar. If that makes sense. There were lots of really cool ideas along the way though such as the reproduction cycle of the 'people' and how it affected their society and reflections on our society I guess.
Brilliant and amazing and wondrous, but somehow also a little flat.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 1 February 2016
By Daniel Froehlich - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Greg Egan sets up his universe by changing a single minus sign in the metric of spacetime to a plus sign, making time act like a spatial dimension, and then he goes from there. Literally, he has an entire section of his website dedicated to extensive exploration of the physical ramifications of this change, and how different the universe ends up.

This whole trilogy, "Orthogonal", was very fun to read. This first book sets everything up for the later two, in terms of plot, setting, etc.

I greatly recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful 1 November 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book (and its sequel 'Eternal Flame') is one-of-a-kind book. Never before has there been a science-fiction book describing an alien Universe with that level of detail. Sure, universes with different sets of physical laws are a staple of sci-fi (Asimov's "The Gods Themselves" is a good example). But this time the author takes us through a VERY detailed discovery of effects resulting from the postulated laws, through the eyes and mind of alien scientists.

It all starts with simple Newtonian physics which quickly turns out to be a corner case of the local "Special Relativity". Then it progresses to thermodynamics (it's extremely bizarre but consistent). The second book ("Eternal Flame") deals with quantum mechanics which turns out to be not so different from ours: it covers discovery of photo-effect, quantization, antimatter and spin, etc.

A really great companion to these books would be "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes which describes the progression of science from pre-atomic era (before the reliable confirmations of existence atoms) to quantum mechanics and nuclear physics. If anything, it becomes clear that aliens in Greg Egan's books are much smarter than us, puny humans :)

Caveat: it might be a bit hard to read these books without at least some knowledge of physics.
57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fictional Science is the best of Science Fiction 6 July 2011
By PAL3 - Published on
Verified Purchase
One of the most daring authors in the field, Greg Egan may have just published his most ambitious and accomplished work yet. "Clockwork Rocket" brings readers a new kind of science fiction in which the laws of physics themselves are fictionalized.

Set in another universe where light does not travel at a constant speed but instead has a velocity that depends on its wavelength, Clockwork Rocket recounts the personal life journey of an inhabitant in this fictional universe. Born into a simple but loving rural family, Yalda eventually has an opportunity to go to school (not something that everyone gets to do in her society). The reader shares Yalda's experiences as she asks deeper and deeper questions about her world and how it all fits together. Along the way she becomes one of the eminent scholars of her generation. Egan skillfully describes some of the subtleties of scientific discovery and manages to impart a sense of wonder whenever Yalda finds and fits a new piece of the puzzle that is her universe.

The parallels between Yalda's society and western society are plentiful enough that we don't feel lost. (There's even an ancient philosopher, Meconio, to serve the role that our own ancient Aristotle serves in our world.) However enough differences exist to allow Egan some avenues for thoughtful social commentary. What makes this book unique is that it manages to accomplish the same thing with physical laws to provide a kind of "physical commentary"!

Egan has a gift for distilling mathematical ideas down to their essence and that gift shines brightly in this book. He manages to cover many of the essential parts of how our world works and (I think) does it better than any physics text book I've read. He then goes further by using these physical laws, true in our world and Yalda's, to build from them a physics that is not ours. The resulting physical system is simpler than "real" physics allowing the reader to experience the rushing sensation of going from high school to advanced graduate level physics in the space of only some 300 pages. It's like a "skydive for the intellect" and is immensely satisfying and thrilling. By the end of the story we haven't just been told a story but we've been guided through a new system of physics that, for all its weirdness, is simple and seemingly consistent!

If you've ever wanted to know what it might be like to discover something like Einstein's Theory of Relativity yourself then you'll definitely enjoy this book. If you're familiar with the history of science in our world then you'll appreciate when similar issues unfold in Yalda's. If you're just wondering what a universe with a different set of physical laws might look like then this book is for you.

And if this isn't enough for you there's also a host of interesting characters along the way; a world threatened by extinction; a massive emergency space travel effort to save the world; sabotage; intrigue; and a trip into the fourth dimension. Oh yeah, and there really is a clockwork rocket!

If all you are looking for is some easy prose that you can skim through and then forget in a couple of weeks then this book is not for you. (Might I suggest something in the "fantasy" genre?) "Clockwork Rocket" is a book to read, ponder, and reread. You will never forget it. You will use its lessons every time you look around our own world and wonder "Why do things happen *this* way?"

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