Oracle by Greg Egan

From: Wei Dai <>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001 04:49:30 -0800

Greg Egan is one of my favorite authors. Several of his fictional works
have dealt with the idea that all possible universes exist. His latest
story "Oracle" is about Alan Turing in an alternate history of our
universe. Here's an interesting quote:

"Now I know you're lying!" he shouted triumphantly. "If you believed
everything Stoney told you, how could my choice ever mean a thing? I would
always say yes to you, and I would always say no! It would all be the

The full text is available at You might
want to read it first before proceeding to the next paragraph.
Writing fiction that explicitly assumes the AUH seems rather difficult.
The way Greg Egan deals with it here is to posit the existence of a
technology that can prevent coarse-grained histories from splitting. It's
not very satisfactory to me since such technology seems to contradict the
AUH. He takes different approaches in his other works; none of them are
fully satisfactory, but the stories are interesting and entertaining
Egan also talks about the equivalent of a Rapidly Accelerating Computer
(search the archive for "RAC" if you didn't follow the earlier
discussions) in this story, hence the title. I'm not sure why he brings it
up though, since the consequences of the existence of the Oracle are never
Received on Tue Jan 23 2001 - 04:54:28 PST

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