Distress

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Overview

It is 2055. The world is far better - and infinitely worse. Investigative reporter Andrew Worth turns down a documentary on a mysterious new mental illness - "Distress" or acute clinical anxiety syndrome. Instead, he travels on assignment to the artificial island of Stateless, where the world's top physicists are gathering to decide on a new TOE, or Theory of Everything, to replace Einstein's outmoded legacy. Chief among the scientists is the brilliant African Nobel laureate, Violet Mosala, the focus of Worth's ...
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Overview

It is 2055. The world is far better - and infinitely worse. Investigative reporter Andrew Worth turns down a documentary on a mysterious new mental illness - "Distress" or acute clinical anxiety syndrome. Instead, he travels on assignment to the artificial island of Stateless, where the world's top physicists are gathering to decide on a new TOE, or Theory of Everything, to replace Einstein's outmoded legacy. Chief among the scientists is the brilliant African Nobel laureate, Violet Mosala, the focus of Worth's story, who is the subject of mysterious death threats. Trying to track them down, Worth meets a compellingly attractive asex (ungendered person) who reveals the secret behind the conference. There are those who believe that it is the TOE itself that brings the Universe into existence, and that the person who formulates it is the Keystone, without whom there would be no Universe to explain! Worth's assignment takes on even more urgency when he finds that Distress, the mental plague now affecting millions, is linked somehow to the approaching "Aleph Moment" when the TOE is finalized. The countdown has begun for a disaster that will reach all the way back to the Big Bang. And beyond...
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
About 60 years from now, SeeNet journalist and narrator Andrew Worth (he has a camera and computer software hardwired into his body) muscles in on a colleague's assignment to cover a physics convention on the artificial coral island, Stateless, at which Nobel laureate Violet Mosala is expected to announce a watertight Theory of Everything (TOE). The event, however, is complicated by the presence of several noisy anti-science cult groups—among them the mysterious and secretive Anthrocosmologists who believe that whoever first formulates the TOE will become the Keystone in which the completed TOE, mingling information theory with particle physics, will actually change the structure of the universe. Andrew's Anthrocosmology contact, Akili Kuwale, a "gender migrant" (s/he has no breasts or sexual organs), warns that a particularly violent, extreme faction intends to assassinate Violet to prevent the Aleph Moment when the completed TOE's effects kick in. Soon, Andrew falls sick—the extremists have infected him, intending that he pass the virus on to Violet; she falls ill, but has arranged for supercomputers to complete her calculations and disseminate the results. As the extremists redouble their violent efforts, Stateless's former owners send mercenaries to recapture the island, while a sort of reverse echo of the Aleph Moment results in a wave of mass insanity, or Distress, whose victims apparently have all turned into Keystones!

Challenging, well informed, and iconoclastic, but also abstruse and often heavy: admirable rather than enjoyable, but an impressive first hardcover nonetheless.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061057274
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/1/1998
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 4.21 (w) x 6.78 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2000

    Walk into another World...

    so very close to this one, but so different. I say the previous reviewer doesn't know what he's talking about. Egan builds innumerable technological and sociological facets of an intricate society, balanced on the edge of collapse, and with each new facet, he just begins to suggest an entirely different paradigm it could create. this is a book not about the end of the world, though it comes terrifyingly close to unravelling into a sollipsist oblivion, it is a book about a world, a fractured and fragmented global culture, where all members struggle for identity, and find it in myriad cults or novel technological expression. this is a book of concepts, many many concepts. some barely suggested, some deeply explored, but cover to cover this book is full of fascinating ideas. five stars. without a doubt.

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