I read this story a long time ago. I am unsure if it was a short, a novella or a full novel, but given my so-little memory of it, I believe it was probably a short.

On to the plot points I remember:

  • someone discovered how to harness the power of rotation
  • you got the power, but whatever you harvested the energy from started slowing down, until eventually it stopped rotating
  • this was used/abused by far too many people, causing the Earth to stop spinning and then the Moon, and they were starting in on the Solar System when the story started (IIRC)
  • someone realized that they could have godlike amounts of power by harnessing the rotational energy of the entire universe
  • somehow they used the massive energy to create copies of themselves (in time??)
  • the two main characters were trying to kill each other, but were in a stalemate as with the unlimited energy they had they could make an almost infinite number of copies of themselves

2 Answers 2


You're looking for Signal to Noise and A Signal Shattered by Eric Nylund. I don't have any direct links to back this up, but what I remember of the story had a character named Jack betraying the alien "Wheeler" which causes the deaths of almost everyone on the earth. Wheeler is a dealer of this technology that enabled teleportation among other things at the cost of an object's rotation. More rotation gave you more power.

In the end, Jack finds a way to use the rotational power of a black hole to teleport on top of himself enough times that he's literally able to copy himself and send those copies anywhere in the universe. In the climax, Jack confronts a bewildered Wheeler who keeps killing the copies as Jack walks toward him on, I think, the moon.

Does this sound like it?

  • That does sound really close... I'll have to see if I can drum up a copy and confirm.
    – Barak
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 15:41
  • 1
    Get the second of the two books. That's where 95% of the stuff in your description comes from.
    – Kalamane
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 15:51
  • 1
    This is almost certainly the book. It's the first thing that came to mind when I saw the question and an almost exact match. Time for a reread, I had forgotten about it until now. :)
    – Saiboogu
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 15:26
  • 1
    @Barak: I don't suppose you ever did drum up a copy?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 18:14
  • We really should have a feature to let other people mark an answer after a certain period of time has gone by. Even if that limit is a number of years...
    – Kalamane
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 21:39

Sounds like it's probably Larry Niven's The Magic Goes Away series. The series was first published as three books, which were later combined in one volume:

Do the covers look familiar? Even though they have been reprinted multiple times, the covers probably didn't change (because the artists stayed the same [for the US editions, at least]).

Wikipedia says about the first (and best) book in the series:

The Warlock ... observes that when he stays in one place too long, his powers dwindle and will return only when he leaves that place. Experimentation leads him to create an apparatus (now known as the Warlock's Wheel) consisting of a metal disc enchanted to spin perpetually. The enchantment eventually consumes all the mana in the vicinity, causing a localized failure in all magic. The Warlock realizes that magic is fueled by a non-renewable resource.... The widespread diminishing of magical power in The Magic Goes Away triggered a quest on the part of the most powerful of the magicians of the time to harness a new source of magic (the Moon), resulting in the events described in the book.

It was eventually discovered (in The Magic May Return) that mana was originally carried to Earth and the other bodies of the solar system on the solar wind, replenishing mana slowly over time.

That touches on your first three plot points (and implies the fourth). I don't remember the last two points, but it's been a looong time since I last read any of the books.

  • The ending the OP described doesn't match with anything that I recall in that universe. Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 13:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.