This is probably one of the rare posts that will not deal with the theological issues I presented in my previous posts (most notably, those in response to our novels), so this should provide an alternative for those of you who are tired of my oppositional "religious" (actually, Christian) views. Consider this the original post about "Schild's Ladder, the scientific perspective." (In other words, the "preaching-free" version)
Throughout the book, I noticed similarities between this book and Dick's Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? True, the plots are no where near similar, but there are several themes that are similar. The most notable one is the use of memory as a form of identity (both seem to share this view, as others have mentioned), but I found another similarity that does not relate to the themes (specifically). I couldn't help but be reminded of the empathy box--that machine in Androids that can alter emotions--in scenes where the characters would ask there mediators to control their emotions. Both stories seem to have a machine to adjust the emotions of the characters, which actually does open it up to this theme of empathy that was present in Dick's novel. It is true that the book never comments on the question of humanity, but did losing their body, and losing the emotions that coincide with the flesh, did they lose a part of themselves? Did they lose a portion of their identity? It is a question I will pose but will not answer. Besides, I promised I would stay away from theology in this post.
On a separate note, I was frustrated by how much of this book seemed like scientific lectures! I always found it annoying in Michael Crichton's books when he would digress into random, and sometimes forced, insertion of scientific information, but this book makes Crichton seem like a actual story, rather than a long research paper! There were so many lectures included in Egan's writings, and a lot of it was difficult to understand. I didn't really know, or care, what was going on in this story!
So, you can derive from this that the unusual number of posts on my part has nothing to do with an actual enjoyment of the book. It is not hard to figure out the real reason why . . .