Everything You Know About the Dialed
Darwinia
by Robert Charles Wilson
One of them "high concept" sci-fi novels that maybe should have had lower ambitions...

It starts out to be a novel about what would happen if all of Europe was magically transformed into a pristine wilderness 1912. All human habitation was wiped out, and all of the flora and fauna in Europe are entirely different. Furry centipedes that are highly poisonous, giant snakes that can be ridden like horses, &c. &c. The main character is the photographer in an expotition to cross the Alps of this new Europe.

That's all well and good, but out of nowhere it turns out that there is a complicated explaination for this all, and it involves a galaxy-sized computer simulation of the past (the "Archive") that is getting corrupted by a pseudo-sentient virus. See, all of the characters in the novel had actually died billions of millenia ago, but their conciousness was stored in this simulation... but now it's getting corrupted by this virus.

But then he realizes that that isn't a very interesting story to tell, so the rest of the book takes place, more or less, within this simulation. Except that the main character becomes immortal, and has to fight these evil bug-creatures (the earthly manifestations of the pseudo-sentient virus, called "psions" for god-knows-what reason). At the end there is a massive battle between the Old Men, immortals fighting on the side of the Good, and the bad guys who are turning into the beetle-things.

Don't get me wrong, it was quite enjoyable to read. I didn't quite understand it, but I was content to wait until it ultimately explained itself. At the end of it I sort-of understood it, but there were plenty of questions that were never answered.
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