Greg Egan writes science fiction on a range of subjects. Zendegi starts with the middle east then moves into virtual reality games. I like some of greg's other books and, for some reason, could not get past the middle east start to the book.
The first paragraph is:
Martin stared anxiously at the four crates full of vinyl LP's in the corner of the living room. A turntable, amplifier and speakers sat on the floor beside them, their cables draped in dust; it had been three weeks since he'd sold the shelving unit that had housed the components. The records would be far too heavy to take with him on the plane to Iran, and he didn't think much of their chances if he sent them separately as surface freight. He'd contemplated putting them into storage, as he'd done when he'd gone to Pakistan, but having already spent a month selling furniture and throwing out junk he wwas determined to complete the process: to reach the point where he could fly out of Sydney with no keys in his pocket, leaving nothing behind.
The main character, Martin Seymour, is introduced extensively, too much detail for me, and I stopped reading before the science fiction kicked in. Ok, I was busy when I stopped reading. If I was on holidays, I would read further because the story looks like it could go in an interesting direction.
The time is set close enough to now to seem realistic. Published in 2010, the story starts in our current time then skips forward a few years but not far enough to be fantasy. Some of the middle east aspects of the story would be a good start to a murder mystery but Zendegi does not have a dramatic moment early enough to grab me and the main characters were not interesting enough to drag me through to the drama.