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Teranesia by [Egan, Greg]
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Teranesia Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Length: 299 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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In the new millennium, Prabhir spends his childhood on the small Indonesian island where his biologist parents are investigating anomalous butterflies:

"The butterfly--a female twenty centimeters across, with black and iridescent-green wings--clearly belonged to some species of swallowtail: the two hind wings were tipped with long , narrow "tails" or "streamers". But there were puzzling quirks ... the pattern of veins in the wings. and the position of the genital openings ... How could this one species of swallowtail been isolated longer than any other butterfly in the world."
A childish prank leads to Prabhir's blaming himself for the violent deaths of his parents and he devotes the rest of his life to protecting his young sister; aged 9, he sails with her to safety and later abandons his education to give her a home. Maddie becomes a biologist, and takes an interest in the strange creatures now proliferating in the islands; when she goes on a field trip, Prabhir feels obliged to follow... Greg Egan's recent books and short stories of the near future--Distress and Luminous --have combined their intellectually challenging scientific speculations with a good deal of human drama, and Teranesia continues this trend in his work; Prabhir's irrational guilt and obsessive protectiveness make him a memorable flawed protagonist. In the end, though, the point is the wonders--Egan comes up with some fascinating speculation on mechanisms whereby evolution could suddenly go into overdrive, and has the good sense not to push conclusions too far; the reader's informed imagination continues well beyond the book's end. All this, and some scathing satire on Critical Theory and Cultural Studies too. --Roz Kaveney


"Cognitive wonder at its challenging best." --Locus

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 909 KB
  • Print Length: 299 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (30 Dec. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004JHY8IA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #290,025 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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