Sometimes, I pick up a book that I’ve never heard of on impulse, just because it looks intriguing. Most times I put it back down again after a quick look. But then there are the ones where a closer examination suggests that this might be something I really should read. That’s how I got into the Erast Fandorin books – I picked up Murder on the Leviathan and was hooked. But I digress. A few weeks ago, I was browsing in Waterstone’s, and saw this book on the table. Interesting title, and a quote on the cover that made me want to look further:
…perhaps the only novel about quantum mechanics you could imagine reading while lying on a beach
– Joseph O’Connor, Guardian
Well, I don’t generally do beaches, but I am partial to the odd bit of quantum mechanics, so I bought the book and read it during my recent London trip.
Andrew Crumey is a physicist, originally from Scotland, but now living in Newcastle upon Tyne. Since I read Mobius Dick, I’ve learned that he’s recently been given an award for northern-based writers which will enable him to work full-time on his writing. Good thing too, on the strength of this book. Crumey states that his work is not science fiction, which is of course his right. But I have to say I’ve read stories that were labelled as sf that were less sf-like than this. But no matter.
There are a number of entwining, cross-referencing threads in the book. There’s what appears at first to be the main thread, about physicist John Ringer, and an experiment that might cause all manner of really nasty problems. Then there’s Harry Dick, who’s woken up in a strange hospital with no memory of his own life, and apparently false memories of authors nobody has heard of. And there are odd (and related) historical sections involving Schuman and Schroëdinger (separately, I might add).
Lots of fun involving the many worlds hypothesis, with events entwining and feeding back on each other. And the end does pretty much what the title might lead you to believe.
I’m going to have to read this again, as I’m sure I missed the significance of some bits the first time round. I enjoyed it enormously. And if you think this review made little sense, well, you’re probably right. But once things start getting a bit quantum, that tends to happen.