YouTube teasers for Egan's science fiction novel Incandescence: 1 / 2
(hat tip pierre) (the second one gives me chills)
Bought and read the book shortly after it came out last spring. Some Amazon readers complain it's anticlimactic and overly "teachy." It is, but still mind-expanding. It's been compared to the Hal Clement "Mission of Gravity" novels, and that's fair, but with an extra layer of Egan lore: synthetic minds backing themselves up before zooming across the galaxy as electronically beamed data, etc. One almost needs to read certain of his books in publication order to "get" the Egan universe--to some extent each builds on the previous (Quarantine, Permutation City, Diaspora, Schild's Ladder). The new one lacks the scope and characters of some of the forerunners: it's almost a short story or vignette with the goal of teaching you physics from the point of view of intelligent primitives. You work as a reader because the characters work--their lives depend on solving a specific set of experiments, and the book suggests (without necessarily meaning to) that we're all going to have put on our academic beanies before it's all over.
Another book Incandescence remotely resembles, at least in a theme of eleventh-hour, collective problem-tackling in the face of ultimate peril, is Theodore Sturgeon's To Marry Medusa. Egan occupies the frigid end of the emotional thermometer relative to Ted's febrile sentimentality, however.