Axiomatic – Greg Egan (1995)
This is an interesting collection of Egan’s published stories from the early Nineties, many of which examine the Dickian issue of what it means to be conscious and how we define ‘the personality’. Egan often looks at this question from intriguing and sometimes oblique angles.
The Infinite Assassin (1991)
Interzone 48 – June 1991
The protagonist is a man employed because his self tends to remain consistent across infinite realities in a worlds where a drug called S allows access to these parallel worlds. His job is to track down the few people who do not just dream their alternate lives but drag the rest of us in there with them.
The Hundred Light-Year Diary (1992)
Interzone 55 – January 1992
The conceit behind this story is that we have discovered a reverse universe running backwards and can receive ‘diaries’ from those who have already lived their lives identically to ours. Thus one can review one’s life in advance. However, the question is how much of the truth would be included?
Interzone 36 – June 1990
A satirical tale of eugenics and designer baby making
The Caress (1990)
Asimov’s – Jan 1990
A detective in the near future investigating a homicide finds a chimera with the body of a leopard and the head of a woman and becomes embroiled in a strange world of bioengineering and art.
Blood Sisters (1991)
Interzone 44 – February 1991
A story of twin sisters who take different oaths in life, and one of whom becomes the victim of a genetic disease. the tale however, takes an unexpected direction.
Interzone 41 – November 1991
Egan examines one of the possible outcomes of a society where one can purchase implants to change the foundations of one’s personality in order to remove deep seated feelings like grief, religious belief or inhibitions, or to implant them.
The Safe-Deposit Box (1990)
Asimov’s – September 1990
A rather complex tale of a man who wakes up every day in the same city but in a different body
A future boss of a movie studios awakens after an assassination experience to discover that he is viewing himself from a point near the ceiling.
A Kidnapping (1995)
A wealthy man receives a videocall telling him that they ‘have his wife’ and demanding a ransom. Another examination of what it means – objectively in this case – for a personality to be copied.
Learning to Be Me (1990)
Interzone #37 – July 1990
The Ndoli Jewel – as featured in other Egan stories – is at the centre of this tale of a question of identity.
The Moat (1991)
Aurealis #3 – 1991
A future Australia in an overpopulated world where a lawyer working for displaced immigrants is disturbed by his fiancee’s tales of a rapist’s sperm samples having no discernible DNA. A clever story that manages to cover contemporary issues obliquely.
The Walk (1992)
Asimov’s – December 1992
A man is forced at gunpoint to inhale a neural implant that will alter his viewpoint and beliefs.
The Cutie (1989)
Interzone #29 – May 1989
A rather poignant story set in a world where one can buy a designer baby implanted with a suicide gene that kicks in at four years old.
Into Darkness (1992)
Asimov’s – January 1992
Reminiscent of Budrys’ ‘Rogue Moon’, this is an excerpt from the life of a specialised rescue worker, one who runs through the rando wormholes that have appeared to plague the world. One can run through them in one direction when they appear and hope that you can rescue people who have been trapped inside, as one can only go forward. If you try to turn back, you will die. You must carry on to the other end and hope to get out before the wormhole collapses.
Appropriate Love (1991)
Interzone #50 – August 1991
In a future healthcare insurance scenario, a wife has to have her husband’s comatose brain implanted into her body until his clone body has grown to the point where the brain can be replaced. What effect, however, will this have on their relationship?
The Moral Virologist (1990)
Pulphouse #8 – Summer 1990
Egan takes a swipe at the madness of US Right Wing Christianity in a tale of a Christian Virologist who has designed a virus that will kill anyone who has sex with more than one person.
Eidolon #9 – Winter 1992
Another story based in the world of the ‘Ndoli Jewel’ where a couple decide to try and see what it is like to be each other.
Unstable Orbits in the Space of Lies (1992)
Interzone #61 – July 1992
A slightly Ian-Watson-esque story following an event in 2018 when everyone in the world became mentally susceptible to each other’s deepest beliefs. Consequently those who believed similar things joined together and ‘attractor’ wells formed, while those whose beliefs are fairly agnostic – such as the narrator – wander the world in the gaps between, pulled by the various tides of belief.