01/11/2008. Contributed by Gareth D Jones
pub: Gollancz. 293 page enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK only). ISBN: 978-0-575-08333-2.
check out website: www.orionbooks.co.uk
Teranesia is the made-up name of a remote Indonesian island that forms the backdrop of this novel. It is the island where Prabir grows up with his biologist parents and where he and his sister return years later to investigate strange new creatures that have been discovered. In this book, Greg Egan shows that he can talk biology as convincingly as he can discuss maths and physics.
I'm afraid I have to say that I enjoyed this novel the least of all of Egan's books. That's not to say that it isn't a well-written tale, full of intriguing ideas and interesting characters. In fact, I'm struggling to define exactly why I found it less satisfying than usual. I just wasn't as engaged in the story and found it somehow more nebulous than Egan's other novels.
There's a lot of technical talk, as is often the case in a 'hard SF' novel, but this is tempered with modest action sequences and the beautiful locations. Prabir is a well-developed character, full of emotional turmoil and complex motives. His relationship with his sister, in many ways central to the plot, adds a continually interesting dynamic to the characters.
Overall, an intriguing and continually innovative story that will please hard SF fans in particular and demonstrates that near-future Earthbound SF can be as fascinating as any far flung Galactic Empire.
Gareth D. Jones
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