Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Incandescence: is relativity just boring?

I have to write a review of Greg Egan's new book Incandescence for the Australian Book Review. While I love Greg Egan to bits (Schild's Ladder would make it into my top 20 or possibly even 10 greatest ever reads across all genres), I have to say I didn't actually like Incandescence a terrible lot. I got bored with the physics (usually Egan's strong point; it's amazing when someone can make you feel like you are perceiving the world in five dimensions just using words) and I didn't give a rat's about the characters.

So I will have to write a critical review, and then Greg Egan will read it because it's in the ABR, and then he will hate me. This is a terrible dilemma.


  1. I wouldn't fret too much if I were you. Incandescence has already had many bad reviews, including a few that have plumbed the depths of malice and bitchiness (not to mention a basic lack of English comprehension), so any honest assessment by someone who has actually paid attention to the contents of the book will be a cut above the worst.

    That said, anyone who finds relativity boring should realise that they are simply not part of the target audience for this book. It's not a crime to have no interest in this subject -- but nor is it a crime against literature to write about it. It bemuses me that so many reviewers try to elevate the mismatch between the book's subject and their personal preferences into some kind of objective failure on the part of the author.

  2. It's presumptuous of me to assume that you would hate anyone, let alone someone you've never met .... and of course now I'm fretting even more.