Teranesia

Teranesia

by Greg Egan

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Product Details

BN ID: 2940154009628
Publisher: Greg Egan
Publication date: 02/08/2017
Sold by: Smashwords
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 410,228
File size: 545 KB

About the Author

I am a science fiction writer and computer programmer.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The island was too small for human habitation, and too far from the commonly traveled sea routes to serve as a navigation point, so the people of the Kai and Tanimbar Islands had never had reason to name it. The Javanese and Sumatran rulers who'd claimed tributes from the Spice Islands would have been oblivious to its existence, and Prabir had been unable to locate it on any Dutch or Portuguese chart that had been scanned and placed on the net. To the current Indonesian authorities it was a speck on the map of Maluku propinsi, included for the sake of completeness along with a thousand other uninhabited rocks. Prabir had realized the opportunity he was facing even before they'd left Calcutta, and he'd begun compiling a list of possibilities immediately, but it wasn't a decision he could make lightly. He'd been on the island for more than a year before he finally settled on a name for it.

He tried out the word on his classmates and friends before slipping it into a conversation with his parents. His father had smiled approvingly, but then had second thoughts.

"Why Greek? If you're not going to use a local language...why not Bengali?"

Prabir had gazed back at him, puzzled. Names sounded dull if you understood them too easily. Why make do with a lame Big River, when you could have a majestic Rio Grande? But surely his father knew that It was his example Prabir was following.

"The same reason you named the butterfly in Latin."

His mother had laughed. "He's got you there!" And his father had relented, hoisting Prabir up into the air to be spun and tickled. "All right, all right! Teranesia!"

But that hadbeen before Madhusree was born, when she hadn't been named herself (except as the much-too-literal Accidental Bulge). So Prabir stood on the beach, holding his sister up to the sky, spinning around slowly as he chanted, "Teranesia! Teranesia!" Madhusree stared down at him, more interested in watching him pronounce the strange word than in taking in the panorama he was trying to present to her. Was it normal to be nearsighted at fifteen months? Prabir resolved to look it up. He lowered her to his face and kissed her noisily, then staggered, almost losing his balance. She was growing heavier much faster than he was growing stronger. His parents claimed not to be growing stronger at all, and both now refused to lift him over their heads.

"Come the revolution," Prabir told Madhusree, checking for shells and coral before putting her down on the dazzling white sand.

"What?"

"We'll redesign our bodies. Then I'll always be able to lift you up. Even when I'm ninety-one and you're eighty-three."

She laughed at this talk of the metaphysically distant future. Prabir was fairly sure that Madhusree understood eighty-three at least as well as he understood, say, ten to the hundredth power. Looming over her, he counted out eight hand flashes, then three fingers. She watched, uncertain but mesmerized. Prabir gazed into her jet black eyes. His parents didn't understand Madhusree: they couldn't tell the difference between the way she made them feel and the way she was. Prabir only understood, himself, because he dimly remembered what it was like from the inside.

"Oh, you pretty thing," he crooned.

Madhusree smiled conspiratorially.

Prabir glanced away from her, across the beach, out into the calm turquoise waters of the Banda Sea. The waves breaking on the reef looked tame from here, though he'd been on enough queasy ferry rides to Tual and Ambon to know what a steady monsoon wind, let alone a storm, could whip up. But if Teranesia was spared the force of the open ocean, the large islands that shielded it—Timor, Sulawesi, Ceram, New Guinea—were invisibly remote. Even the nearest equally obscure rock was too far away to be seen from the beach.

"For small altitudes, the distance to the horizon is approximately the square root of twice the product of your height above sea level and the radius of the Earth." Prabir pictured a right triangle, with vertices at the center of the Earth, a point on the horizon, and his own eyes. He'd plotted the distance function on his notepad, and knew many points on the curve by heart. The beach sloped steeply, so his eyes were probably two full meters above sea level. That meant he could see for five kilometers. If he climbed Teranesia's volcanic cone until the nearest of the outlying Tanimbar Islands came into sight, the altitude of that point which his notepad's satellite navigation system could tell him would enable him to calculate exactly how far away they were.

But he knew the distance already, from maps: almost eighty kilometers. So he could reverse the whole calculation, and use it to verify his altitude: the lowest point from which he could see land would be five hundred meters. He'd drive a stake into the ground to mark the spot. He turned toward the center of the island, the black peak just visible above the coconut palms that rimmed the beach. It sounded like a long climb, especially if he had to carry Madhusree most of the way.

"Do you want to go see Ma?"

Madhusree pulled a face. "No!" She could never have too much of Ma, but she, knew when he was trying to dump her.

Prabir shrugged. He could do the experiment later; nothing was worth a tantrum. "Do you want to go swimming, then?" Madhusree nodded enthusiastically and clambered to her feet, then ran unsteadily toward...

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Teranesia 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
locrianRhapsody on LibraryThing 8 months ago
wanted to like this. but i didn't. kept gettin' bogged down here & there. & again. some interesting biology... the ending is not what i had anticipated, so there's a twist. the overall feeling is too chunky.
pretygrrl on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I have to admit that I didn't really get this book. It might be that you need to have had at least some formal instruction in biology to follow the plot, even. But I can certainly judge the quality of the writing (excellent!) and the insight of the commentary. For example, this book contains the most persuasive explanation of homosexuality. For social animals such as us, it pays for the gene pool to throw up infertile members @ some low frequency, so that they may contribute elsewhere, and help care for others' kids. Egan imagines this as the occasional lake formed by the steady current of the river of evolution.I buy it!
Krsont on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I have to say this book was pretty dissapointing compared to the other works of his I've read. It spent far too long attacking a notion of modern scholarship that was clearly a parody - if he wanted to attack postmodernism he should have either stuck with the evidently ridiculous parody, or actually have the characters attack actual postmodernism; instead what he did was create a ridiculous strawman and then have his characters attack that, thereby making it look like he had no idea what he was talking about.
xenoi on LibraryThing 11 months ago
After his researcher parents die in an air raid, a young Indian boy escapes the small, otherwise uninhabited Polynesian island with his sister. He returns as an adult in pursuit of the causes of a strange genetic malady spreading over the region. "Hard" SF with fully-fleshed-out, sympathetic characters and a compelling plot. A good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago