Investigative reporter Andrew Worth turns down a documentary on a mysterious new mental illness - "Distress," or acute clinical anxiety syndrome, for another assignment. He's on his way to the artificial island of Stateless, where the world's top physicists are gathering to decide on a new TOE, or Theory of Everything, to replace Einstein's outmoded legacy.
Chief among the scientists is the brilliant African Nobel laureate, Violet Mosala, the focus of Worth's story, who is the subject of mysterious death threats. Worth begins his own investigation, but it takes on even more urgency when he finds that Distress, the mental plague now affecting millions, is linked somehow to the approaching "Aleph Moment" when the TOE is finalized.
The countdown has begun for a disaster that will reach all the way back to the Big Bang. And beyond...
Having just finished a documentary, journalist Andrew Worth heads to the artificial island of Stateless to cover a physics convention, where African Nobel Laureate Violet Masala is about to present her Theory of Everything. But the island idyll turns out to be anything but, as Stateless has been inundated with anti-science protestors who want to unleash a deadly disease that may destroy the world. Adam Epstein has a methodical approach that allows Greg Egan's impressive world-building to breathe and take shape, but Epstein is best at inhabiting the diverse characters whose clashes and conflict drive the drama in Distress.
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