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It causes riots and religions. It has people dancing in the streets and leaping off skyscrapers. And it's all because of the impenetrable gray shield that slid into place around the solar system on the night of November 15, 2034.
Some see the bubble as the revenge of an insane God. Some see it as justice. Some even see it as protection. But one thing is for certain -- now there is the universe, and the earth. And never the twain shall meet.
Or so it seems. Until a bio-enhanced PI named Nick Stavrianos takes on a job for an anonymous client: find a girl named Laura who disappeared from a mental institution by the most direct possible method -- walking through the walls.
And oldie but a seriously goodie, this book was brought back to my attention by some recent encounters with Quantum Physics, in the entertainment industry... Angel Stations by Gary Gibson, and a movie called What The Bleep Do We Know?, both of which deal with the Quantum Universe and the effects of intelligence as an observer and collapsing a sea of 'possibles' into a singled fixed 'definite' outcome.
This story deals with humanity in the later part of this century, suddenly finding itself sealed off from the rest of the universe by a barrier that lets nothing in or out, not even light... the barrier encompasses our solar system, basically trapping humainty in a bubble a few billion kilometers in diameter. In cosmic terms, that's a very tiny space indeed. While this is going on, humanity has discovered how to create organic programmes, circuitry grown inside the brain, rewiring us with extra features. No more need for a remote control, simply purchase and install the InfraRed modification, and overnight your hand will grow cells that can receive and transmit infrared signals under the control of a small bit of software running in your head.
Not funky enough, how about a mod that allows you the technological equivalent of telepathy, called The Night Exchange. Wake up in the morning and you just know what the sender wants you to know... a feature put to good use by our hero, Nick. And there's much much more out there that you can buy and download into here -taps skull-.
The biggest, and possibly wrong, assumption that Greg Egan makes is that there is a specific part of the brain that causes the Quantum Flux around us to collapse into a single rigid 'reality' and that with a specially designed tweak, that area can be caused to stop collapsing worldlines, thus allowing the person to live in a state of 'smeared out' existence. Basically, you can live spread across parallel worldlines where Shroedinger's cat is both alive and dead at the same time... no need for it to be one or the other.
Imagine the possibilities! And that's exactly what Egan does... with some very interesting conclusions arising from them. No more need for doors... you can choose which side of the wall you wish to be on, and selectively collapse the worldlines so that you simply are there... are you at home or at work? Why not be both! Clean the dishes while you vacuum the house while you drive the kids to sport while you make that big sales pitch to the boss, who is in the room, and in his office, and at his house as well... it get's a little tough on the ol' grey matter upstairs if you let it run away from you.
Overall, this is a wonderful book, and if you are, like me, a bit of a Hi-Sci buff, you'll love this. If you aren't into the brain-bending sciences, you'll more than likely find this book a bit hard going.
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"Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are flat?"