Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Border Guards, by Greg Egan

Today I finished Border Guards, a Hugo-nominated novella from 2000. This one provides yet another reason to read lots of Greg Egan--a smoothly blended mix of hard science, strong characters, and probing of human nature. The story centers around Margit, a talented Quantum Soccer player new to the community of Noether. Noether is part of the New Territories, a mathematical extension of our familiar physical universe. You need to read it to get a decent explanation. What sets Margit apart is that she is old enough to have known death and suffering. These have been banished from existence, humans have complete control over their experiences and their minds are housed in nearly indestructible computers, fully backed up.

Unlike nearly all other authors exploring immortality, Egan presents it as pretty much a utopia. Life has been a long struggle to overcome death, and now the battle is won and there's no looking back. He rejects the dystopian visions as simple versions of the Naturalist fallacy--because death is inevitable for us now, we act as though overcoming it would be a bad thing.

It's unique, and I have to say I stand with the dystopians at this point. But it's a well stated case. Three stars

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