Two love affairs: one between a pair of physicists and the other between
the female physicist and her lovers wife. (The author presents this
analogy: A love triangle reduced to a line.)
It is often hard to tell the difference between math and physics, both in
reality and in fiction. The title implies connections to both. The "gut"
in the title is a pun on GUT=Grand Unified Theory, and attempt to unify the
forces of particle physics. That is really not mathematics. "Symmetry" in
particle physics really has an entirely mathematical meaning, it is not a
symmetry in a geometric sense but rather in the sense of abstract algebra.
However, the author never really goes into this aspect anywhere in the
book. So, it is not for these reasons that I list this here as
mathematical fiction.
Instead, this is mathematical fiction because of the frequent -- but
occasionally wrongheaded or misleading -- geometric analogies. She uses
non-Euclidean geometry as one of the most frequent metaphors throughout the
book. Though she sells it short by making it sound as if nobody had
thought of the idea of curved surfaces before Riemann (whose name is
mispelled in the edition of this book that I read), the analogies still
worked for me. For instance, the connection between the idea that
"parallel" lines could meet (MUST meet in projective space) is somehow
connected to the wife and mistress meeting...this is a non-Euclidean love
affair!
The book probably starts being more "literary" when the canibalism comes
into it....yes, one character eats part of another...but that was a bit
much for me. I'm not able to be very positive about this book, which I
thought was merely okay, but the critics seem to have loved it. (There's
no accounting for taste, as they say.) |