Quantum Horrors, Quantum Doom: Dangerous Consciousness in the Work of Greg Egan and Charles Stross

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    Quantum reality remains an unknown realm of impenetrable uncertainty, a constant flux brought into our experience only as decoherence, the necessary destruction of infinite possible realities into a single fixed reality. This unknowable rupture within reality can be the source of great fear. Quantum mechanics emphasizes the active role of consciousness and insists that we take the observer into account. This place of consciousness features in both the ‘consciousness-causes-collapse’ and the ‘many-worlds’ theories as a simultaneously creative and destructive gesture in which existence itself is called into question.This article will assess the approaches of two writers to the horrors that potentially lurk behind the curtain of reality. Greg Egan's work suggests the possibility of humanity's control over collapse, and the negative fantasy of a psychologically unprepared public gaining access to these abilities. Charles Stross, however, speculates that our fear of monsters is founded entirely in abstract external terrors originating beyond the confines of our universe. Between these challenges to the consciousness-causes-collapse and many-worlds theories, this article will explore the terrifying power which consciousness wields in constructing fictional and real worlds, in order to question the notion of impending doom in our quantum future, and its relevance in critiquing our perspectives on the present.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)170-184
    Number of pages15
    JournalEnglish Academy Review
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2014


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