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review 2017-06-03 13:54
Frog in a Pot of Cold Water Over the Fire: "The Four Thousand, The Eight Hundred" by Greg Egan
The Four Thousand, the Eight Hundred - Greg Egan,Dominic Harman

After reading the latest Egan’s work, I got thinking about the Caribbean Islands. I understand that the Caribbean Islands were discovered by successive explorers from Europe. I understand that Slaves from Africa were taken to these Islands as were White Indentured Workers, a polite name for White Slaves, by the people that had purchased Estates on these Islands. In this process the Indigenous peoples of these Islands the Carib Indians were to all intents and purposes wiped out, so for people of African descent to claim that they have a right to present day Islands is a nonsense. Drawing a parallel with the two factions in Egan’s work, I do not deny it benefited some people, but don't kid ourselves that it boosted the living standards of the ordinary people. This myth was invented back in the 50's or 60's by some Caribbean professor to give those of African descent a sense of grievance against those that imported their ancestors, mind you he stopped short of saying that it was their fellow Africans that enslaved them in the first place. I suspect the feeling of distrust is true of all Countries, it’s well known and it’s called Xenophobia. That’s what a stake in Egan’s piece using the trappings of SF.

 

if you are into SF, read on.

 

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review 2016-11-21 08:25
"I seriously need to hear that this can't happen."
The Four Thousand, the Eight Hundred - Greg Egan

The Four Thousand, The Eight Hundred

 

by Greg Egan

 

Egan is one of my go-to authors for thought-provoking stories. He has a gift for bringing "what-if" questions to life, and his novella The Four Thousand, The Eight Hundred is no exception. The story alternates between the asteroids Vesta and Ceres. Centuries ago, when Vesta was colonized, the Sivadier syndicate brought only intellectual property rather than material goods. Members of the New Dispensation Movement see an injustice that they seek to redress by leveraging an increased tax on the descendants of the Sivadiers. No matter how insane Vestan resident Camille finds it, the NDM is gaining popularity:

"If the majority believe that they're the victims of injustice, it doesn't matter what the adjudicators say."

The Four Thousand, The Eight Hundred is one of those stories that I found thought-provoking in ways that I'm not sure the author intended. The core issue for the NDM is reparations: they want the Sivadiers to pay for what their ancestors did. In an era where the subject is very much in the public consciousness, Egan circumvents the real issues of reparation to create a strawman where the aggrieved are clearly out of line, a world away from the questions of systemic inequality broached today.

"A tiny group of vexatious litigants, powered by nothing but their own limitless sense of entitlement."

Intentionally or not, this emphasizes what I believe to be the true role of reparations: to repair, to give new generations equal footing, to ensure that the injustices of the past do not continue to reverberate into the future.

The Sivadier descendants on Vesta are left with a terrible choice: pay the extortionate tax and accept a lessening of dignity, or fight. And if they fight, what actions can they take that will not contribute to an existential threat that will make them want to wipe us out ? If neither terrorism nor capitulation will help, what options are left? As both sides become increasingly angry, how can anyone prevent the escalation?

On Ceres, Anna is facing her own moral dilemma, a truly diabolical instance of the Trolley Problem, and that's where the story truly shines. As she puts it:

"We have a special name, here, for a certain kind of failure to defer to the greater good-- for putting a personal sense of doing right above any objective measure of the outcome. It's called 'moral vanity.' On Ceres, it's about the worst thing you can be accused of."

It is in this philosophical forced choice that the story truly shines. While The Four Thousand, The Eight Hundred took me less than an hour to read, the questions it provoked stayed with me far longer, and what higher praise can there be?

I received this book through Netgalley from the publisherSubterranean Press, in exchange for my honest review. Quotes were taken from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the final phrasing.

~~Cross-posted on Goodreads.~~

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text 2016-04-11 13:21
Mam na zbyciu kilka książek:
Diaspora - Michał Jakuszewski,Greg Egan
Samotny mężczyzna - Christopher Isherwood,Jan Zieliński
Sprawa osobista - Kenzaburō Ōe

- Diaspora

- Samotny mężczyzna

- Sprawa osobista

- Słownik japońsko-polski 12 000 haseł

 

Link do allegro.

Zapraszam. :)

 

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review 2016-03-30 00:00
Diaspora
Diaspora - Greg Egan Pronouns are a difficult part of the language to change, say the linguists. Nouns, easy. Verbs, easy enough. It took me a little while to get used to ve/vis/ver, but I eventually got the hang of it. But that was only the beginning. I would suggest that to read this book you need to be very adept at quickly learning language. The overwhelming number of new terms and ideas made this book challenging, but I accepted that particular challenge.

This book begins with the formation of identity itself. It was fascinating, watching how human-like minds are created in a transhuman world. The machine smashes together hundreds of variables to create a new person. Once I got over all the new terms, I enjoyed this part. I found myself telling other scifi readers about it.

But from there, the plot completely disappears. This new identity, Yatima, goes to chat with a character that was never mentioned before and isn't introduced at all... about a math problem, essentially. It's random and seemingly pointless. The characters seem to have very little motivation to do much of anything because of their transhuman nature. This was odd to me, because the synopsis I read on Kindle sounded promising.

After sticking with it a little while longer, I found I could never distinguish between different types of people, whether they were in cyberspace or meatspace (or if there's even a difference in this universe), and how they got from place to place.

With a million different terms, a lack of clear plot direction in the beginning, and a missing setting, I gave up on this book.

So I suppose you'll need to be a HUGE lover of hard science fiction to really latch on to this book. And you'll really need to love math. This book is all about the idea, and leaves everything else behind.

You guys know I love scifi, but I need concrete characters, plot, and setting to grab me. This book had none of the above. I wonder if this is what regular scifi feels like to non-scifi readers.
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-12-31 17:00
The Arrows of Time - Greg Egan
The Arrows of Time - Greg Egan

The third and last book in Egan's Orthogonal trilogy, The Arrows of Time sees tensions mounting aboard the generation ship the Peerless (again), as a new messaging system is devised which can bring news from the future. A large minority of those aboard feel for one reason or another that this is a Bad Thing: that their freedom of choice has been taken away and their paths mapped out unalterably. When the disagreement begins to evolve into violence, a small crew is sent out to a distant planet to find out if it's inhabitable, with the idea that the so-called anti-messagers might be moved there to save the ship from destruction.

 

It's a book about free will, and it reveals the overall theme of the trilogy: the right of a sentient being (the characters of Egan's trilogy aren't human) to translate their will into action, a right which Egan sees as facilitated by science and by doing science.

 

I actually found it quite boring. The feminist issues which gave the first two books such contextual urgency are markedly absent, replaced by a sort of vague discussion of the default Issue of the moment, terrorism, a discussion undermined by the fact that the saboteurs preparing to bomb the messaging system are so unequivocally in the wrong (Egan makes it clear that they're using much more explosive than is actually needed to take out the system). It's also not resolved particularly helpfully: male and female become, by the end of the book, folded into one; there's no attempt to, e.g., work out everyone's differences among themselves.

 

The lack of plot interest also means that the physics sections become that much more interminable; I suppose it would be possible just to skim them, but unfortunately I'm one of those readers who has to read every word, thoroughly.

 

A disappointing end to the series. I'm still unconvinced that this actually needed to be a series: The Clockwork Rocket was a fantastic book which would have stood perfectly well on its own.

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