|This is a beautifully written novel about a theoretical physicist who
hates the daughter of a more senior physicist whose work he
admires. The real plot of the novel revolves around why he hates her, and
I can't tell you that without spoiling the book. So you'll just have to read it
to find out. But, along the way, we also learn a bit about quantum physics
and in particular the view of this subject held by the characters in the
book. Of course, that would make this "physical fiction" not "mathematical
fiction", except for the fact that it is presented very mathematically.
What I mean is this: if one talks about quantum physics using words like
"particle" and "wave" without ever defining those things in mathematical terms, then one is not
really discussing mathematics explicitly. However, when the discussion is
more precise, as it is here, including questions of whether there should
be non-linear terms in the Schrodinger equation and what a wave function
is, then one is in the realm of mathematical physics. This book definitely
does so, and this is how I justify it as being "mathematical fiction", even
though it is less mathematical than some of her earlier works including The Mind-Body Problem and Strange
It seems clear to me that the physics in this book is based on the work of
David Bohm, whose work on quantum physics is viewed by many as having been
important and underappreciated.
Any lay reader would be totally at sea as, certainly in the beginning, the book seems more textbook than novel. Still the playing around with time is clever and her writing is sometimes poetic and enchanting. I suppose one can only write about what one knows and within the limits of one's intelligence. Unfortunately Ms Goldstein is too intelligent for most readers I know.