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Marilee J. Layman

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06:21 pm: Distress by Greg Egan
This was published in 1995 and is set in 1955. I'm going to give this to you in three parts -- the new technology, the gender changes, and the plot.

Egan has brought in a lot of technology that he thinks will come in the 2020s, but already exist in our time -- autism is caused by the fictional Lamont's area in the brain, while we know that the largest cause so far is that the mother was older. He thinks that the networks (Internet/web) are new and everybody has left cities to live in suburbs. We already have the networks but people are moving into the cities. A security gate uses microwaves to see if you have guns or explosives. There's a notepad that works just like iPad, but you can use it for phone, too.

In gender, he's brought in some that don't seem to make much difference to the story. He says the gender morphism has just started happening in 2055, but it's fairly well going now. There's asex, where there's no indication of gender on the person or in their mind. There's umale and ufemale which have been made more male or female. There's imale/female and enfemale/male, which I never found definitions of, and hermaphrodites.

The story starts when Andew Worth, a telejournalist, is finishing a junk science show for SeeNet, the company that hires him most often. They ask him to do a show on a new disease called "Distress" -- where people scream and wave their limbs -- but he thinks he's done enough like that and would like the documentary about Violet Mosala, a physicist who will be at a Theory of Everything conference on Stateless, a grown island. Another telejournalist, Sarah, also wanted the Mosala show, but Andrew talked their producer into letting him have it.

The telejournalists have their optic nerves changed to take in what they're seeing and store it in a chip in their abdomen. There's a port in the abdomen that lets them transfer the info to another device.

Andrew is barely on Stateless when Akili, an asex, meets him and tells him that Violet is in danger. There are a lot of ignorance cults on the island to make fun of the three physicists (one dies in Japan) who are going to give their TOE, and the Anthrocosmologists are the worse. It turns out they are trying to kill lots of people so that one of the physicists will be the Keystone, which is the person who knows the TOE first. As it happens, they're wrong, it's Violet's that is right and before she dies, she puts together software to finish her equations. The ACs say not to let it out or they'll kill Andrew.

There were a lot of physics dumps and convolutions. Even though parts of it bored me, there were three surprises near the very end and I'm almost never surprised when I read books. You would need to be willing to read all the physics to read the book.

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