Greg Egan

Legend Books 1992
A book review by Danny Yee © 1994 http://dannyreviews.com/
Quarantine begins as a high tech future thriller, with a private detective hired to find a missing woman in a late 21st century Australia where, among other things, one can download software into one's brain, something has sealed the solar system within an impenetrable Bubble, and New Hong Kong has been built on top of Arnhem land. But these glimpses of an exciting future are never really developed or explored in detail, as the focus quickly shifts to the metaphysics of quantum mechanics.

This is a science fiction oldie, and one that is usually dealt with rather poorly. (Giving humans conscious control over fundamental physics is all too often used as a deus ex machina to solve the plot problems at the end of a novel: Orson Scott Card's Xenocide is a recent example.) Egan makes one big (massively implausible?) assumption — that wave function collapse is the responsibility of a particular part of the brain and that with the right neural modification people can learn to avoid doing it, producing a "smeared out" universe — but otherwise his scenario is internally consistent. Even more importantly, Quarantine actually tries to "follow through" on the consequences of its assumptions, and manages to bring something of their full metaphysical immensity home to the reader. If you are interested in this kind of philosophical exploration of quantum mechanics then Quarantine will fascinate; if not you will probably find it rather frustrating.

May 1994

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Related reviews:
- books by Greg Egan
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%T Quarantine
%A Egan, Greg
%I Legend Books
%D 1992
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0099153815
%P 248pp