Fantasy, Genetic Engineering, Science Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy
The Nearest: A Tor.com Original
When a detective, a new mother, is assigned to the case of a horrific triple murder, it appears to be a self-contained domestic tragedy, a terrible event but something that doesn’t affect the rest of the community. But it slowly becomes clear that something much darker may be at play, something that spreads out from the scene of the crime to corrode the closest relationships of everyone it touches, in Greg Egan's The Nearest, a Tor.com Original. At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
Paul Durham keeps making Copies of himself: software simulations of his own brain and body which can be run in virtual reality, albeit seventeen times more slowly than real time. He wants them to be his guinea pigs for a set of experiments about the nature of artificial intelligence, time, and causality, but they keep changing their mind and bailing out on him, shutting themselves down. Maria Deluca is an Autoverse addict; she's unemployed and running out of money, but she can't stop wasting her time playing around with the cellular automaton known as the Autoverse, a virtual world that follows a simple set of mathematical rules as its “laws of physics”. Paul makes Maria a very strange offer: he asks her to design a seed for an entire virtual biosphere able to exist inside the Autoverse, modelled right down to the molecular level. The job will pay well, and will allow her to indulge her obsession. There has to be a catch, though, because such a seed would be useless without a simulation of the Autoverse large enough to allow the resulting biosphere to grow and flourish — a feat far beyond the capacity of all the computers in the world.
In 2975, the orphan Yatima is grown from a randomly mutated digital mind seed in the conceptory of Konishi polis. Yatima explores the Coalition of Polises, the network of computers where most life in the solar system now resides, and joins a friend, Inoshiro, to borrow an abandoned robot body and meet a thriving community of “fleshers” in the enclave of Atlanta.