Night Thoughts of a Classical Physicist

(Fiction; Avon Books, 1982)


In an afterword to his only published work of fiction, the science historian Russell McCormmach assures readers that his novel’s hero “serves as an organizing principle for historical materials and is not, needless to say, a fully developed character.” This is an injustice to McCormmach’s complex, moving creation. Victor Jakob, an aging physicist at a second-rate university, struggles to preserve his faith in the symmetry and beauty of the physical universe in 1918 Germany. Alongside political upheaval and chaos, he is confronted with the discovery of relativity and quantum mechanics, which upends his classical learning and renders his life’s work obsolete.

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