The Light of Other Days

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9780006483748: The Light of Other Days

In the most exciting SF collaboration ever, Arthur C. Clarke and his universally acknowledged heir Stephen Baxter pool talent, fantastic ideas, unprecedented cosmic insights as well as page-turning plotting skills and breathlessly good writing to produce the most awesome novel of the future since 3001.

’Space is what keeps everything from being in the same place. Right?’ With these words Hiram Patterson, head of the giant media corporation OurWorld, launches the greatest communications revolution in history. With OurWorld’s development of wormhole technology, any point in space can be connected to any other, faster than the speed of light. Realtime television coverage is here: earthquakes and wars, murders and disasters can be watched, exactly as they occur, anywhere on the planet.
Then WormCams are made to work across time as well as space. Humanity encounters itself in the light of other days. We witness the life of Jesus, go to the premiere of Hamlet, solve the enigmas that have baffled generations. Blood spilled centuries ago flows vividly once more – and no personal treachery or shame can be concealed.

But when the world and everything in it becomes as transparent as glass and there are no more secrets, people find new ways to gain vengeance and commit crime, and Hiram Patterson finds new ways to keep his Machiavellian schemes secret.

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Review:

SF's grand old man Sir Arthur teams up with newer star Baxter to tackle a whopping science-fiction idea with ample scope for both their talents. Their "WormCam" video camera looks across any distance through tiny wormholes in space. Initially this seems no worse than a remote TV link, but it transforms the world as disquieting cans of worms are irrevocably opened. This gadget is a veritable WormCan.

Distance is no obstacle. Neither are walls. Early WormCams allow daringly invasive newspaper scoops--and once the general public can buy them, personal privacy vanishes forever. Anyone can spy on you anywhere. Or anywhen, because next-generation WormCams peer through time as well as space ... at your embarrassing old secrets, at mysteries of the past, at the truth about old murders, Princess Di, the Mary Celeste, Abraham Lincoln, and even Jesus.

As WormCams steadily improve, they probe into deep time: spying on early man, walking with dinosaurs, back and back to a poignant SF vision of what came before life as we know it. It builds towards an utopian dream of the wonders humanity could achieve if given total access to its past.

Clarke and Baxter ramble intriguingly in all directions, exploring every implication. Their imaginative set-pieces are linked by a slightly soap-operatic plot featuring the megalomaniac entrepreneur whose labs built the WormCam, the sons he's manipulated like puppets, and one son's girlfriend who becomes a spanner in (as the lab's nicknamed) the WormWorks. Wide-ranging, ambitious and enjoyable. --David Langford

Review:

‘Two titans of hard SF team up for a story of grand scientific and philosophical scope… The large-scale implications addressed are impressive in this potent story’
Publishers Weekly

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