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Schild's Ladder by [Egan, Greg]
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Length: 333 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Cass has stumbled on something that might be an entirely different type of physics, and she's travelled three hundred and fifty light-years to Mimosa Station, a remote experimental facility, to test her theory. The novo-vacuum she creates is predicted to begin decaying the instant it's created, but even so short-lived a microscopic speck could shed new light on the origins of the universe.

But instead of decaying, Cass's novo-vacuum is wildly successful and begins expanding, slowly but inexorably taking over the universe ...

SCHILD'S LADDER: a wild ride through the far future by one of the world's most respected and acclaimed writers.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1106 KB
  • Print Length: 333 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (30 December 2010)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004JHY8C6
  • 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: #286,662 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) 4.0 out of 5 stars 51 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Cyberpunk meets quantum mechanics 16 May 2017
By Pierre - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Unique story of what another creation, another universe, might be like. On another level, it deals with what humanity will be like after transcendence to a post human state. Greg Egan suggests we will be as divisive and polarized as ever, even deceitful, yet also much more humane and compassionate. Oddly enough, our future descendents will be prone to predjudice​, at least when it comes to the decaying flesh sacks that ordinary or previous humans used to be. These cultural assumptions come back to haunt the ascended, who indeed treat alien microbes with more tespect than their unevolved progenitors. This story is like a mixture of Robert Heinlein on extrapolated societies with Rudy Rucker in higher dimensions. Yes, this is definitely hard science fiction. If you find it hard to accept extrapolations from known physics as an acceptable basis for a plot, maybe this kind of adventure is too much to accept. If you like to speculate, then you will enjoy this ride immensely and have no trouble being able to identify with the characters. This is a good story. Keep it!
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Science-Nerd books ever written 21 July 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am giving this 5 stars conditionally...this book is for deep thinking science people only. This is not Star Wars or even Dune. To really get it all you're probably going to need to be a physics professional of some kind. I am a layman who is really into this stuff (watch the shows, read the media) and I only understood about 70% or 80% of what was going on. This book is about the science...the character stories are mildly interesting but the characters are not deep...they are mostly used as a platform to explain life in the future. I did not find myself caring about the characters that much.

That being said, it was a great book. Lots of mind-melting stuff. The centerpiece of the story is a vacuum metastability event that was triggered unintentionally. But a lot of the book is about describing life in the far future (think 20,000 years+). Human sexuality and identity has become almost alien. People can casually backup copies of their consciousness at will and re-organize their physical bodies on a whim (so everyone is more or less immortal...I think this is a big part of why I didn't care about the characters).

If you feel you are pretty familiar with physics, this book will probably be enjoyable, as it explores a lot of stuff you will not find in other science fiction.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great until the final 20% 15 June 2013
By Ben Humberston - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I became a big fan of Greg Egan after first encountering him in Diaspora. I went on to read Permutation City and his short story collection Axiomatic before moving on to Schild's Ladder. If you liked either of those two novels, Schild's Ladder should be similarly enjoyable; his same hallmarks of transhumanism & imaginary theories of physics are here and accounted for. I feel like Egan's writing is at its peak when he combines what could be rather dry scientific ideas with a grounded description of how they matter from a human perspective.

However, without giving too much away, the book switches to a very different thematic mode in the final 20% or so of the book, and Egan suddenly drops nearly all character interactions in favor of a grinding description of a scientific observational journey. If you read Diaspora, this end-game mechanic may sound familiar; however, I feel that he was still able to sensibly intermix character development and emotional themes in that instance. Here, the human plot comes to a screeching halt and the book reads more like a description of an exotic safari trip.

I can't say it's unlike Egan to do this; he clearly has a deep fascination with both physical theories and biological systems. It would seem that this final section was meant to be a triumphant culmination of all the possibilities hinted at earlier in the book. Unfortunately, the writing is just a chore to slog through; I actually had to give up at 95% completion (and I'm really not one to quit on a book lightly, especially when I'm so near the end). I'll finish eventually, perhaps, but this section has thoroughly defused my interest in how the book ends for now.

Of note, I actually started & finished Egan's "Quarantine" while avoiding finishing this book, so I would recommend giving that a go if you have the same difficulties with the end of Schild's Ladder :).
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just for Quantum Physicists. 1 July 2016
By Chauncey - Published on
Verified Purchase
Greg Egan's future is logical and thoroughly imagined. This was a bit of a tough one to get into, but by half-way through I was hooked. This is the first "hard SF" I've read, and it wasn't too incomprehensible. Mr. Egan does well to explain the quantum concepts in ways that layman (like myself) can understand. There are also many helpful and entertaining analogies to assist with imagining some of the more foreign concepts.

I certainly plan on reading more from this author. His take on the future is the best I've read, and the stories he crafts are full of all the twists and emotions one would expect from a great novel.
3.0 out of 5 stars Yeah, it's very technical, but so what? 17 May 2013
By gamer - Published on
Verified Purchase
Greg Egan may be a good mathematician and physicist, but he is a noticeably poor writer. Scientific accomplishment and writing ability do not seem to go together. Science fiction seems to be written by Scientist first, Author second. Or worse, Author first, discovery channel knowledge of the universe second. It really is too bad that someone who is a good writer couldn't partner with an accomplished, creative scientist. I imagine their egos would prevent it, though.

I got the book primarily because reviewers said that its concepts were esoteric and difficult, and the author didn't simplify complex physics to the point where science fiction and fantasy become the same genre. It is a must for me for a science fiction author to have a comprehensive grasp of their subject matter as well as a reasonable understanding of all scientific fields. Then, this author must have a story to tell and be bounded by scientific realities. The science should not drive the story, but should enhance and enrich it.

Greg Egan's book seemed very gimicky to me. He pushes all boundaries of science. For example, going 99.9999 percent the speed of light, so people must travel for centuries and become immortal. Quantum computers record people's minds every fraction of a second so no one dies. People are still biological, but can instruct their bodies to change sex. These things don't just add to the story, I think they are the story. I found it depressing and dystopic because it was just so egotistic and pointless and I didn't really find much enjoyable about it.

That may have been a conscious point, I haven't read other books by Egan. The plot involves creating a bubble universe, so the theme is that the entire universe is known, no alien life has been found apart from microbes, humanity is eternal and decadent, and the thrill of a possible apocalypse is weighed against a billion years of the same 'ol. The nature of the apocalypse, versus the sterility of egan's universe does seem to be a motif, but the journey the author has us take was tedious. The wondrous and the mundane became the same thing. Again, I don't know if this is unique to Schild's ladder or just Egan's unique writing style.

It is so hard to find good science fiction, so I may read another Greg Egan novel and hope that the flaws were really just motifs.

For me, the science wasn't overly daunting, but the reader should know some modern physics, such as what a special unitary group means. Other than the geek appeal of the math and physics, I don't know if Schild's ladder is an interesting enough concept for this to be worth your time.

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