Axiomatic (C) (1995)
My copy of Axiomatic is the second instance of one of Egan's books featuring a cover blurb that proclaims him as "one of the genre's great ideas man", attributed to The Times, a description I wholeheartedly concur with. This collection of 18 short stories, most of them previously published in various British, Australian, and American SF magazines, is a dazzling display of fresh ideas embedded in fine writing.
It would be tiring to describe each of the pieces in detail and picking out some over the others wouldn't do justice to the amazingly homogeneous quality of this collection. Each story centers around an idea, ranging from comparatively mundane matters such as bioengineering and post-humans to the bizarre worlds of exotic physics and sometimes even the unexplained surreal, taken as a "what if" approach, and carefully examines the complications arising from it. Every story is also about people. The people who must deal with the usually far-from-trivial consequences of the central idea both in normal and special circumstances. Or the people who now have the tools to fulfill their obsessions. Readers subscribing to Harlan Ellison's assertion that writing about the human condition is the only thing that counts will be as struck by Egan's creativity as those looking for "thunderous concepts flung through enormous vistas of space" or solid exercises in logic.
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