We have, in addition: artificial islands grown by sociobiology-minded anarchist genetic engineers, voluntary autism, windmill farms, mercenaries, a devastating caricature of Fay Weldon, mathematical physics jargon I expect to see enter the literature, failing relationships, a one-sentence dismissal of the cosmology of Permutation City, technolibération which has nothing in common with technolibertarianism, seven distinct biological sexes, at least three shattering ontological realizations (this is an Egan novel: drink up!), non-violent resistance, a wired refugee camp, a tour of downtown Sydney, street theater, epidemic psychosis; and for starters, the resurrection of the dead for judgement. All of this, I should add, hangs together wonderfully; it's even, in its own fashion, economical. I don't think I've ever read a book which more perfectly obeyed Chekov's Pistol Principle ("if you put a pistol on the mantlepiece in the first act, it must go off by the end of the fourth").
In his author's note, Egan says that his two sources of inspiration were Steven Weinberg's Dreams of a Final Theory and Edward Said's Culture and Imperialism. An integral part of Distress is the message that one might expect from synthesizing those two books: science — objective, rational, reductionist science, as practiced by fallible, stupid, pig-headed and emotional human beings — is the key both to understanding our condition and to improving it. As such it is the universal heritage and right of humanity, no more tied to one culture than breathing. More: our condition is not that of spirits trapped in flesh, we are our flesh; and there's no outside line, no ghostly source of advice or approval or condemnation.
Distress is a good science fiction novel, with harder science than some papers in the Physical Review, which is also a militantly secular apocalypse. Do yourself a favor and inhale it at the earliest opportunity.