An interesting collection of twenty hard science-fiction tales selected by the author is located in the Best of Greg Egan.
The longish stories deal with what it means to be human and how technology is going to change both us and our outside environment. They were originally created between 1990 and 2019. Five of them are collected here for the first time. All of them use some intense ideas, science and especially math. It helps if those are your fields. They are not mine but I still enjoyed some of the more psychological stories.
As with all short story collections, some will appeal to you more than others. The author seems to have selected the ones that garnered the most awards and/or reader support so this is a broad look at his style. If you enjoy hard science-fiction stories that have an underlying philosophical question, you will enjoy these tales. With a whopping 736 pages, reading the physical book, as no e-book is planned, will give your arms and upper body a good work-out. 4 stars!
Thanks to Subterranean Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
YouTuber Eddie Woo tries, and succeeds, to make math interesting in It’s a Numberful World.
“If you go down deep enough into anything, you will find mathematics.”
Eddie proves his point by explaining why rainbows are round, blood vessels and lightning bolts look alike, and the zeros are in the middle of the Plinko board.
I’m pretty sure that It’s a Numberful World is for young folks. But I found the simple explanations of natural phenomena fascinating. Although I’ve taken college calculus, I learned a lot from the book. There are many things that most wouldn’t think of as math. The shape of a sunflower, Netflix’ movie suggestions, and the sound of a guitar come to mind.
If you want to revisit your childlike feelings of awe, just read about the golden triangle, pi, phi, and e. Even better, if you have a child having difficulties understanding why they should study math, this would be a perfect gift. 4.5 stars! Or should I say spheres (read the book to find out why)?
Thanks to The Experiment and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Complex and completely different from other thrillers, the Last Equation of Isaac Severy is highly recommended.
Isaac Severy is a famous mathematician. Now retired, he is still working on his last equation: how to use chaos theory to predict Los Angeles traffic. As the book opens, Isaac is preparing a breakfast for two in his home. The next day Isaac is found dead in his hot tub along with a set of live Christmas lights with a single bulb crushed. His death is accepted as a suicide. At his funeral, his adopted granddaughter, Hazel, opens a cryptic note from Isaac mailed the day before his death. Isaac tells Hazel that he is only the first of three people soon to die. He commands her to destroy the work he left behind in a mysterious room 137 and deliver his last equation to the elusive John Raspanti. Hazel is advised to not involve other members of the family or the police. Isaac states that he selected Hazel for these tasks because she would be the least likely to be suspected. He says that he cannot do the tasks himself because he is being followed.
Isaac’s note leads Hazel on a merry chase through literature, mathematics and physics. Hazel works with various family members while trying to follow the instructions in Isaac’s puzzling letter. Neither Hazel nor the reader can identify who is a hero and who is a villain. This book has a multitude of side plots. What is the elusive and wealthy P. Boone Lyons after? Why is a physicist who has been dead for sixty years attempting to contact Hazel?
Ostensibly a thriller, the family dynamics are almost more intriguing. Phillip is a tenured physics professor at CalTech. However, his opportunities of winning a coveted Nobel prize are slipping away and his best years are behind him. Tom is released from a long prison term. Why was he in prison and how does that relate to Hazel and Gregory’s fear of his release?
Since the family relationships are rather confusing, I created this handy family tree.
Since Isaac’s work is with chaos theory, it follows that the reader truly doesn’t understand what is going on until almost the end of the book. It is reminiscent of the movie Chinatown, where there are a multitude of plot layers that don’t cohere until the end. I like that uncertainty but some may not. However, the resolution definitely is worth the wait.
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy is a brilliant tour-de-force from a debut author. It is highly recommended to thriller readers. It would also appeal to fans of quirky family dynamics like those in movie, The Royal Tenenbaums. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Touchstone Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.