A convoluted tale involving a U.S. president who’s a religious fundamentalist, a worldwide "epidemic of hallucinations" and earthquakes that leave no physical damage.
Much of the book's first half establishes elements of Galt’s fragile new world and shadows his theme of unintended consequences. His protagonist, Dr. John Macbeth, is an American-trained psychiatrist at Denmark’s "Copenhagen Cognitive Mapping Project." That enterprise is replicating the human brain in a computer in spite of worries that it might lead to "the Singularity, when technology and artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence." Macbeth has traveled to Boston, his former home, for a conference. While there, he visits with his brother, Casey, who has his own conference to attend soon. He’s scheduled to go to London and a scientific meeting about the "Prometheus Answer…the definitive, elegant solution that solves, once and for all, the way the universe works." Meanwhile, another psychiatrist is called to Camp David to consult with President Elizabeth Yates, who is experiencing visions of past presidents long-dead. Yates is not alone in her supposed delusion. Around the world, bizarre psychic phenomena are unfolding: A French teenager believes she’s watching Joan of Arc’s execution; a Dutch boy observes a Viking raid; a Boston woman experiences a Paleozoic jungle. All this "Temporary Non-Pathological Hallucinatory Syndrome"—"a feeling of inexplicable resonances"—comes with a grocery list of complicated psychiatric and quantum physics terminology and regular references to a mysterious author and his book that is—or isn’t—buried somewhere deep in the Internet. Characters are hard to care about, and narrative threads (the president’s, the Mapping Project originator's, etc.) fall by the wayside. Although offense might be taken because of derogatory references to religion, the intellectual premise and cautionary philosophy in Galt’s complexly plotted novel are worthy subjects. Be prepared for some heavy reading on the hubristic hypothesis that "[s]cience will make us God."
A complex thriller with a cagey "what’d I miss?" conclusion.