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November 2002
© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Schild's Ladder by Greg Egan
0061050938 PubDate May 02 
Review by Greg Johnson
342 pages List price $25.95  
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Schildís Ladder begins as the account of an experiment gone inexplicably awry. The experiment was designed as a test of the Surampaet Rules, a Theory of Everything whose physics has been accepted as unquestionably correct for thousands of years. A new universe, with its own physical laws, is created as a result. The problem is that the baby universe is inside our own, and expanding at a slightly faster rate than ours. Left alone, our universe will be engulfed from within.

Six hundred years later, people of many philosophies and persuasions have gathered on the edge of the new universe, debating furiously about what to do. By this time, several inhabited planets have been evacuated before disappearing in the new space, but even under these circumstances some people are convinced that the right thing to do is to leave the new universe alone. Others think it must be stopped, or destroyed. The arguments on each side, and the various characters advocating each view, make up much of the story of Schildís Ladder.

The characters in the book are themselves a bit inexplicable. Their lives, and their concerns, are so different from our time that their emotions and actions barely seem human. To his credit, Egan makes no attempt to portray his characters as if they were 21st century men and women, the reader must take them, and try to understand them, on their own terms.

Make no mistake about it, Schildís Ladder is not an easy read. Indeed, the first fifteen pages almost seem to be written as a barrier to be overcome before the reader is let into the story. That story, though, is a first-rate mix of speculation and character. Itís that combination of cutting-edge physics, and characters that are true to their own time, that makes Schildís Ladder superb science fiction.

The above is an excerpt from Greg Johnson's  review of Schild's Ladder earlier this year at SF Site.  See the original review in its entirety at

sfr3d.gif (19860 bytes)© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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