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on 28 October 1998
This new collection of short stories by Greg Egan delivers more of the hard, thoughtful, Australian Cyberpunk and Science Fiction that he is famous for.'Luminous' is more than just your average Cyberpunk techno-romp, Egan deals with the big issues. For instance, in 'Mitochondrial Eve', Egan invents the field of "quantum genopaleontology" in order to examine issues of religion, tribalism and racism. Another story, 'Mr Volilition', draws on Minsky's pandimonium model of the mind, and describes the effect on a murderous theif when a neural monitor dispels the myth of free will. The title story, 'Luminous', deals with the very nature of reality, as two mathematicians struggle to prevent a pockets of "alien mathmatics" slipping into the hands of a corporation with sinister motives. Great stuff ! Highly recomended. I look forward to his next novel.
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on 27 November 2000
SF has long been described as the genre of "What if", meaning that most science fiction stories take as their premise a hypothetical question such as "what if there were a male birth control pill" and use it as the grist for a story.
In that sense, Egan's work is definitely in the classic mould. The primary difference is that the "what if's" that Egan works with tend to be on the bleeding edge of science and philosophy. The amazing thing is how the human (indeed, humanistic) dimesion manages to shine through.
Some have complained that Egan is too militantly a rationalist. One can just as easily say that he's a champion of rationality. Your opinion of his work is likely to be influenced by your opinion of the broader subject. Certainly if you aren't comfortable with the skewering of such things as postmodernism or religious sentimentalism, you'll probably find his stories to be a source of irritation. If that doesn't bother you, I would recommend this selection of short stories without hesitation.
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on 25 June 2009
Not being a big science fiction fan I was suprised how much I enjoyed this collection of short stories.The author is obviously a very intelligent and knowlegeble guy where cutting edge science is concerned.Although some of the science bits went way above my head (paticurlary the 'Luminous' story which deals with some very complex math theory) underneath all the science jargon are some very intresting studies of the human conditon such as what really is happiness in the story 'Reasons to be cheerful'.The stories are not bogged down with the usual sci-fi cliches which tend to put me off this genre and in the main are very inventive and intresting.Most of the stories really made me think and ponder on what some of the issues of the future might be.All in all even if you don't usually enjoy Sci-fi but do enjoy stories which get your brain going give this great book a try.
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on 11 October 2011
Egan's other hard sci-fi books (Permutation City and Quarantine) have been read with much gusto while not being bogged down by all the new terminology and sciences. Likewise, many of the stories in the collection titled Luminous have a heavy hand in science but also have svelte figures of plots. The only story to go well over my head was the final story, Planck Dive. All the other were either fantastic is all regards (like Chaff, Luminous and Cocoon), had a semi-predictable ending but was still decent reads (like Mitochondrial Eve and Transition Dreams) or just lacked a certain amount of oomph at the end (like Mister Volition and Silver Fire). But the `bang for buck' factor is very high here!

Chaff - 5/5 - A cartel owned bioengineered section of the rainforest is resilient to any attack and produces useful substances as a b-product. An American geneticist has vanished from his government job and a spy is hired to track him down in this unforgiving jungle. 27 pages

Mitochondrial Eve - 4/5 - Humanity has been sampled and an organization declares that everyone has descended from one female from eons ago. Later, a rival group claims that everyone has actually originated from a sole male from the past. A study has been launched to find the truth. 29 pages

Luminous - 5/5 - The idea of a flaw in mathematics has turned into a reality and the proof its importance could either be harnessed or destroyed but who or what is actively pursuing the outcome? Surely the supercomputer Luminous can rummage through all the possible avenues! 41 pages

Mister Volition - 4/5 - A reality warping eye patch (ala Gibson's Virtual Light) projects lines of color into a man's world. The colors begin to make sense but the feedback (biofeedback to be more exact) is becoming overbearing. Is it volition or coercion? 20 pages

Cocoon - 5/5 - An improvement on the womb would allow it to block harmful drugs and other substances from entering the fetus. Who could possibly consider this an evil thing and blow up the research lab? By the way, please define `harmful substances' if you will! 38 pages

Transition Dreams - 3/5 - Prior to being downloaded into an android body, a man's is being given the speech about the process. Having been satisfied with the contract, he mulls the thought of trans-embodiment dreams which will occur but he will not remember. Dreams; they're a funny thing. 18 pages

Silver Fire - 3/5 - An endemic is popping up across the world and a local minor hotbed is in the American eastern seaboard. When the investigator tracks down a rave-like party which `caravans' to the west, which aspect of this party could possibly transmit the virus? 39 pages

Reasons to be Cheerful - 4/5 - A boy with a cancerous part of his brain becomes perpetually happy. However, when cured of the cancer he becomes plagued by the antithesis of bliss. Over the year he grovels through life until he is given the choice of selective enjoyment. Blessings are often double-sided. 41 pages

Our Lady of Chernobyl - 3/5 - An expensive relic is sought after. A detective is hired to hunt it down and solve the mystery of the courier's disappearance. If an obscure piece of art can cause murder, deceit and large monetary sums to change hands, how will the detective sift through the clout? 36 pages

The Planck Dive - 2/5 - A largely unintelligible story of black holes and the drive to dive into the hole to obtain infinite computation through digitizing the explorers' clones. That's about all I could decipher from it. 37 pages
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on 11 January 2010
I'm so glad I didn't read any reviews before the books, as many give the plot away!

Egan's work is Science-Fiction of the highest order. I give him the edge over Brian Aldis (my other favorite), as the concepts are heavier and the plots driven by unadulterated science at a blistering pace from start to finish.

His breadth of vision is astounding; always extrapolating to the n'th degree. Though I sometimes struggle to keep up, I am always rewarded with a sense of awe, discovery and achievement. Each book is a Grand Odyssey.

This is my generic review for everything he's published. I've read them all and rate every one 5*
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on 17 August 2009
I read a lot of SF in my younger days from Asimov, Clarke and Niven through to Greg Bear, Ballard and Phil Dick. I kind of lost touch with reading and SF for many years but eventually picked up a Greg Egan novel to try and play catch up with the genre.

Egan is a very good writer encompassing virtual reality, biotech, hard science and humanism amongst many other things too numerous to mention.

An excellent writer and craftsman. I should have been reading this guy years ago. I went out and bought all his books and am wending my way through them. Highly recommended and very thought provoking body of work.
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on 15 January 2012
I first read this book ten years ago and I keep coming back to it. The plots are very good and it's obvious the writer has a scientific background and he's trying to go 'ahead of time' and predict what scientist will be up to in the next 20 years. Also, the characters are very developed which is so rare in short stories. I especially like "Reasons to be cheerful", the happiness recipe (choice and chemicals...).
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on 25 March 2014
Ok .. Short stories .. Quite good .. Worth a read if u r a fan so give it a go
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on 16 May 2015
It is good, just not quite as good as Axiomatic
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on 17 October 1999
Egan has managed to find the perfect balance of hard SF concepts and human interest. He seems to have a particular interest in the emerging science of biotech, and the end result is a fascinating collection of stories, a spot on blend of authentic science and just plain good writing.
Highly recommended.
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