Thursday, 21 August 2014

Can Patricia Return Home?

Greg Bear, Eon (London, 2002).

"She was searching for a universe without the Death, and without herself, also - where the Stone had arrived, but not caused war, and where her alternate had somehow died." (p. 468)

I had deduced that that is what Patricia wants to find but how can her instrument, the clavicle, help her to intuit whereabouts in the corridor is the appropriate place for her to open a gate into the universe that she wants to find? And not only that universe but Earth in that universe?

We are told that:

"What she was looking for was far more difficult to find than a particular grain of sand on a beach." (ibid.)

But surely that makes it impossible?

"Not finding that...she would settle for a universe where there would be two of her." (ibid.)

But that still sounds impossible, especially since Patricia lacks both experience and skill with the clavicle.

The cosmic corridor is hard sf based on notions like superspace but the ability of some individuals to detect and enter specific other universes using a technological divining rod sounds more like fantasy. Is there indeed such a composite genre as "science fantasy"? I have just googled this phrase and found references to Heinlein's Magic Inc and to Anderson's Operation... series, works that I have previously classed as "hard fantasy," i.e., as fantasy that is almost indistinguishable from the same authors' hard sf because the same logical rigor is applied to the consequences of supernatural premises as, in sf, to the consequences of technological innovations. So, if Eon is science fantasy, then it is a different kind.

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