Love and Other Thought Experiments: Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020
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This description probably doesn't convey what an enjoyable experience reading the book is - the science and philosophy never distracts too much from the human stories. She has to be among the nicest, and most generous interviewees, and the online tube blogger Erik Karl Anderson hosts a wonderful interview about this book.
If you are an avid reader who enjoys puzzling over experimental (but accessible) fiction - and you are not put off by existential philosophy - this one is definitely worth a look. I’ve sometimes dipped into reading science and philosophy out of a curiosity to better understand the world and the nature of being, but I often find these texts too formal and dry to engage with for very long. The novel literally brings these questions to life while telling a moving tale about a family which spans many decades and imaginatively dips into a variety of perspectives. In the book, two women are knocked off balance when their plans to have a baby together become entangled with an ant incident; the same day they decide to go ahead with the pregnancy, Rachel wakes in the night in a panic, convinced an ant has crawled into her eye.
this novel was key to Ward's PhD thesis at Goldsmiths, a thesis provisionally titled 'Imagine I Am, The Use of Narrative in Philosophical Thought Experiments' ( https://www. Ward has achieved something quite extraordinary: a super-smart metaphysical romp that's also warm, wistful and heartfelt. I am also becoming impatient with LGBT+ representation that’s simply there and doesn’t add anything to the story – I don’t think it’s wrong to do this, per se, but I really want to read books that think about LGBT+ themes, not books that just add LGBT+ characters.
At the heart of the book is a couple named Rachel and Eliza whose desire to have a child results in a multitude of unforeseen consequences. We begin the book with Eliza and Rachel, a gay couple who decide to start a family with the help of a friend. The boundary line between who’s human and not gets pretty complicated once the ant and the artificial intelligence are involved! On another, it’s a sandbox of philosophical ideas ranging from free will and the nature of consciousness, to the limits of human experience.The characters, much like test persons in a trial, act under the conditions of the experiment - the reader takes on the role of a scientist studying human behavior. The ant’s narrative describes how its reality intertwined with the host it has infiltrated, about how it begins to feel human emotion as its consciousness begins to meld with Rachel’s. The prose that was of a higher calibre was in the last half of the book, where we hear from an ant and there's a big, unexpected switch to sci-fi. The way the philosophical thought experiments, mentioned at the start of all chapters, impressively come back loosely in the tales also add to the experience in my view.
It takes 60+ pages to figure out, but you can trust all the threads will converge around Rachel and her son, Arthur, who becomes an astronaut. In some cases these are also spelled out, dare one say Sophie’s World style, in the narrative itself, whereas in others the association is rather looser.Like, I kinda of didn’t care about the plot, but I did enjoy following with the main character’s emotions. around 11 minutes) is a clear and explicit influence and, indeed, Pierre Menard actually is the autor del Quijote in one reality in the novel. Greg tells him that she is in space and it’s no surprise that Arthur eventually becomes an astronaut in America. She is diagnosed with cancer, but survives long enough have a child, Arthur, who grows up to become an astronaut. There are a few LGBTQ+ characters included at the forefront of the cast, but they seem to exist naturally and without identity-based conflict in this world, thus failing to generate any social commentary; I think it’s very important for marginalized characters to be present in books this way, as people worth the page space without having to examine their lives for the reader’s benefit, but again it doesn’t exactly help one connect to or feel for these characters.