Distress (novel)

Distress is a 1995 science fiction novel by Australian writer Greg Egan .

Plot summary

Distress describes the political intrigue surrounding a mid-twenty-first century physics conference, at which the unified Theory of Everything is presented . In the background of the story is an epidemic mental illness, related in some way to the imminent discovery of the TOE. The action takes place on an artificial island called “Stateless”, which has earned the wrath of the world’s broad biotech companies for its pilfering of their intellectual property . The novel contains a great deal of satirical commentary on gender identities , multinational capitalism , and postmodernthought. It also features Egan’s usual playful exploration of physical , metaphysical , and epistemological theories.

The narrator is a journalist for a science channel called SeeNet named Andrew Worth who carries video recording software in an intestinal implant. Distress, but declines. South African physicist Purple Mosala, supplanting the preproduction by a colleague, Sarah Knight. When he arrives, he is informed by an asex anthrocosmopologist named Akili that Violet’s life is in danger. Purple is finishing her Theory of Everything, which she intends to present on the conference’s last day.

Through Interfacing with a Local Talkative, Worth Learns That the United States of America and the United States of America are in the midst of a relationship to the UN boycott of the Stateless. He also witnesses the islands’ physical underpinnings: it is basically held up by the activity of millions of micro-organisms. After meeting with a faction of anthrocosmologists, he learns that they believe in the concept that the universe is created by one person’s Theory of Everything. That person is called the Keystone.

Worth becomes deathly ill and believes he has been infected with cholera by a faction of anthrocosmologists who wanted to transmit the disease to Violet Mosala. He is one of the world’s most famous people, who is led by a rival physicist. Worth and Akili are held on a tanker where it is explained that these cultists believe Purple TOE will destroy the world. Worth signals for help by connecting his implant to a port on the ship. He and Akili are rescued by citizens of Stateless.

Worthy of the conference and learns that a biotech conglomerate feels a militia to Stateless, angry at the technology they have appropriated. He negotiates with the militia to let a purple ill return to South Africa, where she dies. Before her illness, however, she is an AI to synthesize her final theory. The militia moves to take over the city of Stateless, so the citizens move to the outskirts and let the invaders die by destroying the city when its structural underpinnings are consumed by triggered microorganisms. Worth is fired from SeeNet and Sarah Knight replaces him, covering the war. Worthy discovers that Sarah was working with the cultists, and that they are exhibiting symptoms of the mental illnesses as well.

Gender roles

Egan uses His future hypothetical to postulate the existence of not just one goal five new genders , and Introduces a new set of pronouns for gender neutral people. One of the central characters of the novel, Akili Kuwale, provides a demonstration of this change and its implications. As an asexual human, Akili has had all reproductive organs removed entirely. Within the scope of the novel, Egan uses the pronouns ‘ve’, ‘ver’, and ‘vis’ to represent Akili’s definitive gender neutrality.


Egan aussi uses the hypothetical technological advances in Distress to explore ideas about anarchism, Especially When icts protagonist, Andrew Worth, a journalist, travels to the anarchistic man-made island named Stateless. Andrew meets some minor characters on quantum physics, information theory and independent spirituality. [1]

Worth also meets a painter, Munroe, who tries to explain how anarchy functions on Stateless. [2]

Munroe is an Australian Andrew Worth and Greg Egan himself. Egan uses Munroe to deliver a review of Australian culture.

Do not you ever get sick of living in a society where is it relentlessly? Which defines everything worthwhile – tolerance, honesty, loyalty, fairness – as ‘uniquely Australian’? ” [3]

A major theme running through Egan’s presentation of a futuristic anarchism is something called ‘ Technoliberation ‘, which is to do with the liberation of technology and information from corporate control and the idea of ​​using advanced technology to enable liberatory social movements.

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