Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Review of Greg Egan's Teranesia

Hi all,

I finished Australian author Greg Egan's science fiction novel Teranesia a couple of weeks ago and have finally gotten around to this review. Egan is probably Australia's most critically-acclaimed, living, science fiction author - more so overseas than it would seem in Australia. According to the list on the front of the book, Teranesia is his sixth novel. I have also read his first novel Quarantine.

Teranesia is set mostly on islands near Indonesia in the near future. It has three main threads to resolve beginning with the bizarre mutations occurring to the local flora and fauna on the island. Then there is the self-loathing the main character Prabir Suresh experiences after his parents are killed: he believes he caused it. The third thread concerns his over protective attitude towards his sister Madhusree.

I actually found myself more concerned about the relationship aspects of the story then the science fiction aspects until the last third of the story where the mutations threatened to end any hope of Prabir resolving his issues. This is were Teranesia differs from Quarantine, which was all about the ideas. There is also less science jargon and information in Teranesia resulting in it flowing better.

I enjoyed the humour in Teranesia, whose exaggerated feminist academics reminded me of a couple of academics and students I ran into during my masters, where instead of discussing how a piece of feminist writing was constructed, they preferred to sprout on about the issues.

In the end though, I found Teranesia didn't quite deliver on the expectations I had from reading Quarantine. In Teranesia the relationship aspects were resolved and they discovered the implications of the mutations, but I had hoped for something more and, although his writing was stronger in Teranesia, I prefer the fantastical implications of Quarantine.

I received Egan's latest novel for Christmas so it will be interesting to see how much further his writing has progressed.


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