Greg Egan's The Clockwork Rocket introduced us to an exotic universe where the laws of physics are very different from our own, where the speed of light varies in ways Einstein would never allow, and where intelligent life has evolved in unique and fascinating ways. Now Egan continues his epic tale of alien beings embarked on a desperate voyage to save their world . . . .
The generation ship Peerless is in search of advanced technology capable of sparing their home planet from imminent destruction. In theory, the ship is traveling fast enough that it can traverse the cosmos for generations and still return home only a few years after they departed. But a critical fuel shortage threatens to cut their urgent voyage short, even as a population explosion stretches the ship's life-support capacity to its limits.
When the astronomer Tamara discovers the Object, a meteor whose trajectory will bring it within range of the Peerless, she sees a risky solution to the fuel crisis. Meanwhile, the biologist Carlo searches for a better way to control fertility, despite the traditions and prejudices of their society. As the scientists clash with the ship's leaders, they find themselves caught up in two equally dangerous revolutions: One in the sexual roles of their species, the other in their very understanding of the nature of matter and energy.
The Eternal Flame lights up the mind with dazzling new frontiers of physics and biology, as only Greg Egan could imagine them.
©2103 Greg Egan (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
"Eternal Flame" is the conclusion of a trilogy about a universe in which light has mass. The physics and biology of this universe are explained in great detail in the context of three stories about different sets of characters. The story ties the physics and biology problems to the lives of the characters in interesting ways. The conclusion of the story is interesting and appropriate. The performance by Adam Epstein is good.
"More mechanical than 'Clockwork Rocket'"
Because this sequel is such a direct continuation of events from Book 1 in the series, I recommend reading it quickly after that novel, so that you don't suffer the same confusion I did on returning to the series after many months. Like most of Egan's work, this story is a tribute to the process of scientific discovery, using a few characters and a plot, although only by necessity. Seriously, if you removed all the mathematical and laboratory discussions, you'd only have about 30 pages or so of narrative. Nonetheless, it has interesting ideas and a fairly strong feminist theme, as did "Clockwork Rocket".
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