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Permutation City [Hardcover]

Greg Egan
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 April 1994
This is an exploration of the nature of consciousness and the mind, in a future time where artificial life and immortality are detonating human society.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (14 April 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185798174X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857981742
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,726,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Greg Egan lives in Perth, Western Australia. He has won the John W. Campbell award for Best Novel and has been short listed for the Hugo three times.

Product Description

Amazon Review

What would happen if you could copy your memories and personality into a computer generated universe, live there, and return? Greg Egan, author of Quarantine explores the possibilities in this suspenseful book. Battles rage on different levels as computer personalities on a locked chip fight to escape. Meanwhile sticky legal questions are raised in the real world. Think about the copyright laws, and what about the legal rights of computer programs? --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Greg Egan is a computer programmer, and the author of the acclaimed SF novels The Arrows of Time, Distress, Diaspora, Quarantine, Permutation City, and Teranesia. He has won the Hugo Award as well as the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. His short fiction has been published in a variety of places, including Interzone, Asimov's, and Nature. He lives in Perth, Australia. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
Paul Durham opened his eyes, blinking at the room's unexpected brightness, then lazily reached out to place one hand in a patch of sunlight at the edge of the bed. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly imaginative, but the ending is flawed 22 April 2000
Set in the mid 21st century, this sci-fi novel, like Egan's later novel Diaspora, ties together many fascinating scientific and metaphysical ideas in a single book (The emphasis is very definitely on the "sci"). However, unlike Diaspora, there is a strong central theme underlying the story, a baffling idea called the "Dust theory". Any attempt to describe that theory here would be pointless, but I can say that it compels the reader to ponder some fundamental questions about the nature of reality. The theory is completely absurd yet not all that easy to refute. It has certainly caused me a few headaches... The dust theory is motivated and explained via another key theme in both this book and Diaspora - the concept of having a human "download" his mind onto a computer. Aside from the suspension of disbelief required in order to accept that such a thing is possible, Egan presents us with a well-thought-out and plausible scenario regarding these downloaded humans or "copies".
There are several other themes, of lesser importance, but fascinating in their own right, notably the "Autoverse": A piece of software that allows you to have complete control over your own virtual mini-universe - a world capable of modelling objects as complex as bacteria, down to the level of individual atoms.
Well that's the sci part. The human story behind all this doesn't have much intrinsic interest - the characters are vehicles for the ideas, and often one gets the impression that it is Egan who is speaking, not the character (they all seem to be uncannily good at making detached, intelligent comments on whatever is happening). This aspect didn't really bother me, as I think the ideas deserved some detached, intelligent commentary anyway.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Complex but compelling. 19 Oct 2008
In the near future humans can have their personalities scanned and stored in computers so that after they eventually die the Copies can be activated and can live on in an artificial virtual environment. However there are a few down sides to this sort-of-immortality. You have a dependency on computers which can only run at certain speeds and of course Earth and the universe will not last forever so your immortality is going to be limited.

Enter Paul Durham, a man obsessed with creating a sanctuary which will give Copies geniune immortality for all eternity...

Permutation City is a novel full of big ideas which made my head hurt quite a bit while reading it. Several times I felt I had just got the gist of it and then another huge idea was slathered on top so I felt I was eating an impossible sandwich full of techno jargon and which upon eating was probably going to give me heart burn.

I am not a huge science head. I don't claim to be. I read this book because it was for a book group I'm a member of. At the end was I glad I had read it? Yes. Did I feel like I had got something out of it even though I didn't understand everything? Yes. Would I read another Egan book? Possibly.

On the whole this is a fascinating book but be prepared to feel stupid whilst reading it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing 10 Jun 2001
By A Customer
In the twenty first century it has become possible to noninvasively scan a human brain and implement the resulting data on a computer: Copies of human beings are alive and well in virtual reality.
Few science fiction writers can run as far with the implications as Greg Egan. Copies are just the premise, and before long we are in much deeper waters as one man begins to question the fundamental nature of reality. It's a magnificent exploration of the true implications of computationalism. If you feel the same when you're scanned and run on a supercomputer, would it feel the same to be run on a billion abacus over a billion years? To be accidentally implemented by the random shuffling of atoms across countless universes? Go read it and feel your mind boggle.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, read it and then think. 29 April 2000
By A Customer
This book introduces the concept of running 'Copies' of people on computers on the very 1st page. But it is about so much more than Artificial Inteligence. Greg Egan explores concepts of existance and consciousness that I never knew existed.
This is just a SF book, but it has still changed my perspective of the world.
Read it and then think.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous, inspiring and magical 15 Sep 1999
By A Customer
I read this book in 1994. It still crops up daily in my mind. What would you do if your soul was offered immortality? Would you accept the offer? If not, why? And if you do, how would you spend the rest of eternity? There are passages in the book that I find I live my life by. I don't want to give the plot away - but if you are at all interested in the riddle of where the border between external and internal reality lies you will enjoy this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Permutation city' Greg Egan 17 Jun 2004
In 'Permutation City' Egan contrasts the most utterly convincing techno mysticism, with a forensic inquiry into identity that will leave you unable to speak. This is a thoughful book that's interested in it's reader only in so far as it explores the possiblity of redemption, while teasing our obsession for escape. You can not but suspend your disbelief, but this a book that won't return the favour; leaving you forever spoil for writers of other stuff.
Note: it's not necessary to be familiar with cellular automaton, but if you are interested see Stephen Wolfram, A New Kind of Science, Wolfram Media Incorporated.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What a book
If you are a lover of thought provoking science fiction then this book is for you. Beautiful read that sets the imagination running wild.
Published 3 months ago by Danny Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Why haven't I heard of Egan until now?
Permutation City is a brilliant book I can highly recommend to any scifi fan who has an interest in scientific and philosophical themes. Read more
Published 3 months ago by CloseToCircular
5.0 out of 5 stars Wrenched and Torn
I actually had a tear in my eye reading the final scene in this book... and if you ever get there you'll understand how strangely ironic that is. Read more
Published 15 months ago by robert
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Arrived earlier than expected in great condition - looked like it hadn't been touched! Slight crease on the spine but that's pretty normal, could even happen to a book in the book... Read more
Published 23 months ago by kza
3.0 out of 5 stars More philosophy than story
I found this to be more a philosophical investigation of virtual reality than a story that exposes concepts. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Nick
5.0 out of 5 stars Sci-fi at its best!
This is what all hard sci-fi should be like - brilliant. I full of great concepts and ideas, Greg Egan is a very intelligent ideas man - and this is jam-packed full of great ideas... Read more
Published on 6 Dec 2011 by TalkingAfricanApe
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking
In this book Greg Egan packages together a series of interesting thought experiments with a gripping narrative. Read more
Published on 25 Feb 2011 by David Clarke
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning - and even better the second time you read it
This is not just sci-fi. It's a philosophical masterpiece.

If the following terms mean something to you, then you will absolutely love this book. Read more
Published on 29 May 2010 by MarkM
5.0 out of 5 stars !!!Concept Vertigo!!!
Firstly; watch out for plot spoiler reviews!!
(it's not a mystery tour if you know where your heading)

Egan's work is 'Hard' Sci-Fi of the highest order. Read more
Published on 11 Jan 2010 by numpty
1.0 out of 5 stars Great Idea ................Poorly Executed
The writing is laboured and uninspiring. I was very dissapointed with this attempt especially as I had read his short stories which are excellent.
Published on 19 Jun 2009 by William McLanachan
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