Solar, by Ian McEwan (also climate change) Dr. Michael Beard’s best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions, and halfheartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. Meanwhile, Michael’s fifth marriage is floundering due to his incessant womanizing. When his professional and personal worlds collide in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself for Michael to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and save the world from environmental disaster. But can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity?
Properties of Light, by Rebecca Goldstein This mesmerizing tale of consuming love and murderous professional envy carries the reader into the very heart of a physics problem so huge and perplexing it thwarted even Einstein: the nature of light. Caught in the entanglements of erotic and intellectual passion, three physicists grapple with mysteries of science as well as mysteries of the heart with consequences not even their finely honed intellects can predict.
Mrs. Einstein, by Anna McGrail Anna McGrail has imagined an amazing yet plausible life for this indomitable woman, one that spans the scientific history of the modern world from the theory of relativity to the atomic bomb and that moves from the plains of rural Hungary to the death camps of Germany to the laboratory at Los Alamos where the entire world was put under threat of annihilation. It is Lieserl’s sole burning desire to learn physics, to beat her father at his own game, to teach him that his actions—whether giving away a daughter or unlocking the secrets of the universe—have consequences that cannot be denied.
Einstein’s Dreams, by Alan Lightman Einstein’s Dreams is a fictional collage of stories dreamed by Albert Einstein in 1905, about time, relativity and physics. As the defiant but sensitive young genius is creating his theory of relativity, a new conception of time, he imagines many possible worlds. In one, time is circular, so that people are fated to repeat triumphs and failures over and over. In another, there is a place where time stands still, visited by lovers and parents clinging to their children. In another, time is a nightingale, sometimes trapped by a bell jar.
Particles and Luck, by Louis B. Jones Mark Perdue and Roger Hoberman have nothing in common—except the joy of adjoining yards. Mark is a whiz-kid physicist who knows that his “genius” stature and his endowed chair at Berkeley are bits of dumb luck; Roger is the owner of a pizza franchise whose luck has turned dumb—in financial and marital distress, he has been denied child visitation rights but not babysitting obligations. Now luck, in the form of an adverse claim on their property, brings Mark and Roger together for a fateful Halloween night neither of them will ever forget.
Radiance, by Louis B. Jones Mark is visiting Los Angeles with his ambitious daughter, Carlotta, so she can attend a “Celebrity Fantasy Vacation,” in which she is promised three days and two nights of the rock star lifestyle. On stage, Carlotta sings her way to a new self-confidence, giving Mark a glimmer of joy in her sense of victory. But then she disappears with her newly acquired paraplegic boyfriend to take an excursion to the Hollywood sign and gets them all arrested, Mark included. Mark now faces a night in jail—and maybe a hint of what he really needs to be happy.
Gut Symmetries, by Jeanette Winterson One starry night on a boat in the mid-Atlantic, Alice, a brilliant English theoretical physicist, begins an affair with Jove, her remorselessly seductive American counterpart. But Jove is married. When Alice confronts his wife, Stella, she swiftly falls in love with her, with consequences that are by turns horrifying, comic, and arousing. Vaulting from Liverpool to New York, from alchemy to string theory, and from the spirit to the flesh, Gut Symmetries is a thrilling novel by England’s most flamboyantly gifted young writer.