Friday, August 23, 2013

Time One: Discover How the Universe Began, by Colin Gillespie

Big Fizz Inc., ISBN 9780795333538, April 2013

I'm not quite sure what to make of this book. Gillespie seems to be serious about his physics, and to a non-physicist, it doesn't sound much stranger than currently accepted physics. Gillespie also has what appear to be real physics credentials, too. He seems to have the notion of popularizing high-end physics and encouraging broad popular interest in revitalizing physics.

But there's the rub. If you want to inspire serious interest in physics, it's a bit odd to do it in a book with a fictional narrator on the fringes of a terrorist plot. It's as if he thinks he has to sugar-coat the physics and spoon-feed it to us. Generations of other science popularizers have done far better with far more respect for their readers.

So my verdict on the physics is that it's likely nonsense, fiction created for a rather oddly structured novel.This is unfortunate, because the fictional frame is weak and, at best, annoying.

Our Narrator is full of himself, smarter than everyone, disdainful of his boss but indifferent to her activities even when he suspects the worst. His classist contempt for Frank, the ex-LAPD detective, seems largely disconnected from any real flaws Frank has.

Meanwhile, if Frank or the unnamed boss have any ideals, ethics, or goals, or any motive for the undertaking they're involved in, we certainly don't find out about it.

And really, I don't care. None of these characters is worth the time we spend with them. That's before we get to the question of whether Our Narrator, or the voice in his head, are even sane. This book doesn't work as fiction, and doesn't work as science popularization.

Not recommended.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.

Book trailer