Mike Brown loves the universe. He is also obsessive, modest to a fault, smart and has a wickedly dry sense of humor. This book grabbed me by my imagination and my heart and mind followed. Brown wove his personal story with the astronomical story giving it more resonance (I love the idea of naming a celestial body after one’s wife or daughter). What I really enjoyed were the machinations of the academic community and the side-story of the Spanish astronomer who “stole” his discovery. I know the academic world is as cut-throat, backstabbing and gossipy as Hollywood but it’s fun to hear juicy details: the glacial pace of the astronomical committees, the apparent lack of common sense in developing standards, and the rush to publish. The book is entertaining and enlightening (Who knew what a center of mass is? I do now.) As for Pluto, well “What's in a name? That which we call a planet by any other name would spin as sweet.
Fantastic to listen to in audible format; even more enveloping than reading it. Herbert created such graphic world I could envision the worms, the landscape and the characters in my mind's eye. The detail and the thought he brought to living in a world living where every drop of water counted was just one of the great aspects of this book. The analogy with oil is precient.
I think "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" has spawned a new genre of novel like this one-- girls with abusive pasts who grow up into emotionally crippled, gender ambiguous women. The novel is set in Africa and that makes up for a lot; the detail is good and it seems well researched. At times this book teeters on the edge of romance novel. It was a fast read, entertaining enough for a plane ride, and who knew one could purposefully dislocate a thumb to escape handcuffs. Reading really expands my horizons.
I didn't think I could stand Allie for the length of the book; his character's brillance didn't make up for his insuffrable nature. Theroux, telling the book from the POV of Charley, made me sympathetic. The insight into a man teetering on the edge of obession and madness was intriguing and perspicacious; describing "Fatboy" as a reflection of Allie's mind was a great metaphor. You can understand how a man, held in check by our society, goes off into the wild and follows his instincts to the inevitable consequences. It was also a gripping story that raised valid issues about America and our values. And a great travel story as well - well researched and I could feel the country. It played into my fantasies of "what would I do if stranded on a desert island."
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