Distress

Distress

Greg Egan

Language: English

Publisher: Eos

Published: Jan 7, 1998

Words: 122254
Pages: 473

Description:

Amazon.com Review After developing a lengthy exposé on "frankenscience," SeeNet reporter Andrew Worth is burnt out. So burnt that he passes up a plum assignment covering the new disease "Distress." Instead, he asks for a lower-key job profiling Violet Mosala, a scientist who earned a Nobel Prize at the age of 25 and who is about to announce her version of the Theory of Everything. The TOE is an attempt to explain how all scientific theories fit together, but it may actually be the catalyst that created the universe, making Violet the "Keystone" of the universe. So much for the quiet assignment ... From Kirkus Reviews About 60 years from now, SeeNet journalist and narrator Andrew Worth (he has a camera and computer software hardwired into his body) muscles in on a colleague's assignment to cover a physics convention on the artificial coral island, Stateless, at which Nobel laureate Violet Mosala is expected to announce a watertight Theory of Everything (TOE). The event, however, is complicated by the presence of several noisy anti-science cult groups--among them the mysterious and secretive Anthrocosmologists who believe that whoever first formulates the TOE will become the Keystone in which the completed TOE, mingling information theory with particle physics, will actually change the structure of the universe. Andrew's Anthrocosmology contact, Akili Kuwale, a ``gender migrant'' (s/he has no breasts or sexual organs), warns that a particularly violent, extreme faction intends to assassinate Violet to prevent the Aleph Moment when the completed TOE's effects kick in. Soon, Andrew falls sick--the extremists have infected him, intending that he pass the virus on to Violet; she falls ill, but has arranged for supercomputers to complete her calculations and disseminate the results. As the extremists redouble their violent efforts, Stateless's former owners send mercenaries to recapture the island, while a sort of reverse echo of the Aleph Moment results in a wave of mass insanity, or Distress, whose victims apparently have all turned into Keystones! Challenging, well informed, and iconoclastic, but also abstruse and often heavy: admirable rather than enjoyable, but an impressive first hardcover nonetheless. -- *Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.