Synopses & Reviews
A grand gothic novel of the outer reaches of passion -- of the body and of the mind -- PROPERTIES OF LIGHT is a mesmerizing tale of consuming love and murderous professional envy that 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 are three physicists: Samuel Mallach is a brilliant theoretician unhinged by the professional glory he feels has been stolen from him; Dana is his intriguing and gifted daughter, whose desperate devotion to her father contributes to the tragic undoing of Justin Childs, her lover and her father's protege. All three are working together to solve some of the deepest and most controversial problems in quantum mechanics, problems that challenge our understanding of the "real world" and of the nature of time.
The book grapples with these elusive mysteries, but at its heart is a fiery love story of startling urgency. Insights into quantum mechanics and relativity theory are attached to the nerve fibers of human emotions, and these connections are alive with poignancy and pathos.
For these characters, the passion to know and understand, like the desire for love, is full of terrible risk, holding out possibilities for heartbreak as well as for ecstasy. The true subject of Properties of Light is the ecstatic response to reality, perhaps the only response that can embrace the erotic and the poetic, the scientific and the spiritual. Written with, and about, a rare form of passion, this incandescent novel is fiction at its most daring and utterly original.
"Brilliantly told . . . Goldstein's style is magnetic, with a poetic economy... She makes the physics fascinating."
"Chronicles the quest of three physicists seeking to reconcile quantum mechanics and relativity theory ... bewitchingly ethereal ... gracefully deconstructs our contradictory impulses." Publishers Weekly
"Goldstein brings . . . an ability to . . . reveal . . . the large and immutable principles that stand . . . behind even the smallest and most intimate gestures." Elle
"Goldstein certainly writes with knowledge of both science and emotion, shining light on both for her readers." Library Journal Starred
"A brilliant novel by a master of the world of ideas, the English language, and the human heart." -- Steven Pinker, author of How the Mind Works
"Explores the powerful tension between our desire to know and our desire to love, revealing the dangers inherent in both." Memphis Commercial Appeal
Now in paperback, this grand Gothic novel is about the outer reaches of passion--of the body and of the mind--and about the betrayals that so often breed in that perilous place. "Properties of Light" carries the reader into the very heart of a physics problem so huge it thwarted even Einstein: the nature of light.
With Properties of Light, the award-winning author of The Mind-Body Problem gives us one of the magnificent performances in contemporary fiction, a fusion of the imagination and intellect . . . achingly beautiful, moving, and intriguing on every page” (Charles Johnson). 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. Luminous, incendiary . . . Properties of Light is a novel of cool grace and dark lyricism, lit by the imaginative fire of physics and its improbable cosmologies” (New York Times Book Review).
About the Author
Rebecca Goldstein is the author of four novels, including THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM, and a collection of short stories, STRANGE ATTRACTORS. Her work has won numerous prizes, including two Whiting Awards. In 1996, she was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. She holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University, where her work was concentrated in the philosophy of science and was supported by a National Science Foundation fellowship. She resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.