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The Omega Theory: A Novel Hardcover – February 15, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; First Edition edition (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416595341
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416595342
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,154,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Science meets geopolitics meets religious fanaticism in Alpert's breathless sequel to Final Theory. Science historian David Swift and his physicist wife, Monique Reynolds, go in search of their autistic adopted son, 19-year-old Michael Gupta, who, savantlike, has memorized Einstein's unified field theory, after members of a religious cult kidnap Michael from the Upper Manhattan Autism Center. The kidnapping occurs on the same day that Iran tests a nuclear device that does more than generate a seismic rumble. According to a Columbia colleague of Swift's, it "severed the continuity of our universe." Accompanied by FBI special agent Lucille Parker, Swift and Reynolds embark on a tiring (and sometimes tiresome) quest that takes them to Jerusalem and Turkmenistan. Those who can identify with characters who are little more than plot devices or mouthpieces for exposition—the good guys rant about advanced physics, the bad ones about the necessity of the coming apocalypse—will be most rewarded. (Feb.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Alpert’s follow-up to his acclaimed first novel, Final Theory (2008), continues the adventures of science historian David Swift. This time Swift’s adopted autistic son, Michael, is kidnapped by a radical cult that believes Armageddon is imminent. Buried in Michael’s brain is the formula for Einstein’s much-sought-after universal theory. The leader of the cult plans to use the theory to create a weapon that will destroy the world and lead his followers to heaven. The weapon he envisions, in fact, will be strong enough to destroy the entire solar system and create a new big bang. David must rescue his son (and the world) while somehow subduing the cult and its ever-increasing team of fanatical followers. With a little less intellectually exciting scientific theory this time and more straight-ahead action, Alpert may lose some of his high-end readers, but he stands to gain many more mainstream thriller fans, those who like a Michael Crichton–like mix of science and action. --Jeff Ayers

More About the Author

MARK ALPERT is a contributing editor at Scientific American and an internationally bestselling author of science thrillers. His novels -- "Final Theory," "The Omega Theory," "Extinction," and "The Furies" -- are action-packed page-turners that show the frightening potential of near-future technologies.

A lifelong science geek, Mark attended Stuyvesant High School in New York City and then majored in astrophysics at Princeton University. Working with his advisor, the Princeton theorist J. Richard Gott III, Mark wrote his undergraduate thesis on the application of the theory of relativity to Flatland, a model universe with only two spatial dimensions (length and width, but no depth). The resulting paper, "General Relativity in a (2 + 1)-Dimensional Spacetime," was published in the Journal of General Relativity and Gravitation in 1984 and has been cited in more than 100 physics papers since then. (Scientists who are searching for the Theory of Everything are particularly interested in Flatland because the mathematics gets simpler when one spatial dimension is removed from the equations.)

While at Princeton, Mark also studied creative writing with poets Michael Ryan and James Richardson. After graduation he made the fateful (and perhaps foolhardy) decision to pursue poetry rather than physics. So he entered the M.F.A. writing program at Columbia University, where he took courses taught by Stanley Kunitz, Octavio Paz, Derek Walcott, Susan Sontag and Elizabeth Hardwick. Two years later, when he realized that poetry would never pay the bills, Mark became a journalist. He started as a reporter for the Claremont (N.H.) Eagle Times, writing stories about school-board meetings and photographing traffic accidents with his beloved Nikon FG. Then he moved on to the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, where he learned the history of the civil-rights movement by covering George Wallace's last year as governor.

In 1987 he returned to New York as a reporter for Fortune Magazine and over the next five years he wrote about the computer industry and emerging technologies. During the 1990s Mark worked freelance, contributing articles to Popular Mechanics and writing copy for the talking heads on CNN's Moneyline show. Throughout this period he was also writing novels and short stories, but the only piece of fiction he sold was a short story called "My Life with Joanne Christiansen," which was published in Playboy in 1991.

In 1998 Mark joined the board of editors at Scientific American. With his love for science reawakened, he soon came up with another idea for a novel. While working on a special issue about Albert Einstein, he was intrigued by the story of Einstein's long search for a unified field theory that would explain all the forces of Nature. Mark started writing a thriller about high-energy physics, incorporating many of the real ideas and technologies described in the pages of Scientific American: driverless cars, surveillance robots, virtual-reality combat and so on. The result was "Final Theory," which was published by the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster in 2008. Foreign rights to the novel were sold in 23 countries, and the film rights were optioned by Radar Pictures. Touchstone also published the sequel, "The Omega Theory" (2011), which was about religious fanatics who try to trigger Doomsday by altering the quantum algorithm of the universe.

Mark switched from physics to neuroscience in 2013 when his third novel "Extinction" was published by the Thomas Dunne Books imprint of St. Martin's Press. In this thriller, the technology of brain-computer interfaces leads to the emergence of a new species of deadly man-machine hybrids who share a super-intelligent collective consciousness. In 2014 foreign translations of "Extinction" were published in Greece and Taiwan, and St. Martin's is bringing out the paperback in March. And in April 2014 Thomas Dunne will publish Mark's fourth thriller, "The Furies." The novel tells the story of an ancient clan who were persecuted as witches and nearly annihilated in Europe four hundred years ago. The Furies found sanctuary in the wilderness of America and lived in seclusion until the present day, when a civil war tears the clan apart and threaten to reveal their secret: a genetic mutation so shocking that its discovery could change the course of history.

Mark lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children. He's a proud member of Scientific American's softball team, the Big Bangers.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Alpert seems to have learned a little about writing thrillers since his first outing, Final Theory. Last time, though Mr. Alpert's use of science was strong, his plotting and characters left a little to be desired. In this novel, his science is, if anything, better, but now the intensity is ratcheted up with the immediate potential for universal disaster, the relationships between the characters having more depth, and by mostly avoiding common pitfalls of thrillers by getting the FBI and Israeli Intelligence on the side of our protagonists.

In The Omega Theory, Mr. Alpert brings back a number of characters from Final Theory, including the Swift family--David, the science historian; Monique Reynolds, physicist and now David's wife; and Michael, the autistic boy who has Einstein's final theory in his head--as well as Lucille Parker, the FBI agent who tracked the Swifts throughout the last novel but is now on their side when Michael get kidnapped. On the other side is a religious fanatic named Brother Cyrus who hopes to bring about the end of Creation using Einstein's theory. With the help of adherents in high places and some well-drawn followers (Tamara and Angel, in particular) he makes an interesting foe. Olam ben Z'man, the mystical scientist, also deserves mention as an excellent and memorable character.

But what really stands out here is the science behind the plot. On the surface, this appears to be a straightforward narrative about a kidnapping and a nuclear test detected in Iran. Instead, it turns out to be something a bit cleverer related to information theory, quantum computing, and the underlying structure of the universe. Though Mr.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Zimmerman on April 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What if the universe is nothing more than an incredibly intricate computer program? Sounds a bit Matrix-y, yeah? But apparently famed physicist John Archibald Wheeler theorized this "It From Bit" idea -- that literally everything in the universe could be described with 'yes' or 'no' binary choices -- near the end of his career. And it's an idea still being kicked around in some scientific circles. This It From Bit theory is the basis for Mark Alpert's taut, fast-paced scientific thriller The Omega Theory. Only Alpert poses the question: If the universe is a computer program, what could cause it to crash?

As our thriller opens, Columbia University science historian David Swift and his wife, physicist Monique Reynolds, are opening a Physicists for Peace conference in New York City. But just before Swift gives his keynote, the news arrives that Iran has just tested a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, David and Monique's adopted autistic son Michael is kidnapped by some religious nut-jobs who are after a secret stored in his head.

We soon learn, though, that the nuclear test may not be quite what it seems. And with the help of the FBI and a mysterious Israeli physicist and computer scientist, David and Monique race through the back alleys and secret tunnels of the Old City of Jerusalem to the deserts of Turkmenistan to try to rescue Michael and find the truth about a dastardly plot to destroy the universe.

Along the way, Alpert gives us some fascinating tidbits about everything from quantum computing to particle physics to code-breaking to the always-interesting science vs. religion debate. In fact, Alpert primes the pump with a quote from Albert Einstein to kick off the novel: "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Konrad Kern VINE VOICE on March 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Mark Alpert has all the ingredients to write a great scientific thriller. His knowledge of, and ability to explain science, his great skill in producing a plot that puts it all together, and his talent in putting a high end suspense to the whole story. Loved this thriller and I loved the characters. Some characters I love to hate the most are religious fanatics and there minions. This thriller will give you that and more. The only minor grievance I have was that the ending could have been a bit more satisfying. In other words, some deaths came too quick. This one's a hit!
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on February 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Iran tests a nuclear device; a Columbia University physicist, based on readings from scientific instruments, claims that for a nanosecond the test ripped asunder the universe as if the Big Bang was about to explode. On the same day, the Upper Manhattan Autism Center informs science historian David Swift and his physicist wife, Monique Reynolds that their nineteen years old autistic adopted son Michael Gupta was snatched.

The True Believers cult kidnapped Michael, whose ancestor is Einstein and who has memorized his late relative's little known Unified Field's Final Theory. Worried for their son, FBI special agent Lucille Parker joins Swift and Reynolds on the rescue quest because the True Believers plan to deploy the Omega Theory as those who know the Big Bang of alpha creation also know the Big Crunch of omega nothingness.

From New York to Jerusalem to Turkmenistan, the chase is on as the good guy scientists (angels) battle the bad guy cultists (devils). Although none of the cast is developed beyond their role in the potential apocalypse final war, fans will enjoy the non-stop action as Mark Alpert provides an exhilarating Big Crunch thriller.

Harriet Klausner
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