I haven’t been this surprised and entertained by world building for a long time, and I was beginning to think I had outgrown science fiction. I hadn’t. I just didn’t know how far it could go.
The geometry of the world of Dichronauts is impossible to intuit, but Greg Egan describes it with such patience and clarity that it is also impossible to misunderstand. Flatland lies somewhere at the base of this book, but Egan far surpasses anything Abbott managed, both in playing with dimensions and the most brutal and poignant depiction of oppression I have ever seen in fiction.
This is why I love Egan’s work – he is absolutely unflinching. He never cuts corners with his world, his characters’ motivations, or the agonizing dilemmas in which they find themselves. They are people trying to do right in circumstances in which doing right is physically impossible. They get no magic wands to wave, no convenient shortcut to everyone’s best interests..
Like all of Egan’s work, Dichronauts is brilliant and sweet, heartbreaking and obscure. Having read it, I feel like I have some tools to tackle the real world as well.