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Murder In Lecture Hall B Paperback – November 1, 2011
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
About the Author
Michael Martin has been a woodwork teacher at the Waldorf school in Nurnberg, Germany, for many years.
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I should have known better than to purchase this book. There is nothing in Martin's non-fiction prose that might lead one to suspect he "has a novel in him." Most of "Lecture Hall" is written in dry narrative style, with little in the way of dialog or creative exposition. I don't have to go past the third page for an example of the quality of writing one would encounter in "Lecture Hall":
"Then it occurred to Jordon that it might be advantageous to list these answers on the blackboard before he criticized them and started to look for a piece of chalk. Damn! None was to be seen. Alas! He must go on without the chalk."
I'm sure a diligent scanner could find examples of infelicitous phrasing in "The Great Gatsby," too, but while I wish I could report that the "Alas! No Chalk!" lines are aberrations, that is in fact emblematic of what you will find throughout the book.
This is a shame. Martin is a clear thinker and his idea of using fiction to create a scenario, a story, to explicate atheist ideas is a good one. While religion has scores of stories that get across its dubious ideas--"The Chronicles of Narnia," "Pilgrim's Progress," "The Book of the Dun Cow," the Harry Potter series, etc.--atheists so far really only have the works of Philip Pullman and a few others (however, for a couple of pleasant surprises, see The Infernova and Crawl). I sincerely wish I could report that Martin's fiction could help to fill the need for decent atheist fiction. The most I can say is that "Lecture Hall" fills a "much-needed gap."