Antiphony by Chris Katsaropoulus

AntiphonyAntiphony by Chris Katsaropoulus

Description from Goodreads

In this novel that explores the intersection of science and spirituality, Theodore Reveil, one of the leading lights in string theory physics, is on his way to present his latest research at a triumphant meeting of his colleagues from around the world when he realizes that he has lost the notes for his presentation. Verging on panic, he is in the middle of ransacking his hotel room for the missing notes when he is stopped in his tracks by a voice—and a vision. Shaken by what he has just experienced, he takes the stage to deliver his speech, note-less. In the midst of his distraction and confusion, he poses the question “What if the Universe, instead of being a giant machine, is really a giant thought?” Then, before his astonished colleagues, Theodore makes an even bolder assertion: “The unsolvable terms in our equations may be road signs pointing to consciousness—to God—as the missing piece of the puzzle.”

Antiphony traces the downward spiral of Theodore’s career in the wake of his controversial statements, as well as the remarkable transformation that threatens to lead him to the depths of madness—or the revelation of the Final Theory, the ultimate secret of the universe. Readers interested in the nature of the universe, consciousness, and spirit will find this novel engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking.

I gave this book four stars out of five

My thoughts:

I quite enjoyed this book. Having a personal interest in string theory and fundamental physics, the subject matter was fascinating for me, as were the philosophical questions raised regarding the existence of God and the melding of God and science in the search for that elusive theory of everything.

The story was built around how making one small mistake, in the wrong place, can bring the walls tumbling down, life crashing down around one’s ears. In this instance, the protagonist, Theodore Reveil, a physicist researching perturbation theory, found everything that he had known and worked for crumbling before his very eyes. It was interesting to see how fast a life and career that had taken years to build could unravel.

I liked Theodore Reveil. I found the crisis of conscience that he was going through fascinating – God versus science, or God and science, as opposed to all of his previous beliefs about God having no place in science or in a theory of the universe.

The character development was good. The relationships that evolved between Theodore and his family and friends, were interesting. Theodore came across as many people’s view of the eccentric, obsessed scientist, lost in his work, not really understanding or paying attention to the day-to-day world around him. He was over-analytical of everything he observed. He attempted to place common day occurrences and events within the spectrum of his knowledge and interest, questioning the most mundane of things and building some convoluted theory around them.

The book was well paced and used numerous literary devices to great effect. His ‘religious visions’ seemed to be expressed in a ‘stream of consciousness’ manner, with thoughts and images coming out roughshod and disorganised, in a rapid, rambling fashion and a blurring together of ideas. There was little punctuation, creating a kind of breathlessness to these passages, driving the reader on to the more manageable pace of the general narrative. They reminded me of the style of many passages in James Joyce’s, ‘Ulysses’.

Hearing voices in ones head is not generally accepted as a good thing, especially when one acts, based upon these voices. Theodore seems driven to act by what he has experienced, or at least during and shortly after the experience, without any real knowledge of what he is doing and against his ‘better’, or more rational, judgement. This sets up a deep internal struggle within his consciousness.

I liked the wide range of influences and topics apparent in this book – classical music and music theory, string theory, poetry, literature, mythology, spiritualism and religion. The author took all of these and used them to weave a descriptive cloak around the characters and plot.

I found this book to be well written and an enjoyable read. The ending was a little open ended for my liking, I would have liked there to be another chapter to wrap things up for me, but I suppose that this way we get to draw our own conclusions.

I would recommend this book if you are interested in the science and god question. If you enjoy literary fiction, combining poetry and prose, that deals with deep philosophical questions about the universe in which we exist, and indeed about existence itself, then you will surely enjoy this book.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by Netgalley and the publisher.