Far in the future of the human race, the brilliant mathematician Holywelkin discovers a new physical theory that allows us to understand particle physics and build the amazing "whitsuns" which in turn let us to colonize the entire solar system. If that were not enough, he also spent his final years as a musician and composer, inventing the remarkable instrument known as "Orchestra". As this book unfolds, the current "maestro" begins to discover that these two interests (Holywelkin's mathematical physics and his music) are not unrelated. In fact, they are intertwined in a way that only the members of the mysterious "Grey" cult seem to understand.
The description of Holywelkin's theory is interesting (though, by necessity, not very detailed). Historical background is provided that includes real results (such as the Kaluza-Klein theory) making the theory seem not only interesting but even plausible. There is also much discussion of mathematical determinism -- the question of whether a mathematical theory could entirely predict the future and what the consequences of such a result would be.
I've read some professional reviews that complained about this book and its writing style, but I have no such complaints. In my opinion, it is a nicely written piece of science fiction with significant mathematical and musical themes. (I can't help wondering whether it partially inspired Greg Egan's Distress, written 10 years later and similar in so many ways.) |