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The Technologists

March 22nd, 2012 · Posted by Skuds in Life · No Comments · Life

I recently finished reading The Technologists by Matthew Pearl, another book from Amazon’s Vine programme. It is a hefty 480-page hardback, but thankfully it is a good old-fashioned ripping yarn and reading it was more a pleasure than a struggle. Here is what I wrote about it.

This book is set in a semi-fictional version of MIT as its very first intake of students gets ready to graduate, which is an interesting place and time. It was a time when the possibilities and exploitation of science were being realised while large chunks of society were still either afraid of science or just dismissive of it.

I say semi-fictional because although this is very obviously a work of fiction, a lot of the names are those of real students and staff at that time, and I think the author does a good job of integrating the real history with some major fictional events. All of which gives it a bit of a steampunk feeling even though the science involved is what you would expect at that time.

With the story concentrating on a group of students, it sort of felt like a Harry Potter for grown-ups, with MIT being like a Hogwarts of science. There is even a female within the group, which lets the story touch on the position of women in society at the time.

For all the historical detail, science and politics, the book is very much plot-driven and you don’t need to like or even really understand the other stuff to enjoy the story. As with any good thriller I spent a lot of the time trying to work out whodunnit, changing my mind several times along the way. By the time I was within sight of the end I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

Another book that could be turned into a very good film.

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