Clockwork Rocket

Clockwork Rocket

4.0 3
by Greg Egan
     
 

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In Yalda's universe, light has no universal speed and its creation generates energy. On Yalda's world, plants make food by emitting their own light into the dark night sky. As a child, Yalda witnesses one of a series of strange meteors, the Hurtlers, that are entering the planetary system at an immense, unprecedented speed. It becomes apparent that her world is in…  See more details below

Overview


In Yalda's universe, light has no universal speed and its creation generates energy. On Yalda's world, plants make food by emitting their own light into the dark night sky. As a child, Yalda witnesses one of a series of strange meteors, the Hurtlers, that are entering the planetary system at an immense, unprecedented speed. It becomes apparent that her world is in imminent danger — and the task of dealing with the Hurtlers will require knowledge and technology far beyond anything her civilization has yet achieved! Only one solution seems tenable: if a spacecraft can be sent on a journey at sufficiently high speed, its trip will last many generations for those on board, but it will return after just a few years have passed at home. The travelers will have a chance to discover the science their planet urgently needs, and bring it back in time to avert disaster.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Scientific treatise (with charts and diagrams) melds with character study and social commentary in Hugo-winner Egan's stand-alone steampunk SF novel. On a faraway world with technology and culture roughly analogous to those of our Victorian era, the female polymorph Yalda studies the properties of light and discovers a celestial object that seems certain to strike her planet. A society that harshly subjugates women (easy when childbirth inevitably kills the mother) works against her as she tries to build and launch a rocket that will take her people to safety. Difficult, dense scientific conjecturing makes this a nearly impenetrable read for those lacking physics degrees or superior spatial thinking, but the societal analogy, totally alien culture, and intriguing characters are potent reasons to power through. (Aug.)
Library Journal
The arrival of a prolonged meteor shower spells danger for Yalda's world, part of a universe in which time and space are not differentiated and light has no universal speed. Yalda and others who share her view of impending doom conceive a plan to launch a rocket that moves at hyperspeed, fast enough to cancel the effects of time on its voyage and buy time for scientists to discover how to save their world. Egan introduces a fascinating alien species that reproduces through the division (and death) of the mother into two sets of twins. The struggle of the planet's females to make sense of a life cut short by the act of giving birth weighs heavily on the mind of the story's central character, yet the discovery of new physics takes precedence over everything else. The characters are fully realized individuals who, though they bear no resemblance to humans, reflect on their place in the universe and the meaning of their lives. VERDICT This trilogy launch by the author of Zendegi and Incandescence is an intellectually stimulating tale (complete with diagrams illustrating an alternate physics) that will appeal to fans of hard science in their sf as well as to Egan's followers and admirers of Larry Niven and John Scalzi.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780575095120
Publisher:
Gollancz, Victor Limited
Publication date:
09/28/2011

Meet the Author


Greg Egan is a computer programmer, and the author of the acclaimed SF novels 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.

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The Clockwork Rocket 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Measure More than 1 year ago
A compelling plot and lovable, moral characters are the center of this story. There is a fair amount of math in this book, but please don't let it scare you away! You can handle it. Mr. Egan's website has great animations and further descriptions to help. For your efforts you'll be rewarded with no less than a new perspective on the universe. Egan has created a beautiful world, and peopled it with some of the strangest aliens yet imagined. That would be a good book by itself, but Egan has further distinguished himself by a vivid re-imagining of physics itself. This is science fiction at its very best: challenging the reader to see everything in a new light. This book will go down as a classic. As I was reading it, I kept wondering how it could be that I'd never heard of this book before? Only after I finished the book did I realize that it had only been published last month. I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel and enthusiastically recommending it to anyone who'll listen to me.
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