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reviewed by T. Nelson


by Robert Charles Wilson

reviewed by T. Nelson

P hilosopher Quentin Meillassoux mentioned Darwinia as an example of a world in which the laws of nature are suddenly changed. So I decided to take a look. Possible spoilers ahead.

In 1912, Europe suddenly disappears from the planet Earth: its people, civilization, buildings, animals, and plants just vanish one night and are replaced by a weird landscape of alien animals and plants, many of which are dangerous.

Contrary to what you might think, this doesn't cause any existentialist meltdowns; in fact, the rest of the world seems to take it pretty well. They send out an expedition to explore and repopulate this new Europe, which they call Darwinia.

Only one of the explorers returns. He discovers that the entire world is not real but a historical computer simulation created by beings living trillions of years in the future. He also discovers that in the original world, he died in World War I. Despite that knowledge, he wants to remain on this Earth and live a normal life. Unfortunately, the same events that led to the disappearance of Europe will make that very difficult.

Darwinia might not be a deep philosophical novel, but it's a fascinating, fast-paced, and compassionate story told from the point of view of believable, tragic human beings and how they face the realization that neither they nor their world is real.

apr 23, 2017