Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Gollancz (7 Feb 2008)
Greg Egan at his best is one of the most ideas-rich writers in the Science Fiction field. Sometimes the ideas can get in the way ...
Here, we have a prologue in which a researcher into vacuum science gets transmitted to a station hundreds of light years from Earth, to try out some experiments in the most perfectly controlled area of empty space known. Unfortunately, her experiments on the raw vacuum itself create a phase change that expands out at half the speed of light, destroying all in front of it. That's a bit of a bummer.
And then we skip a long, long time, to the point that a sizeable chunk of the galaxy has been engulfed within the shining sphere. Two factions of researchers, one wishing to keep it (despite its regrettable tendency to destroy inhabited planets) and one that wants to stop it. Our protagonist is one of the former.
This is almost an advanced treatise on cosmology with an admixture of story. The result is rather heavy going.