Quarantine by Greg Egan

(discussed February 19, 1998)

On a ten-point scale (1=bad, 10=good), the people who read the book gave the following ratings: 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 10. Average: 6.4. Note:: This includes a rating from Raja Thiagarajan, who was in Atlanta during the meeting.

This book was "sponsored" by Gregory and Raja, in response to complaints that the group hasn't read enough "real SF" or enough recent SF.

Raja Thiagarajan rates the book as a 10. In the e-mail publicizing the choice of the book, he wrote:

The novel concerns quantum mechanics, the physics of the very small. It is probably the ultimate SF book on quantum mechanics; the only other book that deals with QM to a similar degree is Charles Sheffield's Transcendance, and that book is aimed more at children. Quarantine also deals with ontology, but then so do most of Egan's recent novels ;-)
As far as I'm concerned, Greg Egan is one of the three best writers working in SF today; it's a shame that his books are hard to get in the US. Egan isn't a great "literary" writer, and he doesn't try very hard to shield the reader from difficult ideas or technical jargon. But if you want to see a dizzying profusion of ideas, and think about the universe as you never have before, I can't think of anyone better.

On hearing that Raja would be out of town for the Quarantine discussion, John Gallman wrote

Sorry you won't be there. It's a (rather boring) metaphysical fantasy with some interesting more or less intentional perspectives on free will and identity.

Dedaimia Whitney's reply to John's e-mail was:

Argh! I thought it was the most exciting piece of science fiction I've read in 10 years!