Thursday, April 12, 2012


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Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman, Pantheon Books, 1993, 179 pp

What an unusual little book. It is called a novel but it has no story. Albert Einstein works as a patent clerk in Switzerland. All we are told is that he is a young man about to mail a copy of his new theory of time to a German journal of physics, that he is married but neglects his wife, and that he is near the Aare River.

From that point on each short chapter is an example of what life would be like under different theories of what time is and how it works. These vignettes are like dreams. The title suggests they are Einstein's dreams.

I don't know much about Einstein except that he invented the Theory of Relativity. I don't know as much as I would like to about Time, except that it has always bothered me to live life ruled by clocks and schedules. I once tried to read A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking but did not get very far.

I don't think I have a scientific mind. My husband is sure I don't but that he does. My father tried to help me learn science and I am still learning. Sometimes I am suspicious that science is a trick men use to make women feel weak and small.

I liked Alan Lightman's dreams. He may have called them Einstein's; it may be that theories are dreams. All I know is that an hour or two of reading these dreams about time chilled me out more than anything I have read recently.

(Einstein's Dreams is available in paperback and eBook by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it at your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)

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