Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Flicker Men by Ted Kosmatka - Fascinating and Soooo Over My Head At the Same Time! Science Fiction Lover Alert!

Satvik was the first to ask my area of research.
"I'm not sure," I told him.
"How can you not be sure? You are here, so it must be something."
"I'm still working on it."
He stared at me, taking this in, and I saw his eyes change--his understanding of me shifting, like the first time I heard him speak. And just like that, I'd become something different to him.
"Ah," he said. "I know who you are now, they talked about you. You are the one from Stanford."
"That was eight years ago."
"You wrote that famous paper on decoherence. You are the one who had the breakdown."
Satvik was blunt, apparently. "I wouldn't call it a breakdown."
He nodded, perhaps accepting this; perhaps not. "So you still are working in quantum theory?"
"I'm done with it."
His brow creased. "Done? But you did important work."
I shook my head. "After a while, quantum mechanics starts to affect your worldview."
"What does this mean?"
"The more research I did, the less I believed."
"In quantum mechanics?"
"No," I said. "In the world."

The Flicker Men

It is impossible that God should ever deceive me,
since in all fraud and deceit is to be found a certain imperfection.

By Ted Kosmatka

OMG, I have to say up front that, for me, some parts of this book was well over my head regarding scientific work and jargon...However, if you are in the same boat as I am, let me quickly say that my lack of a science background did not prevent me from totally enjoying this fascinating, unique and somewhat scary science fiction novel...

The long-term battle between science and religion surely takes a hit, because the work description, the characters, and the activities of the characters has been so carefully and realistically created that you are almost ready to accept...

Accept what?  Oh, how about the proof of the soul? That enough to get you interested?

What have we here? I blew the dust off the top
and pried the lid open. The crowbar slipped
from my hand and clanged to the floor. I stared
into the fourth box for a long time. It took me
a minute to convince myself that it might be what
I thought it was. Very quickly, I closed the box,
hammered the lid down, and went to the transport
computer...I clicked the property received button
next to the transport number and typed my
name into the space provided. My finger
hesitated over the keyboard. I hit return.
With that, the box was mine.
The main character, Eric Argus, is a brilliant scientist, who had some mental issues and moved into alcoholism while working on a major project. As the book opens he is considering suicide...

The wind gusted. I told myself I'd brought the gun for protection, but sitting here in the dark sand, I no longer believe it. I was beyond fooling myself...My sister, Marie, had called it a good thing, this new place that was also an old place.
A new start, she'd said over the phone. Away from what happened in Indianapolis. You can do your work again. You can continue your research.
Yeah, I'd said. A lie she seemed to believe...
I turned my face away from the ocean and took another burning swig. I drank until I couldn't remember which hand held the gun and which the bottle. I drank until they were the same.

But Eric had been contacted for a new opportunity by an old friend, to work with over 150 scientists on new innovative activities. He came there having no idea what he was going to do--anything other than his earlier research perhaps? An interesting point for me was that everybody worked to remove equipment from crates, that was coming in from all over the world... And it was claimed by one individual or another, entered into the computer as allocated to him or her and then became his property, part of his lab. And that is how Eric discovered what he would work on...he found it...

"What is it?" He was looking at the board again.
"You ever hear of the Feynman double-slip?" I said.
"Physics? That is not my area, but I have heard of Young's double-slit."
"It's the same thing, only instead of light it uses a stream of electrons."
I put my hand on the box that was still resting on the hand dolly. "And a detector. I found it in the crate, along with a thermionic gun.
Satvik looked at the box. "Gun?"
I nodded "Feynman claimed every situation in quantum mechanics can be explained by saying, 'You remember the case of the experiment with two holes? It's the same thing.'" I patted the box. "This is that thing."
"Why are you doing this project?"
"I want to see what Feynman saw."

"Once you believe in quantum mechanics," I said, "It's hard to rule something out merely because it is impossible."
He glanced toward the apparatus. "But what are you expecting to prove?"
"Just one thing," I said. "That sometimes the impossible is true."

Other reviewers talk about immediately wanting to discuss this book...I find myself wanting to present a brief of the whole thing, but, of course, that is a no-no. Nevertheless, Eric did what he wanted to do--he proved the impossible...the existence of the soul...

But surely you didn't think that was where it was going to end?!!! Not!

We all know that each discovery must be thoroughly test and retested...And that's when a major religious figure got into the act...Eric had published his findings, giving credit to the two other men who had joined his project, and now the scientific world was buzzing... Others moved to do or modify what he'd been working on. 

Soon there was a sponsored study as to when a baby gained his conscious observation... The aim, of course, was to prevent the continuation of abortion. By that time, Satvik was working totally with Eric and when the additional testing started, it was Satvik who took the research "on the road" for more testing... First they had tested with frogs on through to chimps and bonobo... When Eric concluded, "We're alone..." The testing began on humans...

"It's called retrocausality. By erasing the results after the experiment was run, I caused the particle pattern to never have occurred in the first. Place."
Satvik was silent for five full seconds. "Is such a thing possible?"
"Of course not, but there it is. Unless a conscious observer makes an  ascertainment of the detector results, the detector itself will remain part of the larger indeterminate system..."

Satvik said, "So this is what you wanted to see?"
"Is it different for you now that you've actually seen it?"
I considered this for a moment, exploring my own mind. "Yes it is different," I said. 
"It is much worse.,,"

It is difficult for me to pinpoint just exactly when everything began to get really weird...I had dealt pretty well with the introduction of the Flicker Men... But when Eric went back to his former lab and met with his earlier partner, he discovered that the research there had gone far beyond where they had been when Eric had left...

"It's all broken open now. If you listen closely, you can almost hear it." He closed his eyes, face serene.
"Hear what?"
"He opened his eyes. "Gabriels horn." He stared at me, and his smile broadened. "You asked why you were here, Eric, and that is your answer. The time of the eberaxi is upon us."
In other words, you have to read it to believe what happens...Don't ask me how a book that explains so much, yet in such complex, complicated theory, can keep you in suspense throughout the story, but this book did it! Highly recommended...

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark.
--Wendell Berry


Hi, I'm Ted

I studied biology and chemistry at Indiana University but dropped out after my father died. Over the next several years, I moved from job to job, holding down a strange mix of occupations. Among other things, I've been a zookeeper, a chem tech and a truckstop dishwasher.

Eventually, like my father and grandfather, I found steady work in the Indiana steel mills. I started as a laborer in the blast furnace department of LTV Steel but later bid into the chem lab, working the midnight shift while continuing to chip away at a degree. After graduating, I worked in various quality control laboratories for a while and eventually landed in a research lab where I worked with electron microscopes. While all that was going on, I was also writing, and getting rejected, a lot. I collected a whole drawer full of rejections before making my first professional short story sale to Asimov's Magazine in 2005.

Since then I've continued writing and have been lucky enough to continue selling my work. I've been honored to see my stories reprinted in books and magazines around the world. In 2009, I was offered a writing position in the video game industry, so I took the leap, left my job in the research lab, and moved across country.