Axiomatic is a collection of science fiction short stories by Greg Egan.
Most science fiction fans these days would agree what when it comes to hard science fiction, Greg Egan is one of the best. In ten years he has given us a good handful of novels, all every much driven by the laws of nature, as Egan saw fit to bend them. But he has also given us three collections of short stories. Axiomatic is the first.
I've read a few of Egans shorts else where, but I haven't really noticed them before, which is a real shame as they are often very, very good. I would go as far as to say that they are often better than his full length novels. With Egan being mainly an idea man, the short form suits him really well. Please note that I do not find Egan a bad writer, it's just that his writing are usually more idea driven, then driven by the prose. I've once compared the writing style of his early stuff to Asimov, and I stand by that, except that Egans characters has become better and better with time. Axiomatic contains:
The Infinite Assassin (20 pages): this novel could also be found in The Mammoth Collection of Science Fiction as recently reviewed at SFBook.com. It's infinitely close parallel worlds colliding.
The Hundred-Light-Year Diary (20 pages): When you get your own diary from the future and it turns out to be true, how much freedom is left?
Eugene (20 pages): When money isn't a problem and you want to give your child the best of the best, where's the limit? Do you give the world a genius if that's what the world needs?
The Caress (34 pages): Somebody has gone to awful lengths to creation a living half woman, half leopard creature.
Blood Sisters (24 pages): Identical twin sisters, get the same genetically based cancer and the same treatment, but one survive and the other one doesn't.
Axiomatic (18 pages): Once a bastard always a bastard.
The Safe-Deposit Box (24 pages): Probably one of the coolest stories in this collection. Every day the same person, in the same city, but in a new body.
Seeing (20 pages): What do you do about those annoying out of body experiences that just wont stop?
A Kidnapping (20 pages): It's more like a, you know, virtual kidnapping...
Learning to Be Me (20 pages): For how long does a perfect copy stay perfect?
The Moat (16 pages): A rapist without DNA?
The Walk (23 pages): A meme with a will to survive.
The Cutie (24 pages): Don't you hate it when things stop working right after the guarantee runs out? This story is just the other way around.
Into Darkness (24 pages): When running against time the only way you can run is forward. Now if you twist the four dimensions of space/time the only way you can run is towards the future.
Appropriate Love (20 pages): Where do you store your husbands brain while a new body is cloned for him? According to your insurance the cheapest place available!
The Moral Virologist (20 pages): The idea of letting the “one who is with out sin, throw the first stone”, falls flat to it's face the moment some madman thinks that he is without sin.
Closer (20 pages): I'll keep my thoughts on this one to my self.
Unstable Orbits in the Space of Lies (19 pages): Can anybody stay without belief, in a world where mind-sharing is a fact?
Eighteen stories and more than 350 pages. Not all of them are fantastic, but most of them are and that a lot more than what you can say about most collections! Some of the stories are kind of cute in their logic, but some of them are very dark and forceful, in the way they explore the darker sides of humanity.
Pick it up - now.
Written on 15th December 2002 by TC.
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