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What does god need with a particle accelerator?
on August 3, 2017
Also, don't cross the beams.
So I'm left not sure what I think about this book, but that's a solid point in it's favor -- many books, the only thing you are left thinking about after you'e finished it is, "So, what else is on?"
This is a book that takes a while to gel. Not in a good way; I came close to giving up on it over the first dozen chapters. There's so much about the science that seems wrong or wonky. The explanation, when it finally comes, does much to answer those questions. Answer them for the reader, at least; the question remains how the rest of the world, particularly the scientific establishment, isn't going to see just how "off" the whole thing was. It's rather a wash in the end; it works for the story but isn't the depiction of Big Science I might have liked to read. And, yes, some of the science is just stupidly wrong (and not anything that advanced, either!) It makes it all the more strange when in later chapters he seems to up his game.
The philosophy is amusing and moderately engaging. The evangelical/millennialist stuff rings true enough but then this is already familiar to me after a few decades of following various science blogs around the fringes of the culture wars (especially the Creationists). I can imagine that a reader more familiar, or less familiar, with this material would react differently. For me, it was familiar enough I was practically skimming those pages.
As usual with Douglas Preston the New Mexico stuff is wonderful, but for that I strongly recommend his non-fiction "Cities of Gold." However, in the early chapters it too felt paint-by-numbers, adding to the impression of a thinly researched, rushed, phoned-in book. It gets better, much better, but still doesn't quite rise to the potential of the material.
Lastly, the novel itself hangs on the unveiling and the eventual understanding of the central event. This is a distinct problem for the reviewer. It can't be discussed in depth without a big spoiler, and once that spoiler is made, there's hardly a point in reading the book. The surrounding action is amusing, but insufficient to take the place of having that mystery.
Oh, and I don't get Wyman Ford. He carries around a big "I'm the protagonist" sign with him but I still can't tell what it is about him, what drives him, what makes him interesting, why I am supposed to care. He's engaging enough company but he, too, feels like you are only getting the first couple of chapters. Only for him, there is (as yet) no rest of the book.