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The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts

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Our best estimates indicate that the universe is full of potentially life-supporting planets. Surely, some of them ought to have developed interstellar travel by now. So where are they? Scientists call this the Fermi Paradox, and it’s one of the great unsolved questions of astronomy.

In this superb novel, Adam Roberts solves it. More importantly, he solves the problem of how to write a profound philosophical novel that is thrilling, scary, character-driven, and accessible. He also reimagines the love life of Immanuel Kant, pastiches the last chapter of Ulysses, builds a fairly strong case that God both exists and is love, and reimagines John Carpenter’s The Thing in this tale.

Bored researchers at an Antarctic base in 1982 accidentally discover a creature that exists outside of human perceptual categories such as space, time, and causation. The knowledge turns one of them into an amoral superman and the other into a basket case. Decades later, the latter must confront the former. I read this book in two sittings and I’ll ponder it for the rest of my life. (Gollancz)

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