A light sci-fi romance, apt reading material for watching the waves (or particles) at the beach.

QUANTUM COP

A Colorado university physicist learns she can warp reality with mind power alone, but when news of her talent leaks, a rash of “quantum crimes” hits Boulder and beyond.

Smith (Kat Cubed, 2016, etc.) announces the creation of a new sci-fi series with this takeoff on the notion that at the minuscule, quantum-physics level, an elementary piece of matter could either be a particle or a wave, open to the influence of an outside observer. What if that either/or quality of reality persisted on the macroscopic scale? In Boulder, Madison Martin, a young, newly arrived university physicist, impulsively avoids becoming roadkill in a car mishap by choosing a quantum outcome in which she wasn’t struck at all. To bystanders, the injured Madison simply blurs away and an untouched one appears among them. Madison never knew she possessed this ability. Lab tests determine it is (somewhat) reproducible and (somewhat) controllable—the somewhats contingent on the heroine’s mood and especially the presence of hunky fellow faculty member Andro Rivas, a distraction from Madison’s failing long-distance relationship with a boyfriend back East. At one point, her quantum concentration (“q-collapse”) creates a large, very symbolic opening in the cinder block wall to Andro’s office, making him a believer. But q-collapse can be wielded by anyone with training and physics moxie; soon Madison’s amoral students, having posted the secret online, are carving holes in bank vaults and otherwise perpetuating “quantum crimes” in Boulder and elsewhere. Incidental dialogue hangs a “quantum cop” tag on Madison (even though it’s her cousin who has the campus security job) as she and Andro fight the callow villains with energy bolts, teleportation, and telekinesis—all godlike stuff deftly explained as extrapolations of the quantum flux, including having boxed condoms materialize for a romantic interlude. Smith is a scientist (and sci-fi editor) and follows up the breezy narrative with a quick quantum mechanics essay. While it may seem stereotypical to spectral-analyze this lively novel as chick lit, there are indeed all the trace elements of the genre, including a college-science environment where nearly everybody is young and hot (just one humorless, gray-haired department chair) and game for making clothes dematerialize. Smith name-checks Arthur C. Clarke, whose Tales from the White Hart collection had similar playful takes on science but starred old, male fuddy-duddies.

A light sci-fi romance, apt reading material for watching the waves (or particles) at the beach.

Pub Date: May 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9861350-2-6

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Quarky Media

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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