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Science saves the day,,,,
This review is from: Incandescence (Paperback)
Incandescence uses the same backround as two stories, Riding the Crocodile and Glory. All are set in the Amalgam, a far future utopia that allows people to follow any path they want to personal enlightment. Boredom is the only remaining problem.
In alternating chapters, two stories seem to go in different directions. Rakesh and Parantham are both looking for adventure. A traveller tells of the Aloof, a presumed civilisation that has no contact with the Amalgam but which dangles the possibility of a quest to solve a puzzle of the origins of some unique DNA. Rakesh and Parantham take up the challenge and follow a complex trail to the remains of an intelligent race whose civilisation was wiped out by stellar instability. The other story concerns aliens living inside what seems like a large planetoid, the Splinter, which periodically undergoes extreme peturbations. Normally just intent on the basic tasks of living, one of their number, Zak, tries to understand the complex behaviour of their habitat. This intellectual quest slowly pulls in Roi, and then more and more of the Splinter's inhabitants, as they realise the need to understand their environment overrides the normal routines of living.
This is not action-packed science fiction. The story set on Splinter is a thinly disguised tutorial on astro-dynamics, illustrated by diagrams, and mathematical speculations being proven (or not) by an ongoing series of measurements/experiments. The quest for the missing alien race story is equally intent on using complex science to unpick a puzzle. What becomes endearing about both is the single-minded quest for understanding. It is almost as though any problem can be solved by rational investigation. While there is little action, there is a lot of incredible speculation. Perhaps this is true science fiction, where science and discovery is the hook, not the story?