"All right. He's dead. Go ahead and talk to him." It is the year 2055, and the battle of the sexes has seven combatants rather than two. "The illusion of empathy" has been dispensed with, and a few idealistic souls try to create a utopia with pirated technology. But a wired journalist, Andrew Worth, doesn't want any part of the pop "Frankenscience" regularly dished out to the masses. Burned-out after completing a documentary on controversial developments in biotechnology, he turns down a chance to report on a baffling new mental disorder known as Distress and instead takes an assignment covering the Einstein Centenary Conference on the artificial island of Stateless. There, a young South African physicist, Violet Mosala, is expected to unveil her candidate for a Theory of Everything. But the assignment is not the tropical respite Worth was expecting. Unfortunately academia's facade of civility is dangerously cracked with a seething maelstrom of plotting, assassination attempts, and rebellion, and Worth is dragged down into the nightmare. The world's only hope for survival lies in Violet Mosala's development of a final Theory of Everything, but whether it will lead to the total destruction of life as we know it or the complete remaking of the universe may be a risk too dangerous to take. Greg Egan's audacious voice and literary scope create a fragmented futuristic world where technology and bioengineering threaten humanity's very existence.
Greg Egan is a computer programmer, and the author of the acclaimed SF novels "Permutation City," "Diaspora," "Teranesia," "Quarantine," and the Orthogonal trilogy, all published by Night Shade Books. He has won the Hugo Award as well as the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Egan's short fiction has been published in a variety of places, including "Interzone," "Asimov's," and "Nature."