Friday, January 27, 2017

Schrodinger's Gat: A Review

Schrodinger’s Gat is a tight little novel that weaves a modern sci-fi thriller by tying age old philosophy debates to modern quantum physics.

The basic plot is that of a suicidal author saved from the fires of hell by a beautiful young girl. She distracts him just as he’s about to step in front of a train, and then leads him into a two-man conspiracy to prevent tragedies across the San Francisco Bay Area. She and the mad doctor for whom she works have built a machine that taps into quantum-theory to predict future tragedies, and race to stop as many as they can. The universe has other ideas, and before long the author gets swept up into a thriller story rooted in (as far as I know) accurate quantum physics, with a dash of metaphysics thrown in for good measure.

All of those fun intellectual exercises play a role in this story – the observer effect, Schrodinger’s Cat, paradoxes – and most of the background ideas should be familiar to long term fans of time-travel stories, science fiction, and popular accounts of esoteric branches of quantum physics. The theories and experiments are presented in this book a very accessible manner for those coming to these ideas for the first time, and woven into the plot in a way that won’t bore old hands already familiar with the idea.

Rob Kroese, pronounced KROO-zee it turns out, keeps the characters and the reader in suspense as the characters grapple with notions of free will, predestination, and meeting one’s fate on the road he takes to avoid it. Couple that with some gunplay, vehicle chase scenes, and knuckle biting escapes, and you’ve got yourself a tight little novel that might make your head hurt, if you think about it too hard.

One of the main characters in the book is named Heller, and that name triggered memories of Catch-22, a fitting comparison for this novel. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t, and in the end, you can never really be sure whether you really had a choice in the matter to begin with. The final confrontation is as epic as the ideas in the book, and while the end doesn’t leave the reader with a solid answer as to what, exactly, just happened…neither does philosophy or quantum physics. Which is just fine with this reader - a book like this is far more about the journey than the destination. And it does leave little doubt in one's mind about the appropriateness of the title of the book.

You expect some cleverness from a book with a title like Schrodinger’s Gat, but Rob Kroese races way past clever and doesn’t stop until he hits downright brainy.

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