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Distress by [Egan, Greg]
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Length: 429 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product description

Product Description

On the utopian, man-made island, Stateless, Nobel Prize winner Violet Mosala is close to solving the greatest problem of her career - the quest for the ultimate Theory of Everything (TOE) is almost over.

Burned out by recording the abuses of biotech for his TV news syndicate, Andrew Worth grabs the chance to follow Violet's story. In contrast the world of theoretical physics seems like an anaesthetised mathematical heaven, where everything is cool and abstract.

He could not have been more wrong. One by one Mosala's rival quantum physicists are disappearing from the scientific summit at Stateless. But why? Is it something to do with Violet herself, or is there some other, more esoteric, force at work undermining the Theory of Everything Conference?

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1231 KB
  • Print Length: 429 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1597805416
  • Publisher: Gollancz (30 December 2010)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004JHY6U0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #305,581 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) 3.9 out of 5 stars 56 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth disguised as "bad" science fiction (with a bad audio-book narration) 8 October 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I tend to describe this book as "truth, disguised as bad sci-fi". And it kind of is both.

I first read this book almost 2 decades ago. At the time I remember it as a nice, solid, near-future sci-fi book. What I remembered most from that first read was just how believable and interesting the genetic engineering aspects of the world were.

I remember thinking to myself that "yes - if biotech is to do in the near future what information-tech did in the near past - this is what it would look like".

Similar to Larry Niven's "Flash Crowd", which is the first realistic description of a society with teleporters I ever saw, this book was the first realistic description of a society with advanced biotech I ever saw.

So that's what I thought about the first time I read it - an enjoyable sci-fi book with good science but bad characters. You know the kind - where all the characters are "too logical" and only exist to explain the science.

Around a decade later, I got an itch to re-read the book. Took me a couple of years to track it down in a second hand book store.

I re-read it - and to my amazement I found that almost all my opinions about society, sexuality, social justice, and "people" in general were in this book. Opinions and views that I thought I developed on my own from observations of the world - I found spelled out almost identical in this book.

Without me realizing it - this book has completely shaped my world view. Even re-reading it, I don't know *how* it did it. The ideas are conveyed... poorly, in the usual manner of sci-fi books, using flat characters and spoon-feedingly-long conversations. Yet there you have it.

I would recommend this book to everyone. Not the audio-book though - that's horrible. Whoever narrated it has no business narrating anything.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars grown up sci fi 13 May 2016
By Sy - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have only recently discovered Greg Egan, and so far I am liking what I am reading. This book was entertaining, but with a few flaws.

It is set in a near future in which political correctness has gone insane, the new religions and cults are based on what we'd call "social issues" or "culture wars": gender fluidity, acceptance or rejection of science, genetic manipulations, even voluntarily autism. These things are new enough to Egan's society that they still cause perplexities and strife.
The protagonist is Andrew, a journalist who specializes in popular science. His next investigation is centered on a scientific conference in which a new Theory of Everything will be announced. It turns out that many cults and groups are involved in this, from those who protest that science is taking the fun and awe out of life (sounds familiar?) to those who claim science is a western instrument of colonialism, to those who want to stop that entire line of scientific inquiry because certain that a Theory of Everything will spell the end of reality, the universe, and everything.

The first part of the book was a page turner, full of interesting ideas and interesting issues that kept me thinking after I put the book down. But things soon get muddy and not very scientific, especially when the book gets bogged down in the relationship between finding the Theory of Everything, and the very existence of reality, which made no sense. It reminded me a bit like the arguments used by peddlers of pseudo-scientific nonsense who try to convince you that quantum entanglement shows PSI is real. It's difficult to care about a story when it's so heavily based on something that doesn't make sense. And I am not talking about suspension of disbelief, which is just fine, but rather the misuse of real concepts to a degree that makes the whole thing too hard to swallow.

The book has some action, but its greatest strength is in the ideas, social issues, philosophical concepts etc. This means there's a great deal of exposition. Some people dislike exposition, personally I am just fine with it if the concepts being discussed are interesting, and most of the concepts in "Distress" are in fact interesting. Because so much attention is given to building this near future society and its issues, less attention is given to character building. I found the protagonist a bit dull, and other characters cold and distant.

Had it been possible, I would have given this book 3 1/2 stars, because while I can't bring myself to give it 4, I feel 3 falls a bit short and makes it seem like I didn't like the book when in fact it was a good read and I have already downloaded another book by this same author. I would say this is a specific kind of Sci-Fi, it's not space opera, it's not breathtaking non stop action, there are no intriguing aliens, or space battles. I would say it's a "grown up" type of Sci-Fi that is meant to be ruminated. Read it slowly, and be prepared to go back and re-read some parts, because if you miss something, you may get lost eventually.
5.0 out of 5 stars The characters are better developed, the story has more dimensions 2 August 2016
By Rp - Published on
Verified Purchase
Of the Greg Egan books I've read this one is the most well rounded in a literary sense. The characters are better developed, the story has more dimensions, and it delves into a wider array of issues familiar to modern society. I does lack the deeper exploration of science and technology like Diaspora and Permutation City (which are fantastically mind blowing and inventive), but that's what makes Distress a nice addition to my growing collection of Egan's work. It trades depth for breadth.
5.0 out of 5 stars Sexuality, understated philosophies, anarchy, biochemistry... All of my favorite things? 4 May 2017
By Jenny - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't know if I'll ever give Greg Egan less than 5 stars. Maybe more philosophy than science and still more science than any other author I've read. It seems that heaven for Egan may be the same as the one I have contemplated myself: understanding.
The exploration of sexuality was both brutal and beautiful. I will make my sisters read this.
Distress was a slower start since I'd come from Schild's Ladder and didn't quite want to be stuck on Earth, but once I got going I was reading through my multivariable calculus class. (Wish me luck on the test...). Thank you Egan for some fresh insights to keep my brain working!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessarily Eganesque 17 November 2016
By Brux - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
No one writes like Greg Egan.

His work delves deeply into themes and ideas that are hard to find in speculative fiction (or any fiction for that matter).
Distress includes explorations into the sociology of physics, the search for a theory of everything, cultures and cults of belief, and how gender and sexuality would change in a world unshackled from physical norms. The story is powerfully thought-provoking and has an added gift: a plot that moves quickly with suspense and a satisfying conclusion.

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