“Axiomatic”: Greg Egan wants to crack the human code

Greg Egan seeks to crack the code of our humanity and he does so with the rigor and language of an engineer. “Axiomatique” has just been released by Le Bélial.

What happens when you push the possibilities of science fiction to their pinnacle? The works of Greg Egan are an answer. No one has ever seen the face of this Australian writer, of which there are no photos on the web. Yet it is the pope of the hardcore SFthe kind that bases its stories on reliable scientific and technological knowledge.

Editions du Bélial has been offering, since March 10, 2022 in bookstores, a reissue ofAxiomatic — a collection of short stories originally published in 1995. The work mobilizes translations by Sylvie Denis, Francis Lustman, Francis Valéry and Quarante-Deux.

Although hard SF can be scary at first glance, there are good reasons to read Greg Egan. The first of these: having fun with the possible. But it’s the depth that will then leave a lasting mark on the news in your mind.

Technical language, big heart

My guts are knotting but I hold on. I know the same thing must be happening to others myself — but I declare, I define, that it is strangers who die. »

“Axiomatics”. Cover by Nicolas Fructus. // Source: Le Belial

Greg Egan is the king of mindblown. The very first short story of the collection, The Infinite Assassin, is none other than a frantic chase through parallel universes: a hitman must prevent people from disrupting reality. In question, drugs that allow you to cross parallel worlds.

Every short story is like this. As a starting point, there is a technological advance, if not a scientific or medical oddity, from which Greg Egan draws all the consequences as if he were stretching a rubber band to the last possible nanometer. The author applies himself to it like an engineer cracking a code, like an engineer carrying out an operation of the most extreme precision. The language is technical, the science is rigorous.

Is it therefore inaccessible? This is Egan’s strength as an author of hard SF: we understand (a minimum) what is going on. The level of difficulty of the stories varies from one text to another, and the editions of Bélial will decline all responsibility in the event of brain overheating, but you will never be completely left on the floor over the collection – news is easy to read. access and the most difficult will always find a point of attachment, not to mention that the mindblown sure to have fun.

The apparent technical coldness of the news, which results from an immense scientific rigor, warms up in the light of what really interests Greg Egan: the human. If there is one code that this mysterious SF author seeks to crack, it is that of our humanity.

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