Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Book review: Schrödinger’s Gat

It’s not easy to describe Schrödinger’s Gat. Is it science fiction, or is it a mystery novel? Akin to the dead/alive cat in the famous thought experiment of physicist Erwin Schrödinger, it is at once both – and neither.
Schrödinger’s Gat, the latest novel from author Robert Kroese (Disenchanted, the Mercury series), is a gripping, surreal thriller set in the San Francisco Bay area. Not as lighthearted or comical as the author’s previous works, the protagonist of Schrödinger’s Gat is foul-mouthed, recently divorced school teacher Paul Bayes, whom we meet as he is on the verge of committing suicide at a train station. He is stopped at the last second by a young lady who oddly seems to have known in advance that he’d be there, and who indeed was present just to stop him (or was she?).

In the ensuing hours, Bayes learns that this frazzled woman actually has access to technology that allows her to foresee certain tragedies, and perhaps prevent them. And then she disappears, fulfilling the promise of the book’s tagline, “You can fight the future, but the future fights back.” Bayes’ attempts to find the young lady lead him to even more fantastical discoveries, in a unique, unpredictable plot that twists and turns through (mad?) scientists, disasters – natural and otherwise – and discussions of quantum mechanics and philosophy.

I have to admit, I not only enjoyed this book, I felt smarter after I read it. Because so much of the plot is driven by the theories and oddities of the behavior of subatomic particles (the quirks of quarks, if you will), Kroese often has the protagonist share what he’s learning on the subject as we go. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, fear not – the author conveniently labels the parts you can skip without missing out on the plot. But I found them intriguing and interesting. Hey, even if the “how” or “why” of it all goes over your head, you’ll be dazzled by how the smaller parts of our universe don’t seem to play by the rules.

In all, Schrödinger’s Gat is a page-turner – dark and science-driven, yes, but compelling and thought-provoking. In Gat, author Robert Kroese has crafted a fascinating story that recalls Heisenberg’s famous uncertainty principle: you may know where you are, but you have no idea where you’re going.


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