Mobius Dick Hardcover – Unabridged, 18 Jun 2004
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'the most rewarding book I have read all year.' -- Independent On Sunday, 27th June, 2004
Dazzling. -- Suzi Feay, Independent on Sunday
Highly readable -- Martin Gayford, Sunday Telegraph
I loved it! -- Fay Weldon, Radio Four
It is perhaps the only novel about quantum mechanics you could imagine reading while lying on a beach. -- Guardian
a wise, funny, alert and original novelist who has never disappointed. -- Jonathan Coe
Already the world is becoming a very different place: amnesia, telepathy, false memory and inexplicable coincidences all seem to be occurring more frequently with humorous, brain teasing results. Could quantum experiments have cuased the collapse of our univere's space-time continuum?See all Product description
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There can certainly be no question about the thought-provoking. In its three hundred pages this book offers a wide swathe of subjects including theoretical physics with cameo appearances from Schrodinger, psychology and the interpretation of dreams, the travails of nineteenth century novelists with an exchange between Hermann Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the descent into mental disrepair of Robert Schumann, all enmeshed with some what-if speculations about the outcome of the last world war and a contemporary physicist's recollections of an old lover. 'What, no ventriloquists? I hear you ask, and that does indeed some to be one of the few fields of artistic endeavour that doesn't rate a mention.
On reflection I feel I did enjoy it. It is not an easy read, but it is rewarding, though I also think that some of the apostrophising was a little over-extended. Hamlet with nothing but the prince, perhaps, and a surfeit of tangential sidebars.
I'd not come across this writer before, and bought the book on a bit of a whim. What a lucky choice.
If you like books that are packed with great ideas, and that have many different threads and themes running through them, and that encourage you to keep pausing to leaf back to a previous section, so as to piece the ideas together, you'll love this one.
I particularly agree with one of the comments on the back which pointed out that the book unpacks a complex set of ideas with great lightness. That is, the ideas are complex and developed at a terrific pace, yet they are somehow presented in such an animated way that they come to life before you. Much more helpful than a physics textbook in my opinion!!
Judging by the comments made by reviewers of other books by the same author, Crumey enjoys evolving multiple threads in parallel, and weaving them together. This is certainly true of Mobius Dick. We are led through a bewildering maze of 'hypertext' connections over space and time, including Nietsche, Schumann, Hermann Melville, Nathianel Hawthorne, and Schrodinger, as we explore the book's fundamental concepts of parallel universes and universal mind in a dizzying sequence of scene shifts. Clearly, the 'multi-thread' technique lends itself well to the parallel reality idea - as even within the epilogue we are challenged to re-evaluate just which are the 'really real' bits. The concept of universal mind linking the different realities together probably sounds rather esoteric when stated baldly, but the connection between the two central male characters in the modern era, and the various incarnations of the lead female character, bring this concept vividly to life.
This book is a lot more than a primer for quantum physics though. Crumey is equally at home in the artistic/philosophical arena as he is in the physicist's camp - something which cannot be said of much science-fiction. (In fact I struggle to think of a genre to neatly pigeon-hole this book - it transcends so many things... fantasy, historical fiction, sci-fi, philosophy, thriller.). So the effect is holistic - with all the different layers combining to deliver a tremendous punch, within a stunning conclusion.
My only slight criticism would be around the characterisation of the key figures in the modern world. Although we get a keen sense of the character of several of the historical figures (the philandering Schrodinger, the romantic Melville and Schumann's ageing lady friend), I wasn't entirely convinced by Ringer... he is a Scientist first and last, but somehow lacks the kind of human depth of the historical figures. He needs a weakness to make him more real.
This is a very minor criticism though in what is a unique and thoroughly challenging book. Read it, it's wonderful.
Above all it is an excellent, page turner of a story with magnificent twists and turns kept to the very end (though as the title hints, "end" isn't quite the right word.)
Crumey paints a wonderful picture of quantum entanglement pulling at threads through time. He ties it together in a complex but satisfying detective tale that certainly left me wanting more.
Very good indeed.