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Empty Space: A Haunting

av M. John Harrison

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

Serier: The Kefahuchi Tract (3)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
2121096,903 (3.86)9
EMPTY SPACE is a space adventure. We begin with the following dream: An alien research tool the size of a brown dwarf star hangs in the middle of nowhere, as a result of an attempt to place it equidistant from everything else in every possible universe. Somewhere in the fractal labyrinth beneath its surface, a woman lies on an allotropic carbon deck, a white paste of nanomachines oozing from the corner of her mouth. She is neither conscious nor unconscious, dead nor alive. There is something wrong with her cheekbones. At first you think she is changing from one thing into another -- perhaps it's a cat, perhaps it's something that only looks like one -- then you see that she is actually trying to be both things at once. She is waiting for you, she has been waiting for you for perhaps 10,000 years. She comes from the past, she comes from the future. She is about to speak-- EMPTY SPACE is a sequel to LIGHT and NOVA SWING, three strands presented in alternating chapters which will work their way separately back to this image of frozen transformation.… (mer)
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This book focuses equally hard on both the inner space of the mind trapped in the quantum foam of the universe where neither time nor cats can be extricated, and upon the vastness of space that is slowly, inextricably showing us all that we don't quite fit in it and it wants to tell you, slowly, exactly why... by transforming us all.

Of course, we really oughtn't take it personally. After all, every other alien race had to discover it for themselves and probably went mad in the attempt to make sense of it, just like we are.

Space and time are unimaginably big and empty. Shouldn't that give us a clue?

This is space opera to a much larger degree than the second book and arguably more than the first, although the first book in the trilogy had the joys of extremely interesting scenes being seen for the first time, while the third kinda felt like a travelogue of odd transformations taking the form of quantum viruses and macro horrors, and all the while, it always seems to boil down to sex in one fashion or another.

I can't even begin to describe to you how many times the characters enter a scene needing to pull up their underwear or pull it down or otherwise be the act of disrobing or finding others doing so. It's almost always sexual, and the way the author pulls it off is not unconsciously and it actually serves a huge purpose. We've been seeing it occur all the time throughout all three novels and it always has some sort of element that is either ordinary or transformative, and usually always becomes a scene of ultimate joy or transcendent experience. The same is true for when the explorer enters the anomaly or how he never wanted to leave again or even when Anna finds herself locked in the quantum foam for 10,000 years.

The mirroring between the first and the last book in the trilogy is rather fantastic, but only in retrospect.

In actual fact, this book is almost the equivalent of James Joyce's [b:Ulysses|338798|Ulysses|James Joyce|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1428891345s/338798.jpg|2368224]. Her long final scene is reminiscent of a daydream that eventually always returns to sex, but in this case, things are very, very weird and dare I say it: More Complex. This book deserves quite a bit of close and careful reading and no one will deny the excellent passages studded throughout it.

I read somewhere that the book lends itself to an interpretation that it was all a dream, but I have to disagree. It is our reality that most resembles the dream. Quantum physics, itself, is not reconcilable with the macro universe we perceive, and yet it is much more valid than our solid reality. We might be able to make certain assumptions and wild conjectures about consensual realities and observation, but Harrison never gives us a clear and pat answer, only the brokenness of the inner (the quantum) and the outer (the perceivable reality).

I might even posit that the fact that all these alien species managed to specialize their own brands of physics so far and the fact that each brand is exclusive to all the others is a glaring clue as to the theme of the books. All these different physics invalidated each other. And yet, as long as the aliens believed their higher maths, their brands of FTL always worked.

In our breakneck desires to unlock the anomaly, we did so because we believed we could, that it would bring us happiness. The more people that got caught up in the dream, the larger the dream and the more area it transformed, and it was whole areas of the Earth. In the third book, the base desire, almost as powerful as sex, itself, is transforming other colonies, too. And in the heart of it, the one person that is still outside of the actual breech, we have the half-woman half-cat surfer of many-dimensions and the surfer of her own mind, perhaps for eternity. Half in the quantum and half in the perceivable reality.

I mention all of this because the book got under my skin and it does NOT make any of this plain to us. Instead, it goes along being clever and idea-rich and surprising and dreamlike and super post-cyberpunk and super high-physics spaceships with adventure. And it happens to make many subtle points, besides.

To say that I'm impressed is kinda an understatement. This is a serious work. All three of these novels are serious works.

Never let anyone tell you that Science Fiction can't be literary and deep while at the same time being flashy, exploratory, and crude, because it can, and it can do it with SCIENCE. :)


( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
At no point in this novel did I have any idea what was going on. ( )
  chaosfox | Feb 22, 2019 |
Brilliant ending to a brilliant trilogy. ( )
  deeronthecurve | Jan 19, 2017 |
M John Harrison is an author you either get, or don't. To me he is one of the finest writers alive today. The breadth of his imagination is staggering.

Empty Space is the third and final (?) book in the Kefahuchi Tract trilogy that began with Light, continued with Nova Swing and concludes here. Characters from both previous books reappear as he weaves a story set in the far future with one set in present day earth. For me this has the edge over Nova Swing precisely because of that duality. The story of Anna Waterman and her fragile mental health provides an emotional counterpoint to the science fiction noir of the far future travails of the crew of Nova Swing, a nameless, dangerous policewoman and a mysterious government agent.

The whole thing hinges on the mystery of the Tract itself and an enigmatic object called The Aleph. No one really knows what this is. There's the Nova Swing on a wild goose chase, collecting parts of a travelling carnival. There are strange events, even stranger characters and a plot that is so hard to summarise it isn't worth my while attempting to so so!

But it is the hallucinatory text that grabs you. Harrison describes a future mired in "bad psychics", the direct result of the effects of the Kefahuchi Tract. His prose is full of disturbing imagery. Even the Anna Waterman chapters have a dreamlike quality to them, her disordered life affecting both her estranged daughter and her psychiatrist. In the end you are left wondering whether the whole thing was a figment of her imagination. It is an ambitious, enthralling novel.

You may hate it. I thought it was wonderful. ( )
1 rösta David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
M. John Harrisonprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Jensen, BruceOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Popovich, AmyFormgivaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Wade, MarthaOmslagsformgivaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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"No point is more central than this, that empty space is not empty. It is the seat of the most violent physics."

--John A Wheeler
"Our instruments have limits. Since knowledge of physical reality depends on what we can measure, we will never know all there is to know...Much better to accept that our knowledge of physical reality is necessarily incomplete..." --Marcelo Gleister
"In a certain sense, everything is everywhere at all times." -- A E van Vogt
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EMPTY SPACE is a space adventure. We begin with the following dream: An alien research tool the size of a brown dwarf star hangs in the middle of nowhere, as a result of an attempt to place it equidistant from everything else in every possible universe. Somewhere in the fractal labyrinth beneath its surface, a woman lies on an allotropic carbon deck, a white paste of nanomachines oozing from the corner of her mouth. She is neither conscious nor unconscious, dead nor alive. There is something wrong with her cheekbones. At first you think she is changing from one thing into another -- perhaps it's a cat, perhaps it's something that only looks like one -- then you see that she is actually trying to be both things at once. She is waiting for you, she has been waiting for you for perhaps 10,000 years. She comes from the past, she comes from the future. She is about to speak-- EMPTY SPACE is a sequel to LIGHT and NOVA SWING, three strands presented in alternating chapters which will work their way separately back to this image of frozen transformation.

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