Monday, February 6, 2012

The Technologists-Matthew Pearl

The Technologists

Matthew Pearl

Random House, Feb 21 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9781400066575

In 1868 Boston, recently established Massachusetts Institute of Technology sets its missions as using science to benefit mankind and accept any student who meets the difficult entrance criteria. As the first class of fifteen will soon graduate, in the harbor, ships collide when their instruments spin out of control while an unusual deep fog blankets the area. In the city center, glass liquefies leaving mass deaths and horrific injuries to those working in the business district.

The city police are baffled with the events, which may not even be criminal as it could be Mother Nature reacting to technology. They ask Harvard for help. Meanwhile MIT charity scholar student Marcus Mansfield and his friends (Beacon Hill Brahmin Robert Richards, genius Edwin Hoyt, and lone female Ellen Swallow) form a secret club to investigate the seemingly inexplicable tragedies using the scientific method.

Using real history anchored by the upstart insane MIT Today and an anti-technology fervor; fans obtain a strong Post Civil War alternate history thriller. The storyline showcases the beginning of the age of science and technology in which many groups prefer the status quo and oppose such concepts as Darwinism, chemistry teaching, and other innovations that we take for granted (or do we with challenges to Darwinism by supporters of Creationism as a science instead of a belief). Although perspective changes too frequently even if that adds depth to looking at 1868, the heroes are brave and amusing with Swallow being a real MIT student (and environmental scientist) as they set out to save Boston from natural or man-made disasters.

Harriet Klausner

No comments: