In an arid and uncivilized region of the Egyptian desert, a pair of scientists are attempting to construct a machine that will allow for the human race to make contact with another life-form on Mars. The machine is intended to be constructed in the same vein as an equilateral triangle, with all sides and faces being equal to the others. But as you would expect, it turns out to not be a simple task.
In Ken Kalfus's alternate history novel Equilateral, you find that everything is anything but equal. The project itself has turned into a time-consuming and expensive venture. Over 900,000 workers have been enlisted to build the machine, but they are often treated very harshly. The individuals funding the venture and the scientists working on the project clash, with the financiers wielding most of the power. The native tribes and villages where the project is taking place have been removed from the picture, leading to conflict between the new arrivals and the native people.
The world depicted in this book is not equal, but very much unequal. As the scientists peer through their telescopes to view the progress of a civilization far removed from our own, it raises the question as to whether their may be another unequal thread lining the story. Are they more intelligent? Kinder? More hospitable? Virtuous? What about equal?