Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Max Allan Collins Quarry In The Middle

If the novels about hit-man Quarry continue to be this good, they may rival Max Allan Collins' most famous series, the Nathan Heller books.

The two series have one thing in common, that being Collins' skill in bringing past eras alive. In Quarry In The Middle Quarry is at work doing the Reagan administration. Collins' snapshots of that time--from hair style to attitudes--are almost as entertaining as the story itself. He does sociology on the run, defining the various kinds of hierarchies he sees--tough vs. faux tough; important vs. self-important; sexy vs. buffonish.

But above all there's that relentless storytelling, Quarry hiring out to learn who's trying to kill a mob-connected Brit who runs an upscale nightspot with a big casino attached. The portrait of the Brit's estranged wife is particularly well done as are Quarry/Collins' comments on a music industry that no longer values the kind of music that Rodgers and Hart, Duke Ellington and Cole Porter made so famous.

And the twists keep on coming. As usual Quarry finds himself at moments in the Twilight Zone, trying to figure out who is who and why is why. But that's what keeps you turning the pages of this sleek, savvy, killer story.

-----------THE COLLIDER

As someone who grew up reading science fiction and took such novels as Jerry Sohl's great Costigan's Needle seriously, I was properly interested and terrified (seriously) when one of the theories about the Large Hadron Collider was that when it started up it would swallow our entire planet in a kind of black hole. Remember, these are serious scientists making these kinds of speculations.

But now there's an even more bizarre if less deadly theory. From the NY Times this morning:

More than a year after an explosion of sparks, soot and frigid helium shut it down, the world’s biggest and most expensive physics experiment, known as the Large Hadron Collider, is poised to start up again. In December, if all goes well, protons will start smashing together in an underground racetrack outside Geneva in a search for forces and particles that reigned during the first trillionth of a second of the Big Bang.

Then it will be time to test one of the most bizarre and revolutionary theories in science. I’m not talking about extra dimensions of space-time, dark matter or even black holes that eat the Earth. No, I’m talking about the notion that the troubled collider is being sabotaged by its own future. A pair of otherwise distinguished physicists have suggested that the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather.

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1 comment:

Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

Hah. As someone who has a degree in physics I wouldn't be too concerned about this.