Sunday, August 8, 2010

This weekend, I've done little except nap and read and try to recover my good senses, such as they are. After such intense experiences (the conference, wedding, readings,etc.), it's as if I have to crouch under a blanket and block all incoming input for a day or two. Nothing new, please! my system demands, I'm not done with the old stuff.  No conversation, no hot discussions, sometimes not even music; I have to damper myself down.

So this weekend, I've bounced between reading a novel, taking 3 and 4 hour naps and lounging on the hammock with my new poetry books. And by bouncing, I mean dropping the book over my face as I fade into dreamland, or wavering down the back stairs to the hammock with a pillow, a blanket and a cup of tea.  It feels wickedly indulgent. Especially the not talking to anyone part.

I'm adoring "Percival's Planet", Michael Byer's latest novel. The four storylines seem so far apart at the start; it's fascinating to see the little ways they begin to connect, pulling the web of the novel together. Like seeing the stars that you know make a constellation; first they are just bright, unconnected stars in a loose array at some section of the sky; then you begin to see the faint lines - then the whole constellation pops into place.

The characters, the place, the time, all are so loving wrought and evoked; I just fall into it. But I'm also kind of a sucker for science in literature. It's a huge chunk of what we know, for one thing; it's fascinating for another. And even though most of the math is astronomically (not sorry) over my head in this book, I don't have to parse out the equations, there will be no test; I get the gist of it enough to follow the story. And I love just hearing about the math and physics, seeing how it's used. The language of it. The derivation of linear least squares, the residuals. the complex laws of orbital resonances. I love that Byers includes all the mechanics of grinding the glass lenses, the Carborundum, the iron sesquioxide and the structure of telescopes; that he has shows us the unrelenting grind of most scientific work and the politics that swirl around discoveries.

But it's not just about deep sky; there are also dinosaurs involved. Deep time.

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