About the book
Eric Argus is a physicist with a troubled past. After a mental breakdown he is given a second chance to revive his stalled career by an old friend at Hansen Research in Boston. The plot centers around the double slit experiment, demonstrating the dual nature of light and matter as both particle and wave. In The Flicker Men Argus takes the experiment one step further, rigging detectors to a light bulb that lights up when the detectors register particles passing the slits. An observer can thus collapse the wave into particles simply by witnessing the light bulb lighting up. When Argus expands on his experiment he stumbles upon a discovery that changes the world. Literally.
The Flicker Men is a fast-paced science fiction thriller about quantum physics. It poses questions about free will, the structure of the universe, about the human soul, and the human condition. It questions the very nature of our existence.
The Flicker Men is, in many ways, a very difficult read. The science, though explained as plainly as I believe it can be, is sometimes hard to grasp for a layman like me. I’ve got many, many years of college (including some math), and a vivid interest in science, but I’m still not sure exactly what the sphere does. If you’ve read the book and you have a clear idea, please enlighten me! I find quantum physics fascinating (in a ‘How can that be? *mindblown*’-kind of way) and I think you would have to in order to enjoy this book.
Besides the science bit I found it difficult to read because I wasn’t always sure that what I was reading was what was actually happening. It was difficult to follow, at times. While there’s almost no slow moments sometimes the plot lines get tangled and a little messy. I was also just a little bit annoyed with how long we had to wait to find out what had happened to Eric in his past, and as far as the events in Indianapolis go we actually didn’t get a clear explanation at all. At a total of only 307 pages surely there was room to expand on this.
I love the idea behind this book. I love how it forces you to consider our place in the world. It’s truly a fabulous thought-experiment. There’s also some really wicked adversaries. The Flicker Men, for one. I mean, the term alone just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?
This book is dark and raw and edge-of-your-seat action packed, and full of ideas that will make you question… well, everything. It asks the question ‘What is real?’ but I’m not sure it answers it. Maybe that’s how it was meant to be, because, after all, I don’t think we really have the answer to that question.
This will be one of those books that I’ll come back to in my thoughts time and again over the years, contemplating the questions it raises and how I look at the world. In my opinion that’s the mark of greatness. On the other hand it’s just a little bit too “out there” for me sometimes. A little too mixed-up. I like things clear. But I will say this, if you’re the kind to ponder the human condition and our place in the universe, this is a must read. It’s definitely worth the read, and I give it .
About the author
Ted Kosmatka was born and raised in Chesterton, Indiana, and spent more than a decade working in various laboratories where he sometimes used electron microscopes. He is the author of Prophet of Bones and The Games, a finalist for the Locus Award for Best First Novel and one of Publishers Weekly‘s Best Books of 2012. His short fiction has been nominated for both the Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards and has appeared in numerous Year’s Best anthologies. He now lives in the Pacific Northwest.