A physicist who helped develop the A-bomb questions the meaning of his work, cracks up, and writes a memoir of his tortured career as a scientific genius. Grant Hungerford grows up with maximum intellectual advantages and minimum emotional security. He's a child math prodigy who is soon exploring on his own beyond the mainstreams of classical math. But Grant's father deserts the family, and Mother becomes something of a nymphomaniac: when Grant, home from the Marine Air Force, catches her in bed with a young soldier (she picks them up at the USO canteen), she hangs herself. As a fighter pilot, Grant is shot down over the Pacific and suffers a mystical union with the universe while floating naked in the sea and thinking he's about to die. Later, his best friend Jake is ravaged by fire when shot down, and Grant carries a lifelong torch for lake's fiancee. Then: the momentous summons. Grant is taken into the Manhattan Project and sent to Alamagordo for the first Big Bang. And later, he heads the five-megaton Nematode underground blast project and careens into mental collapse. Jones' novel has an authentic feel: the verbalization of the workings of the math/science mind are especially impressive. If the moral themes are resounded rather too selfconsciously and without a speck of humor, this is still a worthy and insightful exploration into a special sort of mind and its dilemmas.