Greg Egan

eBooks



This page lists eBooks that I have published myself. They are all currently priced at US$3.99, and they are DRM-free (that is, the eBook’s use is not restricted by Digital Rights Management). For Diaspora, as well as the standard eBook there is an Enhanced Multimedia Edition, for iPads and for Apple computers running Mac OS 10.9 or later.

eBook covers

Some of these eBooks are available only in certain countries — but whenever that’s the case, there are also eBook editions from other publishers that are available in the rest of the world:


Quarantine

Quarantine

This edition available in the USA only

Only the most paranoid clients phone me in my sleep.

No dreams; I simply wake, knowing:

Laura Andrews is thirty-two years old, one hundred and fifty-six centimetres tall, and weighs forty-five kilograms. Short, straight brown hair; pale blue eyes; a long, thin nose. Anglo-Irish features and deep black skin; like most Australians, born with insufficient UV protection, she’s been retrofitted with genes for boosted melanin production and a thicker epidermis.

Laura Andrews has severe congenital brain damage; she can walk and eat, clumsily, but she can’t communicate in any fashion, and the experts say that she understands the world little better than a six-month-old child. Since the age of five, she’s been an inpatient at the local Hilgemann Institute.

Four weeks ago, when an orderly unlocked her room to serve breakfast, she was gone. After a search of the building and grounds, the police were called in. They repeated and extended the search, and conducted a doorknock of the surrounding area, to no avail. Laura’s room bore no signs of forced entry, and recordings from security cameras proved unenlightening. The police interviewed the staff at length, but nobody broke down and owned up to spiriting the woman away.

In 2034, the stars went out. An unknown agency surrounded the solar system with an impenetrable barrier, concealing the universe from humanity’s gaze.

In 2067, Nick Stavrianos is hired to investigate the disappearance of a mentally disabled woman, Laura Andrews, from the institution where she was being cared for. Aided by a skull full of neural modifications, he follows her trail to the Republic of New Hong Kong, where an organisation known as the Ensemble has uncovered Laura’s extraordinary secret: an ability that could transform the world.


Permutation City

Permutation City

This edition available in the USA only

Paul uncovered his eyes, and looked around the room. Away from a few dazzling patches of direct sunshine, everything glowed softly in the diffuse light: the matte white brick walls, the imitation (imitation) mahogany furniture; even the posters — Bosch, Dali, Ernst, and Giger — looked harmless, domesticated. Wherever he turned his gaze (if nowhere else), the simulation was utterly convincing; the spotlight of his attention made it so. Hypothetical light rays were being traced backwards from individual rod and cone cells on his simulated retinas, and projected out into the virtual environment to determine exactly what needed to be computed: a lot of detail near the centre of his vision, much less towards the periphery. Objects out of sight didn’t “vanish” entirely, if they influenced the ambient light, but Paul knew that the calculations would rarely be pursued beyond the crudest first-order approximations: Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights reduced to an average reflectance value, a single grey rectangle — because once his back was turned, any more detail would have been wasted. Everything in the room was as finely resolved, at any given moment, as it needed to be to fool him — no more, no less.

Paul Durham keeps making Copies of himself: software simulations of his own brain and body which can be run in virtual reality, albeit seventeen times more slowly than real time. He wants them to be his guinea pigs for a set of experiments about the nature of artificial intelligence, time, and causality, but they keep changing their mind and baling out on him, shutting themselves down.

Maria Deluca is an Autoverse addict; she’s unemployed and running out of money, but she can’t stop wasting her time playing around with the cellular automaton known as the Autoverse, a virtual world that follows a simple set of mathematical rules as its “laws of physics”.

Paul makes Maria a very strange offer: he asks her to design a seed for an entire virtual biosphere able to exist inside the Autoverse, modelled right down to the molecular level. The job will pay well, and will allow her to indulge her obsession. There has to be a catch, though, because such a seed would be useless without a simulation of the Autoverse large enough to allow the resulting biosphere to grow and flourish — a feat far beyond the capacity of all the computers in the world.


Axiomatic

Axiomatic

This edition available in the USA only

I was six years old when my parents told me that there was a small, dark jewel inside my skull, learning to be me.

Microscopic spiders had woven a fine golden web through my brain, so that the jewel’s teacher could listen to the whisper of my thoughts. The jewel itself eavesdropped on my senses, and read the chemical messages carried in my bloodstream; it saw, heard, smelled, tasted and felt the world exactly as I did, while the teacher monitored its thoughts and compared them with my own. Whenever the jewel’s thoughts were wrong, the teacher – faster than thought – rebuilt the jewel slightly, altering it this way and that, seeking out the changes that would make its thoughts correct.

Why? So that when I could no longer be me, the jewel could do it for me.

I thought: if hearing that makes me feel strange and giddy, how must it make the jewel feel? Exactly the same, I reasoned; it doesn’t know it’s the jewel, and it too wonders how the jewel must feel, it too reasons: “Exactly the same; it doesn’t know it’s the jewel, and it too wonders how the jewel must feel…”

And it too wonders—

(I knew, because I wondered)

— it too wonders whether it’s the real me, or whether in fact it’s only the jewel that’s learning to be me.

From “Learning to Be Me”

Axiomatic is a collection of eighteen short stories:


Distress

Distress

This edition available in the USA only

“All right. He’s dead. Go ahead and talk to him.”

The bioethicist was a laconic young asex with blond dreadlocks and a T-shirt which flashed up the slogan SAY NO TO TOE! in between the paid advertising. Ve countersigned the permission form on the forensic pathologist’s notepad, then withdrew to a corner of the room. The trauma specialist and the paramedic wheeled their resuscitation equipment out of the way, and the forensic pathologist hurried forward, hypodermic syringe in hand, to administer the first dose of neuropreservative. Useless prior to legal death — massively toxic to several organs, on a time scale of hours — the cocktail of glutamate antagonists, calcium channel blockers, and antioxidants would halt the most damaging biochemical changes in the victim’s brain, almost immediately.

Andrew Worth is a science journalist with optic nerve taps and a gut full of memory chips. Burnt 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. While the politics surrounding the creation of Stateless grows more turbulent, and ignorance cults stage protests against the gathering scientists, a secretive group known as the Anthrocosmologists, with some very strange ideas about the Theory of Everything, begin to enact their own agenda.


Diaspora

Diaspora

This edition available in the USA only

Every orphan was an explorer, sent to map uncharted territory.

And every orphan was the uncharted territory itself.

In 2975, the orphan Yatima is grown from a randomly mutated digital mind seed in the conceptory of Konishi polis. Yatima explores the Coalition of Polises, the network of computers where most life in the solar system now resides, and joins a friend, Inoshiro, to borrow an abandoned robot body and meet a thriving community of “fleshers” in the enclave of Atlanta.

Twenty-one years later, news arrives from a lunar observatory: gravitational waves from Lac G-1, a nearby pair of neutron stars, show that the Earth is about to be bathed in a gamma-ray flash created by the stars’ collision — an event that was not expected to take place for seven million years. Yatima and Inoshiro return to Atlanta to try to warn the fleshers, but meet suspicion and disbelief. Some lives are saved, but the Earth is ravaged.

In the aftermath of the disaster, the survivors resolve to discover the cause of the neutron stars’ premature collision, and they launch a thousand polises into interstellar space in search of answers. This diaspora eventually reaches a planet subtly transformed to encode a message from an older group of travellers: a greater danger than Lac G-1 is imminent, and the only escape route leads beyond the visible universe.


Teranesia

Teranesia

This edition available in the USA only

Whole organs were displaced from their usual positions, and features conserved across the entire order Lepidoptera were missing, or subtly altered. If all of these changes were due to a barrage of random mutations, it was hard to imagine how the creature could have survived the larval stage, let alone ended up as such a beautifully formed, perfectly functioning adult.

Welcome to Teranesia, the island of butterflies, where evolution has stopped making sense.

Prabir Suresh lives in paradise, a nine-year-old boy with an island all his own: to name, to explore, and to populate with imaginary creatures stranger than any exotic tropical wildlife. Teranesia is his kingdom, shared only with his biologist parents and baby sister Madhusree. The evolutionary puzzle of the island’s butterflies that brought his family to the remote South Moluccas barely touches Prabir; his own life revolves around the beaches, the jungle, and the schooling and friendships made possible by the net.

When civil war breaks out across Indonesia, this paradise comes to a violent end. The mystery of the butterflies remains unsolved, but nearly twenty years later reports begin to appear of strange new species of plants and animals being found throughout the region — species separated from their known cousins by recent, dramatic mutations that seem far too useful to have arisen by chance from pollution, disease, or any other random catastrophe.

Madhusree is now a biology student, proud of her parents’ unacknowledged work, and with no memories of the trauma of the war to discourage her, she decides to join a multinational expedition being mounted to investigate the new phenomenon. Unable to cast off his fears for her safety, Prabir reluctantly follows her. But travel between the scattered islands is difficult, and Madhusree has covered her tracks. In the hope of finding her, Prabir joins up with an independent scientist, Martha Grant, who has come to search for both clues to the mystery and whatever commercial benefits it might bring to her sponsor. As Prabir and Martha begin to untangle the secret of Teranesia, Prabir is forced to confront his past, and to face the painful realities that have shaped his life.


Schild's Ladder

Schild’s Ladder

This edition available in the USA only

Cass opened her eyes. Lifting her head to peer through a portal, still strapped to the bed at the waist, she could just make out the Quietener: a blue glint reflecting off the hull a million kilometres away. Mimosa Station had so little room to spare that she’d had to settle for a body two millimetres high, which rendered her vision less acute than usual. The combination of weightlessness, vacuum, and insectile dimensions did make her feel pleasantly robust, though: her mass had shrunk a thousand times more than the cross-sections of her muscles and tendons, so the pressures and strains involved in any collision were feather-light. Even if she charged straight into a ceramic wall, it felt like being stopped by a barricade of petals.

It was a pity the same magical resilience couldn’t apply to her encounters with less tangible obstacles. She’d left Earth with no guarantee that the Mimosans would see any merit in her proposal, but it was only in the last few days that she’d begun to face up to the possibility of a bruising rejection. She could have presented her entire case from home, stoically accepting a seven-hundred-and-forty-year delay between each stage of the argument. Or she could have sent a Surrogate, well-briefed but non-sentient, to plead on her behalf. But she’d succumbed to a mixture of impatience and a sense of proprietorship, and transmitted herself blind.

Now the verdict was less than two hours away.

For twenty thousand years, every observable phenomenon in the universe has been successfully explained by the Sarumpaet Rules: the laws governing the dynamics of the quantum graphs that underlie all the constituents of matter and the geometric structure of spacetime. Now Cass has stumbled on a set of quantum graphs that might comprise the fundamental particles of an entirely different kind of physics, and she has travelled three hundred and seventy light years to Mimosa Station, a remote experimental facility, in the hope of bringing this tantalising alternative to life. The “novo-vacuum” is predicted to begin decaying the instant it’s created, but even a short-lived, microscopic speck could shed light on the origins of the universe, and test the Sarumpaet Rules more rigorously than ever before.

Cass’s experiment turns out to be more successful than anticipated: the novo-vacuum is more stable than the ordinary vacuum around it, and a region in which the new physics holds sway proceeds to expand out from Mimosa at half the speed of light.

Six hundred years later, more than two thousand inhabited systems have been lost to the novo-vacuum. On the Rindler, a ship that has matched velocities with the encroaching border, people have come from throughout inhabited space to study the phenomenon. Most are Preservationists, hunting for a way to turn back the tide, but a few belong to another faction: Yielders, who believe that the challenge of adapting to survive on the far side of the border would reinvigorate a civilisation that has grown stale and insular.

Tchicaya has come to the Rindler to join the Yielders, but when Mariama — a childhood friend whose example inspired him to abandon his own home world and traditions for a life of travel — arrives soon after, he is shocked to discover that she plans to help the Preservationists find a way to destroy the novo-vacuum.

As a theoretical breakthrough leads to a sequence of experiments that begins to reveal the true richness of the world behind the border, tensions between the opposing factions grow. When a splinter group responds to these revelations with violent, unilateral action, Tchicaya and Mariama are forced into an uneasy alliance, and travel together through the border, balancing old and new loyalties against the fate of two incomparably different universes.


Luminous

Luminous

This edition available in the USA only

In September 2004, not long after my twelfth birthday, I entered a state of almost constant happiness. It never occurred to me to ask why. Though school included the usual quota of tedious lessons, I was doing well enough academically to be able to escape into daydreams whenever it suited me. At home, I was free to read books and web pages about molecular biology and particle physics, quaternions and galactic evolution, and to write my own Byzantine computer games and convoluted abstract animations. And though I was a skinny, uncoordinated child, and every elaborate, pointless organized sport left me comatose with boredom, I was comfortable enough with my body on my own terms. Whenever I ran – and I ran everywhere – it felt good.

I had food, shelter, safety, loving parents, encouragement, stimulation. Why shouldn’t I have been happy? And though I can’t have entirely forgotten how oppressive and monotonous classwork and schoolyard politics could be, or how easily my usual bouts of enthusiasm were derailed by the most trivial problems, when things were actually going well for me I wasn’t in the habit of counting down the days until it all turned sour. Happiness always brought with it the belief that it would last, and though I must have seen this optimistic forecast disproved a thousand times before, I wasn’t old and cynical enough to be surprised when it finally showed signs of coming true.

From “Reasons to Be Cheerful”

Luminous is a collection of ten stories:

Also available as a print-on-demand paperback from Amazon (USA) and hardback from Amazon (USA).


Oceanic

Oceanic

This edition available in the USA only

She stepped forward, then reached down and took his hand. “Do you think you can walk?” Her grip was firm, and her skin was cool and dry. She was completely unafraid; she might have been a good Samaritan in a public street helping an old man to his feet after a fall — not an intruder helping a threat to national security break out of therapeutic detention, at the risk of being shot on sight.

“I’m not even sure I can stand.” Robert steeled himself; maybe this woman was a trained assassin, but it would be too much to presume that if he cried out in pain and brought guards rushing in, she could still extricate him without raising a sweat. “You haven’t answered my question.”

“My name’s Helen.” She smiled and hoisted him to his feet, looking at once like a compassionate child pulling open the jaws of a hunter’s cruel trap, and a very powerful, very intelligent carnivore contemplating its own strength. “I’ve come to change everything.”

Robert said, “Oh, good.”

From “Oracle”

Oceanic is a collection of twelve stories, including the Hugo-award-winning “Oceanic”:

Also available as a print-on-demand paperback from Amazon (USA) and hardback from Amazon (USA).


Dichronauts

Dichronauts

This edition available only outside the USA and Canada

Five steps forward
Three steps right
Are four steps off the path
But keep you safe in sight

Three steps forward
Five steps right
Are four steps into Sider Land
Out of the light

— Children’s rhyme

Seth is a surveyor, along with his friend Theo, a leech-like creature running through his skull who tells Seth what lies to his left and right. Theo, in turn, relies on Seth for mobility, and for ordinary vision looking forwards and backwards. Like everyone else in their world, they are symbionts, depending on each other to survive.

In the universe containing Seth’s world, light cannot travel in all directions: there is a “dark cone” to the north and south. Seth can only face to the east (or the west, if he tips his head backwards). If he starts to turn to the north or south, his body stretches out across the landscape, and to rotate to face north-east is every bit as impossible as accelerating to the speed of light.

Every living thing in Seth’s world is in a state of perpetual migration as they follow the sun’s shifting orbit and the narrow habitable zone it creates. Cities are being constantly disassembled at one edge and rebuilt at the other, with surveyors mapping safe routes ahead.

But when Seth and Theo join an expedition to the edge of the habitable zone, they discover a terrifying threat: a fissure in the surface of the world, so deep and wide that no one can perceive its limits. As the habitable zone continues to move, the migration will soon be blocked by this unbridgeable void, and the expedition has only one option to save its city from annihilation: descend into the unknown.


Instantiation

Instantiation

This edition available WORLDWIDE

The doors opened and he stepped into the elevator. “Seven,” he grunted.

“Ground floor,” the elevator replied.

Seven,” Dan repeated emphatically.

The doors closed, and the elevator descended.

When it reached the lobby, he stepped out, then quickly stepped back in. “Seventh floor,” he requested breezily, hoping that a change of tone and body language might be enough to fool it.

The doors remained open. He waited, as if he could wear the thing down by sheer persistence, or shame it into changing its mind, the way Janice could melt a night-club bouncer’s stony heart with one quiver of her bottom lip. But if his access was revoked, it was revoked; magical thinking wouldn’t bring it back.

He raised his face to the button-sized security camera on the ceiling and silently mouthed a long string of expletives, making sure not to repeat himself; if it ended up in some YouTube compilation he didn’t want to look lame. Then he walked out of the elevator, across the lobby, and out of the building without looking back.

From “The Discrete Charm of the Turing Machine”

Instantiation is a collection of eleven stories:

Also available as a print-on-demand paperback from Amazon (USA), Amazon (UK), Amazon (Australia) etc., and hardback from Amazon (USA), Amazon (UK), etc. (the hardback option is currently limited to fewer Amazon stores than the paperback).


The Book of All Skies

The Book of All Skies

This edition available WORLDWIDE

The front cover of the volume sitting before her was a piece of hardboard, cleaved by three deep fractures, crisscrossed by a dozen shallower cuts and crumbling at the corners, but otherwise more or less intact. The title was carved in grooves and pits that would have been dyed for the sake of contrast, but were always meant to be as amenable to reading by touch as by sight. Time and grit had bleached and scoured the surface, and Del was unwilling to lay even her gloved fingertips upon it, but as she moved one thumb back and forth in the space above the board and watched the shadows distorted by each dip, the letters took shape. This sequence of words in the Tollean language was not unfamiliar to her, even if she had only seen it before in citations. But this was it, the thing itself, as solid and present as it had been to those authors who had casually invoked it, to criticise or praise, a thousand generations ago. The Book of All Skies was here, sitting on a shelf in the Museum of Apasa, just waiting for her to render it into a fit state to be read, understood, valorised and disputed all over again.

Del lives in a world of many skies: by passing through the Hoops embedded in the ground, her people can walk freely between land that lies beneath a new set of constellations for every circuit they make around the edge of a Hoop.

When archaeologists find a copy of the famed Book of All Skies, Del takes delivery of the manuscript in her role as conservator at the Museum of Apasa, hoping it will shed light on the fate of the Tolleans, the ancient civilisation that produced it. But when the book is stolen, the theft sets in motion a series of events that will see her travelling farther than she had ever imagined possible, and her understanding of her world and its history irrevocably transformed.

Also available as a print-on-demand paperback from Amazon (USA), Amazon (UK), Amazon (Australia) etc., and hardback from Amazon (USA), Amazon (UK), etc. (the hardback option is currently limited to fewer Amazon stores than the paperback).




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