Greg Egan click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author. Egan's "Orthogonal Trilogy" explains how the Peerless and its crew of scientists, mathematicians and engineers was launched in the hope if find a way to save their homeworld from destruction. A major focus is on the way physics and biology would be different in a universe where the laws of physics were different. As you probably know, according to the theory of relativity, the crew of a space ship that traveled quickly away from Earth and back would return to find that many years had passed here at home for each year they experienced on the ship.
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In soft sci-fi, the physics is ad-hoc, created as needed to serve the story, with no consistent theory behind it; only its outlines are apparent, with the details glossed-over. Conversely, hard sci-fi pursues a more committed relationship with the laws of physics.
While the author may still add new physics for story purposes—cheap faster-than-light travel being a popular choice—it is constructed in a way that makes it fit in with real-world physics; it is plausible that there could be a deeper theory behind it. The details have been well-thought-out and may be discussed at length; likewise, the technologies encountered in the story have been conceived with real-world engineering principles in mind.
Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein or Larry Niven; Peter F. Usually, if an author wants an interstellar civilization, he or she must introduce wormholes, hyperspace, warp drive, or some other method of getting characters from one place to another without them dying of old age. Not Greg Egan. In his books set in the Amalgam, a galaxy-spanning civilization millions of years in the future, people travel at the speed of light—by having their minds digitized, broadcast across space in a laser pulse, and loaded at the destination into an artificial body built to their specifications.
A round trip to another star may take hundreds or thousands of years, but their friends and family at home will still be there—aging and unintentional death having long since been abolished. What makes this series so special is that Egan has not simply created fictional characters, planets and technologies; in these books he brings to life an entire alternate physics—and not just a set of ad-hoc phenomena created to enable a story, but a physics with a depth, consistency, and unity comparable to the real thing.
He is able to do this because his physics closely parallels ours. Egan makes one decisive change: flipping a sign from negative to positive in the metric of spacetime, so that in his universe, spacetime is locally Euclidean instead of locally Minkowski. He then rebuilds the central theories of modern physics, including relativity, thermodynamics, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics, on this modified foundation—and finds many fascinating and surprising consequences. He works out the properties of a world that obeys this alternate physics, then sets a story in that world.
The concept is breathtakingly elegant: a simple change to one critical equation is the seed from which grows a rich fictional cosmos, replete with strange and beautiful phenomena that are quite logically and mathematically sound, yet unknown to us. The novels contain no equations, but you will frequently see graphs and diagrams illustrating the theories and experiments the characters pursue.
And they practice science the same way we do. This is another reason these books are valuable: they depict the day-to-day activities of scientists doing science, with a taste of the confusion, argument, squabbling over resources, and political maneuvering that make real-world science so maddening—and the occasional moments of clarity and triumph that make it worthwhile.
Finally, in addition to everything else, the Orthogonal novels are feminist novels. In their world, just as in ours, traditional attitudes hold women to be subordinate to men, and institutionalized sexism is the norm.
A common thread recurring throughout Orthogonal is that of women challenging and overcoming the resistance of male authorities, colleagues, friends and family to secure professional advancement, personal liberty, or even just physical safety from those men who would do violence to them.
Egan aims for a realistic depiction of science, and he does not shy away from the sexism that sadly remains a very real and tangible aspect of science—and of our society in general. But these are far from being textbooks in a veneer of plot—they tell a powerful story with inspiring characters whose struggles and choices are as remarkable as the strange laws of their world.
In soft sci-fi, the physics is ad-hoc, created as needed to serve the story, with no consistent theory behind it; only its outlines are apparent, with the details glossed-over. Conversely, hard sci-fi pursues a more committed relationship with the laws of physics. While the author may still add new physics for story purposes—cheap faster-than-light travel being a popular choice—it is constructed in a way that makes it fit in with real-world physics; it is plausible that there could be a deeper theory behind it. The details have been well-thought-out and may be discussed at length; likewise, the technologies encountered in the story have been conceived with real-world engineering principles in mind.
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Orthogonal is a science fiction trilogy by Australian author Greg Egan taking place in a universe where, rather than three dimensions of space and one of time, there are four fundamentally identical dimensions. The plot involves the inhabitants of a planet that comes under threat from a barrage of high-velocity meteors known as 'hurtlers', who launch a generation ship that exploits the distinctive relativistic effects present in this universe which allow far more time to elapse on the ship than passes on the home world, in order for the ship's inhabitants to have enough time to develop the technology needed to protect the planet. The three novels deal with a succession of increasingly advanced scientific discoveries, as well as a number of radical social changes in the culture of the generation ship's passengers. Technically, the space-time of the universe portrayed in the novels has a positive-definite Riemannian metric , rather than a pseudo-Riemannian metric, which is the kind that describes our own universe. The first novel of the trilogy, The Clockwork Rocket , was published in ,  the second, The Eternal Flame , in ,  and the third, The Arrows of Time , in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved 17 May
The Clockwork Rocket
When Yalda was almost three years old, she was entrusted with the task of bearing her grandfather into the forest to convalesce. Dario had been weak and listless for days, refusing to move from the flower bed where the family slept. Yalda had seen him this way before, but it had never lasted so long. Her father had sent word to the village, and when Doctor Livia came to the farm to examine Dario, Yalda and two of her cousins, Claudia and Claudio, stayed close to watch the proceedings. After squeezing and prodding the old man all over with more hands than most people used in a day, Doctor Livia announced her diagnosis. The crops here are virtually monochromatic; your body needs a broader spectrum of illumination.