Dark Integers (2007)

Reading Dark Integers felt like coming to a well you thought had dried up, only to realize that there’s excellent water again. And what water. You could get drunk on it. Dark Integers is a sequel to Egan’s story Luminous about a world where number crunching with big integers can prove contradicting and incompatible arithmetic laws.

This time the stakes are even higher, with two groups from two universes (three guys on our side and an unknown number of aliens on the other side, who are way more powerful than we are) monitoring the topological border between the different arithmetical system that represent each universe. And then, after ten years of not much happening, the far side detects an intrusion of our arithmetics into their world.

If this story proves one thing, then that Egan is back in full force. This one is as mindblowing and clever as the best of his earlier stuff. I liked that he expanded on the concept of his earlier story and made it just a consequence of a deeper truth, showing that the characters of the first story were held back by thinking in terms of a Platonic space and that doing away with that and thinking purely in terms of physical processes worked much better.

Overall, a very neat story and it’s good to see Egan back to form, as if he’d never been away from writing.