Tuesday, 6 October 2020
“But we are always optimists when it comes to time; we think there will be time to do things with other people. And time to say things to them.”
“She hoped that although he could not hear her she could somehow imprint her ordinary love upon his memory through all eternity, hoped he would rise thinking of her, we were each other, we were each other, not that it mattered much in the long run but what else mattered as much.”
Monday, 24 August 2020
“The term ”fission” describing how a uranium nucleus could split into two had been borrowed from biology, and Oppie had a sudden flash of micrographs he’d seen of a dividing cell: an entity pinched in the middle to form bulbous halves. Grove’s belt was the construction and an ample gut billowed out above and below it.”
I’m going to start with a negative here and its no reflection on Robert J Sawyer’s great writing. No, I struggled to get into this novel a little at first because my imagination about the Manhattan project was coloured so deeply by the tv show of the same name. This was a tad confusing for me and I think possibly impacted my otherwise thorough enjoyment of the novel. Nevertheless, my interest was rekindled and by the end I was a complete convert.
The Robert Oppenheimer of Sawyer’s novel is an enigmatic creature, often caught between two worlds. This is highlighted by the two women in his life. His wife and fellow scientist, Kitty and Jean his troubled, communist lover. Dealing with the destructive outfall of his work and his love life leaves ‘Oppie’ in a tenuous space, until the chance to save the earth with his work transforms his horizons.
The set up in the past is so detailed and appears to be meticulously researched, so when the story branches off from reality into an alternate history, the reader is 100% onboard. I personally adore the way Sawyer puts the ‘science’ into fiction. He makes science a thrilling character of its own in his work. It makes me want to study something in the STEM world.
The political machinations are of course also fascinating and some background from the author’s research explored in the novel unearths some surprising facts. The novel’s publication in parallel with the 75th anniversary of the first atomic bomb test, the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is particularly meaningful and was fought for by the author.
I digress though. The tale transforms from a historical narrative to a thrilling piece of speculative fiction which was ultimately gripping and made me happy that I’d treated myself to the hard copy version.
5 out of 5, can’t wait for Mr Sawyer’s next work – I’m a big fan.
Friday, 21 August 2020
"So to recap: on a late October night in my second year at uni I meet Daisy and ask her out."
If you've been reading my reviews you will know my list ticking insanity. I've never met a top 10 list on The Guardian that I didn't immediately want to finish. So this novel was the last one for me from Tim Lott's Top 10 summers in fiction list and what a fantastic list it was.
This novel is peopled by some generally unlikeable people. The narrator, Ian, is married to Emily and yet still carries a torch for his love from university,Daisy. This is despite the fact that she is married to his best friend from university. Naturally Daisy's husband, Ollie, not only got the girl, but has a jealousy inducing more successful career and lifestyle.
Appearances can be deceiving and a couple's weekend away unearths the secret of Ollie's terminal cancer diagnosis and a large wager between the two men. Is Ollie telling the truth,?Can Ian be relied upon as a narrator? Is something terrible going to happen?
Well I guess you will have to pick up a copy to find out. This has a somewhat Hitchcock-light feel to it and while aspects were fantastic, I was disappointed that I could predict what was going to happen. The thriller aspect built slowly and then just fizzled a little for me. I don't think I cared enough about the characters and that dulled the story's impact. It still is an engaging read and I'm nit-picking.
4 out of 5, the good thing about being single is no smug couple weekends.