Saturday, April 15, 2017
An Elegant Theory - Noah Milligan
What if life, like molecules of light, existed as infinite possibilities rather than in specific points in time? This question is the elegance of Noah Milligan's An Elegant Theory (Central Avenue Publishing, November 2016).
Coulter Zahn is a doctoral student with an impossible thesis proposal: he is going to definitively and mathematically prove the shape of the universe. His professors have warned him against pursuing this fruitless line of research for fear of derailing his studies and his career, his pregnant wife is increasingly frustrated by his obsession and chronic unavailability. Yet he is unable to let it go, day after day sitting alone at the university computer, hitting "enter" after "enter," one by one testing each and every possible yet ultimately rejected equation.
All his life, Coulter has also experienced inexplicable lapses - but as the baby approaches and his work feels more futile, his stress escalates and the fugues come more and more frequently. Coulter snaps, the consequences are unthinkable, and his life fractures.
Which is his real life? Which is false? Are both simultaneously real, or altogether false? I enjoyed being drawn in by the puzzle, carefully studying the clues: Is real Coulter the Coulter of the first or third person point view? Could seemingly lapse vignettes come together to form a coherent alternate reality? Is each fragment an entire reality of its own? I loved entertaining all the possibilities, though struggled to be convinced of the emotional probability that our otherwise relatable protagonist could have done a terrible thing... or maybe I just hated to think so. Embracing uncertainty proved to be the best strategy - an intriguing and engaging novel for inquisitive readers and believers in the multiverse.
I received a complimentary copy of An Elegant Theory from the author.