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Showing posts from September, 2019

Entanglement (SF) - Andrew Thomas ***(*)

There’s a lot to like about Entanglement, though it has to be read with a few reservations, which I will come back to.

In this first novel by Andrew Thomas, we have a humorous science fiction thriller, with a love story or two thrown in. A top-secret government research station in the Scottish highlands disappears, a colony of moles are mysteriously transported from Cambridgeshire to Lundy Island, and a brick starts behaving very strangely. The main thread of the story is interspersed with the story of another character who repeatedly finds herself in parallel worlds - initially terrifying, over the years it becomes a way of life.

Thomas has some really clever ideas and pulls them together in an unexpected way that echoes the book’s title. Although what happens is downright weird, sometimes feeling closer to fantasy than SF, Thomas grounds what is happening in some of the more outrĂ© aspects of quantum physics. I found myself wanting to read on to discover how it would all turn out, a…

Cosmological Koans - Anthony Aguirre ***

The format of this book suggests the author is trying a bit too hard to be different, which is a shame as it contains plenty of good material. At first sight, the approach of using (pseudo) 'Zen koans' as a linking theme is reminiscent of awful past titles that attempt to show parallels between Eastern philosophies and physics (think, for example, of The Tao of Physicsor, even worse, The Dancing Wu Li Masters). But this isn't really the case - Anthony Aguirre is, rather, using the approach of presenting a short passage that makes you think (the koan) as an entry point to fifty connected essays on physics.

Having said that, the theme can seem a little heavy handed. To complicate the format even further, as well as the koans, each essay fits into a journey in time and space, which in the introduction Aguirre describes as historical fiction: but sometimes this seems to be unnecessarily distorted to match the 'Zen koans' theme. So, for example, the very first essay is b…