My book club selection for February.
I was a little psyched to read this, because it's written by the same
author that the movie The Prestige was written by - but I didn't
perceive any similarities.
This is definitely an "idea" book (as opposed to a plot- or
character-driven book). The author saw some diagrams based on
hyperbolic math equations, and basically said, "hmm... what if a
planet existed that was based on the physics of a hyberboloid?"
Such a place is experienced by the denizens of The City (which, to us,
might resemble a giant, ramshackle wooden building than an actual
city). The City is in constant motion, laying down tracks in front of
it, and tearing them up behind, traveling through what seems to be a
poverty-stricken, third-world landscape, always in a desperate attempt
to keep up with "the optimum" - a point which is always moving
Most of the City's inhabitants know nothing of the optimum, and never
even go outside. However, when Helward Mann is recruited to an elite
group, he becomes part of the plan to always keep the city moving...
and the secret is bequeathed to him that they are not even on earth,
and if they fall behind the optimum, bizarre distortions of time and
It's an interesting book, but I felt that the author started it
without deciding how he was going to finish it, and I thought that the
way it was finished left gaping holes (and contradictions) in the
logic of what was previously laid out in the plot. (To go into details
would be a total spoiler, however, so I won't!)