Incandescence by Greg Egan – sci-fi

Greg Egan’s Incandescence is a hard sci-fi novel about a large expanse of space called the Amalgam, filled with many different sentient species, and the center of it (the bulge) which is occupied by a group called the Aloof. The Aloof allow traveling through their territory, but don’t really associate themselves with the rest of the species in the world. The story follows both Rakesh (a traveler set on confronting the Aloof about some information from a human DNA related new world) and Roi, an alien species beginning to question the physics of their world and embark on the mysteries of the universe.

At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of Roi’s part of the story, but I realized her purpose quickly. Despite the tone of Roi’s chapters (which are more about learning and discovering the physics of her world and how things work), I really found her quest for knowledge enjoyable to read. Roi and Zak work together in a harmonious way that is really a pleasure to read, at first.

I always found Rakesh’s chapters to be a little more exciting, maybe because he was setting out on a different type of adventure, rather than one that was completely dedicated to knowledge. He was looking for information, however, he was also traveling and meeting new people. I found the technology of the Amalgam to be interesting, especially the ability for the species to co-exist in virtual forms when stopped at certain locations.

However, about halfway through I realized I was really bored and trudging through this one so I had to put it down. I was skimming through all of Roi’s stuff because all it reminded me of was sitting in a physics classroom; there was no character development, nothing interesting to make me care about her or Zak. And, then Rakesh’s storyline was just about as slow moving. I wanted to finish, but for such a short book it was taking me way too long to do it.