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Review - The Sun and Moon Corrupted - Philip Ball 

 

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Science fiction by science writers...

Philip Ball has written a number of insightful science books, and here turns his attention to fiction. Ball's experience at science journal Nature comes in good stead with his excellent description of the workings of the fictional journal Natural Science, and of science conferences - though the one depicted here is on a fringe physics subject - for those who reject Einstein and still believe there is absolute space and time - it still has much of the atmosphere.

Ball makes the first three quarters of the book sing. We meet dissatisfied young journalist Lena, trying to understand one of the key characters in this fringe science, and then have a beautifully set section on this scientist and a colleague when young men in Hungary.

The book manages to bring together perpetual motion machines, the denial of Einstein's physics and alchemy in a way that keeps the reader fascinated with the mystery that is gradually unfurling.

For that alone it's well worth reading. The only let down is that in the last quarter Lena seems to absolutely lose the plot, and nothing is tied up in all that really interesting developing mystery. The reader ends up not really caring - and as such it's probably a failure - but it's a magnificent failure because those first three quarters are so good.

Smaller format paperback from October 2008: Visit bookshop Visit bookshop

Read more about Philip Ball's science books.

Reviewed by Brian Clegg                

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Last update 05 June 2007