The good news is that you have just awakened into Eternal Life. You are going to live forever. Immortality is a reality. A medical miracle? Not exactly.
The bad news is that you are a scrap of electronic code. The world you see around you, the you that is seeing it, has been digitized, scanned, and downloaded into a virtual reality program. You are a Copy that knows it is a copy.
The good news is that there is a way out. By law, every Copy has the option of terminating itself, and waking up to normal flesh-and-blood life again. The bail-out is on the utilities menu. You pull it down...The bad news is that it doesn't work. Someone has blocked the bail-out option. And you know who did it. You did. The other you. The real you. The one that wants to keep you here forever.
Greg Egan concocts a fascinating and thought-provoking novel that explores the role of technology in creating alternate realities, blurring the lines between what is "real" and what isn't. In this future world of globalized economy and devastating climate change, Paul Durham has scanned multiple "Copies" of himself into his computer and becomes entangled with Maria, an Autoverse aficionado. Egan raises interesting questions about artificial intelligence and morality within a technological world, and it's a high concept that is brought to life by Adam Epstein, whose measured performance and faintly rumbling voice adds a palpable and dramatic intrigue to Permutation City.
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Interesting if you take your time
The story and concepts are fantastic but is let down a little by the narration.
Islands in the Net or any Hard SciFi / Cyberpunk
There are a few comments here saying Adam Epstein's performance is terrible. While not the best performance in the world it was definitely listenable and once I got used to the way he narrated I began to listen to longer chunks and enjoy the narration.
Some of the concepts introduced in the book held my attention a lot more than the actual story.
Concepts gave me something to think about after I finished the book. Give it a chance and take your time with it.
A great book that deserves a much better narrator
The story here is interesting and pushes some big boundaries in hard science fiction - what constitutes reality? Is a simulation of reality in which 'consciousness' can arise any less real than reality itself? But the narration is a barrier to anything better than a 2/5 overall score. If that was better, I would gladly raise this to 4/5.
No. The accent is too strong, and the pitch and timbre get in the way of the story. The accents aren't very good and one - Repetto's cod-Italian - was almost enough to make me stop listening altogether. Only the fact I was already a good way toward the end made me hold on.
I loved the story - I just didn't love the performance. If you can (somehow) put the narration out of your mind, you might be able to enjoy the story. I couldn't.
I would have continued with more Greg Egan stuff, had it had a different narrator. Shame.
- John Hawksley