A Clarke and Baxter Review

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The Light of Other Days
Published in Paperback by Tor Science Fiction (January 15, 2001)
Authors:Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter
Average review score:
Plumb the Depths of Quantum Imaginings

If you like to explore some of the more imaginative possible consequences of quantum physics, you'll really enjoy this book. The authors take some of the possible aspects of quantum wormholes and use them to develop a society that is rapidly changed forever by the commercialization of their effects.

The story follows a reporter, Kate Manzoni, as she investigates a powerful businessman and inventor who transforms the world. Along the way, society is changed into one where everyone's actions, past and present, are available for viewing to anyone else who desires to.

The philosophical ramifications and concrete societal results of this change are the main theme of the book, with the lack of privacy turning from simple embarrassments into totalitarian watching. The twist is that the citizens can also watch those that govern them, leading to more forced honesty, but not necessarily much less corruption.

Kate is in turn beguiled by the technology and its inventors and possibilities and then appalled by some of the results. The writing that explores this in detail is excellent, but Clarke and Baxter also throw in a massive rewrite of history as seen through their wormhole past-viewing technology. Their alternative true history is implausible and seems more shaped by their personal prejudices than any sort of careful research into what might possibly have been incorrect. I would recommend this book to someone who wants to see what they do with quantum wormholes, but don't expect to learn too much from it. - Thomas Sewell