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Schild's Ladder

Greg Egan

Average Review Rating Average Rating 4/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Victor Gollancz

Published : 2002

Copyright : Greg Egan 2002

ISBN-10 : HB 0-575-07068-4
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-575-07068-4

Publisher's Write-Up

For twenty thousand years, every observable phenomenon in the universe has been successfully explained by the Sarumpaet Rules.

Now Cass has stumbled on a set of quantum graphs that might comprise the fundamental particles of an entirely different kind of physics, and she has travelled three hundred and seventy light-years to Mimosa Station, a remote experimental facility, in the hope of bringing this tantalising alternative to life. The 'novo-vacuum' is predicted to begin decaying the instant its created, but even a short-lived, microscopic speck could shed light on the origins of the universe.

Cass's experiment turns out to be wildly successful: the nova-vacuum is more stable than the ordinary vacuum around it, and a region in which the new physics holds sway proceeds to expand out from Mimosa at half the speed of light.

Six hundred years later, more than two thousand inhabited systems have been lost to the novo-vacuum. On board the RINDLER, people have come from throughout inhabited space to study the phenomenon. Most are Preservationists, hunting for a way to turn back the tide, but a few belong to another faction, the Yielders, who believe that the challenge of adapting to survive on the far side of the border would reinvigorate a civilisation that has grown stale and insular.

Tchicaya has come to the RINDLER as a Yielder, but when Mariama, a childhood friend who inspired him to abandon his own home world and traditions for a life of travel, arrives soon after, he is shocked to discover that she wants to destroy the novo-vacuum.

As a theoretical breakthrough reveals the true richness of the world behind the border, tensions between the opposing factions grow. Then a splinter group responds with violent, unilateral action, and Tchicaya and Mariama are forced into an uneasy alliance, travelling together through the border, balancing old and new loyalties against the fate of two incomparably different universes.

'One of the genre's great ideas men.'

The Times

'It is one of Greg Egan's great skills that he makes the passion of science appear understandable, even inevitable, to non-scientists.'


'One of the finest and most interesting writers.'

The Alien Has Landed

'Fiercely original and a clever craftsman... one of the genre's most consistently brilliant ideas men.'

Infinity Plus

'Achieves what the fiction of ideas should always aspire to.'

Modern Review

'Greg Egan is the 21st century's most important SF writer. SCHILD'SLADDER is an epic adventure founded on the true science of the future. This is a book none could have written before, and only Egan could write now. Read Egan today, because it's what everybody else will be reading tomorrow.'

Stephen Baxter
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nigel (011002) Rating (4/10)

Review by Nigel
Rating 4/10
It pains me to say this since Greg Egan would appear quite high up on my list of favourite authors, but I found this novel tiresome and dull.

At times the story read like a textbook and in my opinion delved too deeply into the mathematical theory behind the book's premise. I have said before that Science Fiction is a genre that provides an author unlimited scope for discussion and that Greg Egan is one of the best proponents of this I have ever read. I truly believe that at some future date his ideas will hold the same awe as our wonder at H G Wells's insights at the beginning of the 20th century. However, at the end of the day, I'm reading a novel to be entertained and I'm afraid Schild's Ladder fails this basic requirement.

I will, however, be buying the next as soon as it is published, since anyone with a mind like Greg Egan's deserves to be heard... even if at times it can be a little grating :).
Nigel (1st October 2002)

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