Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Book Review: Zendegi by Greg Egan

Review by Stuart Mayne

To me Zendegi is the most accessible Egan novel since his novelette Oceanic. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the technical detail of Egan’s work, but it can get the reader bogged down. Zendegi seems to me to be evidence that Egan is maturing and compromising some what in his work, allowing the lay reader in. For which I am grateful—Egan’s work deserves a wider local audience.
In Zendegi Nasim is a computer scientist (like the author), hoping to work on the Human Connectome Project—a plan to map every neural connection in the human brain. When funding is cut Nasim goes on to work on the computerized virtual world of Zendegi. Fifteen years down the track and the Connectome Project is back up and running. For Nasim, Zendegi is looking tired, so he decides to exploit the Connectome Project’s neural map to fill Zendegi with better Proxies. Chaos and controversy ensure.
This is classic Egan, exploring the meaning of humanity in a virtual world. Egan’s maturity shines throughout this novel, exposing the reader to deeper and more complex characters whose lives seem more real and less “Proxy”-like than earlier novels. An excellent introduction for the author’s local readers.

* This review appeared in the aurealisXpress newsletter for August 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment