978-0-06-105980-3 / 0061059803


by Egan, Greg



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About the book:

In the new millennium, Prabhir spends his childhood on the small Indonesian island where his biologist parents are investigating anomalous butterflies:

"The butterfly--a female twenty centimeters across, with black and iridescent-green wings--clearly belonged to some species of swallowtail: the two hind wings were tipped with long , narrow "tails" or "streamers". But there were puzzling quirks ... the pattern of veins in the wings. and the position of the genital openings ... How could this one species of swallowtail been isolated longer than any other butterfly in the world."
A childish prank leads to Prabhir's blaming himself for the violent deaths of his parents and he devotes the rest of his life to protecting his young sister; aged 9, he sails with her to safety and later abandons his education to give her a home. Maddie becomes a biologist, and takes an interest in the strange creatures now proliferating in the islands; when she goes on a field trip, Prabhir feels obliged to follow... Greg Egan's recent books and short stories of the near future--Distress and Luminous --have combined their intellectually challenging scientific speculations with a good deal of human drama, and Teranesia continues this trend in his work; Prabhir's irrational guilt and obsessive protectiveness make him a memorable flawed protagonist. In the end, though, the point is the wonders--Egan comes up with some fascinating speculation on mechanisms whereby evolution could suddenly go into overdrive, and has the good sense not to push conclusions too far; the reader's informed imagination continues well beyond the book's end. All this, and some scathing satire on Critical Theory and Cultural Studies too. --Roz Kaveney

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