Paul uncovered his eyes, and looked around the room. Away from a few dazzling patches of direct sunshine, everything glowed softly in the diffuse light: the matte white brick walls, the imitation imitation mahogany furniture; even the posters — Bosch, Dali, Ernst, and Giger — looked harmless, domesticated. Wherever he turned his gaze if nowhere else , the simulation was utterly convincing; the spotlight of his attention made it so. Hypothetical light rays were being traced backwards from individual rod and cone cells on his simulated retinas, and projected out into the virtual environment to determine exactly what needed to be computed: a lot of detail near the centre of his vision, much less towards the periphery. Everything in the room was as finely resolved, at any given moment, as it needed to be to fool him — no more, no less.
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Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Permutation City by Greg Egan. The story of a man with a vision - immortality : for those who can afford it is found in cyberspace.
Permutation city is the tale of a man with a vision - how to create immortality - and how that vision becomes something way beyond his control. Encompassing the lives and struggles of an artificial life junkie desperate to save her dying mother, a billionaire banker scarred The story of a man with a vision - immortality : for those who can afford it is found in cyberspace. Encompassing the lives and struggles of an artificial life junkie desperate to save her dying mother, a billionaire banker scarred by a terrible crime, the lovers for whom, in their timeless virtual world, love is not enough - and much more - Permutation city is filled with the sense of wonder.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published October 1st by HarperPrism first published April More Details Original Title. Subjective Cosmology 2. Dick Award Nominee , John W. Campbell Memorial Award Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Permutation City , please sign up. Do I first need to read Quarantine to appreciate and understand Permutation City?
Will I be fine just reading Permutation City and maybe going back and reading Quarantine? Ray You don't need to read Quarantine. These three books aren't really a series at all, according to the author. See 2 questions about Permutation City…. Lists with This Book.
Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Permutation City Subjective Cosmology 2. Sep 03, BlackOxford rated it it was amazing Shelves: kabbalah , philosophy-theology , australian. Fractious Fakes What happens when your virtual clone hates your guts? Instead of language taking on an alternat Fractious Fakes What happens when your virtual clone hates your guts? Instead of language taking on an alternative meaning from its literal referents, he has people taking on the literal qualities of language - vocabulary, grammar, and effects.
This is Tohu , the Shattering of the Vessels through which the original unity of the universe is broken into fragments, both physical and spiritual. Tohu happens psychically as well for individuals. That is, bits of the Self are strewn about creation in a most unsatisfactory and unhappy state. These spiritual bits can become quite unruly in their condition of fragmented isolation.
They are desperate to end their loneliness by re-integrating with the original whole. This is Tikkun , a sort of reconstruction of psychic pieces into a new entity.
If anything were to impede this process, an aberrant techno-savvy Kabbalist for example, there is an interesting story to be told. And Egan tells the story masterfully. I can only marvel at how he finds his inspiration for a high-tech tale in an ancient wisdom like Kabbalah, and then proceeds to out-Kabbalah even the Kabbalists with his creativity.
View all 22 comments. Jul 08, Apatt rated it really liked it. I don't read a lot of hard sf because my understanding of science is rudimentary at best, but I do tend to enjoy it when I read one that do not go too far over my head. I feel I only need to understand the basic plot and the characters' motivation, the whys if not the hows of it. If those conditions are met then my patchy understanding of the scientific details is not too much of an impediment and the bits that get through to me tend to be quite fascinating.
So it is with Permutation City which h I don't read a lot of hard sf because my understanding of science is rudimentary at best, but I do tend to enjoy it when I read one that do not go too far over my head.
So it is with Permutation City which had me hooked from Chapter One which takes place inside a computer no, not the plastic casing! The opening scene where this simulated man "wakes up" and feel an unbearable disconnection from reality is like nothing I have ever read before. The story of this book is based on the author's "dust theory" which posits that: "There is no difference, even in principle, between physics and mathematics, and that all mathematically possible structures exist, among them our physics and therefore our spacetime.
To experiment on or delete such a person would be cruel and unethical, not to mention absolutely beastly. Virtual Reality as portrayed in this book is actually a layer of reality where actions tend to have consequences which are just as "real" to the people in this environment.
Without going into the synopsis this book is essentially about what constitute reality, an examination of the nature of the consciousness, and the implication and psychological impact of digitization of personalities for the original people and the "Copies".
This cover nicely depicts the virtual city. The sf trope of digitizing or simulating personalities utilized so well in Richard K. Morgan's Altered Carbon is done even better here. For me the sticking point of this trope is that I do not believe that the digital version of myself would really be me regardless of the accuracy of the backup, if I am dead and gone the digital replacement would bring me back to life. There is no "right answer" to this question, it depends on your personal belief.
However, the issue is very well explored here: "To me, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for the chance to be imitated by a computer after my death is just … farcical.
I still have a sense of proportion. Whatever a Copy of me might think, if one was ever run. How time can be slowed down in the virtual world the word "cyberspace" suddenly seems a bit quaint so that the time in reality just whizzes by.
There are "slow clubs" and slums for "Copies" of less well to do people who can not afford the expense of running their virtual counterparts in or near real time. Also the launching of an entirely new virtual universe. What ultimately makes this book worthwhile for me though is that it is about people and the "effects of technology on the human condition". I am always fascinated by the theme of how technology can change what it means to be human, and in order to explore this theme properly the characters need to be well developed and believable.
If they were just flat devices to service the plot it would render the theme completely ineffective. Egan did a very good job with characterization here, few of the characters are actually likable but they have their own virtues and flaws. As usual much of the science is beyond me and the book is completely devoid of humor not a necessity but always a bonus in serious novels. Definitely a worthwhile and fascinating read. Excellent Jo Walton 's review of this book.
Please refer to my Diaspora review for more details. View all 35 comments. If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. With this starts off one of the most astonishing short stories I've ever read.
If you haven't read it, I urge you to do so. Egan questions what it really means to be human in a way that it's quite unsurpassed in my mind. View 2 comments. The Book of Greg 1. And the LORD said, lo, for now seest thou through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now knowest thou in part; but then shalt thou know even as also I am known. And Greg said, come on God. Stop tantalising me with all this mystical bullshit and givest Thou me the straight dope.
And the LORD said, okay Greg, since thou askest so nicely: thy world is but a cellular automaton, here, let me give unto thee these stone tablets, on which I have graven The Book of Greg 1.
And the LORD said, okay Greg, since thou askest so nicely: thy world is but a cellular automaton, here, let me give unto thee these stone tablets, on which I have graven all the rules. Good stuff isn't it?
And Greg said, that's very interesting God, but I can tell there's more to it.
Since Permutation City was published in , many readers have raised the same issues with me, again and again. So, almost thirteen years later, here is a kind of self-interview on the most contentious aspects of the book. Q1: In the novel, Paul Durham runs a Copy of himself out of temporal order, skipping its mental state forward in time by ten seconds and then computing the intervening states backwards. Surely leaping over ten seconds of time without computing the intervening states would be impossible? So why did I include these scenes? Because this seemed like the simplest way to dramatise the notion that the arrangement of the successive states of the Copy in time or space should not affect its subjective experience. To give a trivial example, instead of storing and manipulating all the relevant quantities as binary floating-point numbers, they could be encoded in a variety of different schemes.
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Permutation City is a science-fiction novel by Greg Egan that explores many concepts, including quantum ontology , through various philosophical aspects of artificial life and simulated reality. Sections of the story were adapted from Egan's short story "Dust", which dealt with many of the same philosophical themes. Campbell Award for the best science-fiction novel of the year in and was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award the same year. The novel was also cited in a Scientific American article on multiverses by Max Tegmark.
I think there's value in what Egan is trying to do, but I think the task of weaving together deep understanding of mathematics and science with fiction of literary merit is in some sense so great an undertaking that it's ultimately beyond his ability. As someone trained in mathematics, I don't get the feeling of deep aesthetic appreciation from Egan's writing, rather, it appears like a superficially more complicated form of technobabble window-dressing. Of course, many people disagree with me That Egan quote which shows up over and over again, where he says that people should be prepared to work through the details with pen and paper, feels irksome for some reason I can't really put my finger on why though. The idea borrowed from Jorge Luis Borges, an aleph is an object that contains a virtually infinite amount of knowledge. Operating as a permanent virtual reality, the surface of the idea was only touched upon by Gibson, begging another writer to fully detail the idea.