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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard SF with a human angle
I think this is Egan's best novel; that makes it compulsory if you like science fiction, but it deserves to be read by the widest possible audience. Although he is best known for high-concept, hard science fiction, here he has found a superb balance between characterisation, plot and science.
Some have criticised the satire of postmodernism in this book as...
Published on 13 May 2002

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite Egan as we knew him
Teranesia is a calmer work than any of Egan's previous works. The first sections of the book deal with the protagonist's early life on a scientific/tropical paradise, moving on, very abruptly, to later years in Canada and then back to the original island.
In this book, Egan replaces long, introspective monologues on the meaning of reality, but unfortunately...
Published on 10 Sept. 1999


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard SF with a human angle, 13 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Teranesia (Paperback)
I think this is Egan's best novel; that makes it compulsory if you like science fiction, but it deserves to be read by the widest possible audience. Although he is best known for high-concept, hard science fiction, here he has found a superb balance between characterisation, plot and science.
Some have criticised the satire of postmodernism in this book as heavy-handed. Personally I find it spot on; anyone who is familiar with the Sokal hoax or Sadie Plant's oeuvre will see what he's getting at.
That aside, the history and psychology of the main character are worthy of any literary novelist. The McGuffin driving the plot is very clever and plausibly grounded in real science as with most of Egan's fiction. The novel builds to a conclusion which, in a perverse way, celebrates the best of humanity while commenting wryly on the human condition.
Even if you're not normally interested in science fiction, I strongly urge you to read this book. If you like literary authors playing at doing science (like David Lodge's "Thinks" or Jeanette Winterson's "Gut Symmetries"), why not try an SF author who can write?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good science, better literature, 3 Oct. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Teranesia (Paperback)
I've never read anything by Egan before, so I didn't know what to expect. Well, I'll be looking out for him in future. Teranesia is the name for a Malaysian island given by Prabir, the son of two Indian biologists trying to uncover the secrets of genetic mutation in a population of butterflies. Set against continued political trouble in the region into the next decade, the story relates the personal guilt and anguish that Prabir, a nine year old boy who successfully escapes the island with his baby sister, carries with him into his thirties. By the end of the novel, the roles are reversed: young sister manages to save older brother and whisk him from the island, this time from a far more dreadful threat than that of air-delivered mines. As Prabir and his sister, Mudhusree, travel back to the island the butterflies are made to speak their ugly truth. Bascially, a gene capable of reading all the quantum histories of possible mutations has taken root on the island and that means it anticipates its own evolution. And survives. Just like the two central characters whose frail and battered humanity emerges all the more strong for that. This is surely how science fiction should be written - a grand idea wrapped in the grander enigmas of being human. Even if at times the characterisation can get a little overbearing, the relationships between characters a little trite, Egan weaves us a tale about guilt which will only fail to reach the most unfeeling of androids. Simply superb.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite Egan as we knew him, 10 Sept. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Teranesia (Paperback)
Teranesia is a calmer work than any of Egan's previous works. The first sections of the book deal with the protagonist's early life on a scientific/tropical paradise, moving on, very abruptly, to later years in Canada and then back to the original island.
In this book, Egan replaces long, introspective monologues on the meaning of reality, but unfortunately doesn't really replace it. When a child, the protagonist deals with emotion by alterring the narrative's reality: inventing monsters, completely avoiding mention of his 'guilty secret', and denying what happened to his family. However, for a boy who is supposed to be very inquisitive and clever, these holes just cry out.
Egan's pot-shots at post-modern critical theory - although an admirable aim - again fall wide of the mark, making the author look ludicrous and petty as well as his targets.
The book gets a lot better towards the end, with realistic emotional rendering and science (at last!) getting a look-see. The theory he presents as the central idea is interesting, but not developed enough. Other science and technology just seems to be lobbed on at points, with characters expounding an explanation at ludicrously unrealistic points.
It feels, to me, that this book is actual a novella padded; not cynically, but as an exercise. Egan's style improves, but at the expense of the sense-of-wonder that many people expect of him. Now, just to combine the two...
All in all, a reasonably good read, and some ideas are there. One to be appreciated with the support of his other works, but not standing as high.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still no Breakout from the Science Fiction ghetto, 14 Feb. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Teranesia (Paperback)
This is probably Greg Egan's most accessible book for readers without the SF habit. It displays more of the conventional "literary" values than his other works, while at the same time being science fictional to the core. The satire of contemporary culture is spot on, which may explain the novel's mysterious neglect by mainstream critics. Greg Egan seems to be that rare thing, a novelist who actually lives in the same world as modern science.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Greg Egan is the most important Hard SF Writer of the 1990's, 18 Aug. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Teranesia (Hardcover)
I have just read this book, and I have mixed feelings (as per usual!!!) about novels by Greg Egan.
Do not get me wrong, Greg Egan is the most important new Hard SF short story writer of the 1990's, stories like The Infinite Assassin, The Cutie, Unstable orbits in the space of lies and Learning to be me are seminal texts.
However Greg in his novels decides that instead of being an Hard SF writer, he would like to be a novelist of character. I just do not believe in his characters!!!
Thankfully, you will alway get funny shorts like this
If this gene does spread, wouldn't it be neat, though? All the animals would evolve: they'd grow hand, and opposable thumbs, and we could talk to them. And if it happened to us too, we'd become telepathic. That's the next level right? Anf why keep it out of the ocean? What's wrong with you people? Don't you want the reefs to dream? the super dolphins won't stop us surfing. They'll be our friends!
For that alone I would read This novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another tour de force by Egan, 27 Sept. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Teranesia (Hardcover)
Once again, another engaging, witty and mind-expanding book from Greg Egan. The characters are engaging, the settings detailed, and as usual the main premise is mind-bending. Along the way, Egan takes the time to prick the pomposity of post-modern waffle - for example, the proposal for gender reassignment for the 0's and 1's used in computers is so completely hatstand that I'm tempted to believe he lifted it verbatim from some post-modern journal. Although it lacks the multi-universal scope of, say, Diaspora, Teranesia benefits from being more focused, and tends to expand your brain rather than making it whimper in a corner of your skull, overawed by the sheer scale of things. Egan proves himself once more, as if further proof were needed, to be at the forefront of modern hard SF.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Evolution gone crazy, 23 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Teranesia (Mass Market Paperback)
Egan fans will go for this book. It has his usual hard science (this time in an accelerated evolutionary context) with plenty of explanations laid on, and a good deal of persuasive speculation. Non-fans might have less to complain about than in earlier books, with some solid character development here. We follow our protagonist from childhood- he grows up far from perfect, with a series of influences, first tragic then hilarious (Egan's portrayal of cyberfeminist discourse is a rare treat). The plot moves swiftly, without ever giving too much away until the very end, where things deviate a little from Egan's normal patern- to say more would spoil things. Not his very best book, but well worth any SF fan's time and money.
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5.0 out of 5 stars !!!Concept Vertigo!!!, 11 Jan. 2010
By 
numpty (Great britain) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Teranesia (Paperback)
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. I give him the edge over Brian Aldis (my other favorite), as concepts are heavier and plots driven by 'rawer' science at a blistering pace.

His breadth of vision astounds; always extrapolating logically to the n'th degree. A modicum of effort may be required from the reader at times; but one is richly rewarded with a sense of awe, discovery and achievement. Each book is a Grand Odyssey.

Hold tight and don't look down, because he'll take you a long, long way from where you started....
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Teranesia
Teranesia by Greg Egan (Paperback - 19 Aug. 1999)
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