Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Love At Absolute Zero

Love At Absolute Zero by Christopher Meeks
White Whisker Books, 2011
Trade Paperback, 312 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0983632917
Love At Absolute Zero is the story of Gunnar Gunderson, a 32-year-old physicist at the University of Wisconsin. The moment he's given tenure at the university, he can only think of one thing: finding a wife. This causes his research to falter. With his two partners, Gunnar is in a race against MIT to create new forms of matter called Bose-Einstein condensates, which exist only near absolute zero. To meet his soul mate within three days--that's what he wants and all time he can carve out--he and his team are using the scientific method, to riotous results.

My Thoughts:
In Love At Absolute Zero by Christopher Meeks the plot is really quite simple: boy wants to meet girl. In this case the boy is 32 year old Wisconsin physicist Gunnar Gunderson. Gunnar gets tenure and decides he needs a wife. He consults with his research partners and they chart a course of action for him to find his soul mate in three days - which is all the time they are able to devote to the search while keeping to their research schedule. 

The premise behind Christopher Meeks's novel Love At Absolute Zero intrigued me right from the start. I know scientifically inclined geeks rather well and will admit that I could totally see one of them seriously consider using the scientific method to find a mate. Their seriousness and ability to immerse themselves in their research combined with taking a similar approach to finding a wife is where I imagined the hilarity would ensue. I was not disappointed.

Since readers of She Treads Softly know I like science in my science fiction, you will understand my curiosity when I wondered how would Meeks approach incorporating science in an purely entertaining novel. (Be sure to come back tomorrow for a guest post by Christopher Meeks where he addresses my question about the research he did to get the scientific details down pat in the novel.) I applaud Meeks for doing an admirable job keeping the science real while at the same time not bogging down the entertaining aspects of the novel with too much information about the science.

At the opening of each chapter is a quote or law that relates to physics or science in some manner. Pay attention to them because they enhance the humor in Gunnar's search. Chapter Five opens with: "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" -Albert Einstein. Chapter Seven: "The great tragedy of science: the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact." -English Biologist Thomas H. Huxley. Chapter Twenty-one: "An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field." -Neils Bohr. (As many of you know, I love good quotes!)

I found Love at Absolute Zero a very quick, entertaining, and enjoyable novel. He's also quite grounded in the real world, for example mentioning the site, and, of course speed dating. While I will admit to one minor quibble with the novel, the sheer humor and originality more than made up for it. My minor criticism is that the scientific geeks I know also all have very well developed vocabularies that they use without hesitation. As a character Gunnar was rather plain spoken in comparison to some real life counterparts. 

However, my minor complaint was all but erased when yet another funny scene occurred. My absolute favorite is in the quotes below and concerns the physicists visiting the Humanities department. Not that the novel is all humor. It is actually quite serious at times, but Meeks is a clever writer and has perfect timing - he knows when the reader needs a bit of levity to lighten up the mood. Actually, Love At Absolute Zero should be adapted to a screen play. The timing in the novel would perfectly suit a romantic comedy.
Highly Recommended

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.
Please note that the Kindle and Nook versions of the book to .99 cents for the duration of the tour. 

Come back tomorrow for a guest post by author Christopher Meeks! Be sure to visit the other Virtual Author Book Tours blogs for more reviews and opportunities to win a copy of Love At Absolute Zero


Gunnar didn't know that rushing to this meeting would become the first falling domino to lead him to the bathroom floor - but there were many steps ahead and things he might do to miss the bathroom floor. some people, strict determinists, might say that our first breath in the world sets up all that follows. Others talk about destiny. Still others argue free will. Gunnar didn't particularly like philosophy. It was too imprecise. Science was better, and he was happy with science. pg. 8-9

One screen was reserved for word processing, which included his upcoming assignments for his classes as well as a paper he was writing about strontium condensates that he'd told Jeet about. The condensates were Bose-Einstein condensates, a state of matter so rare, its properties baffled many scientists. Atoms at such low temperatures lost their individuality and physical properties, going through an identity crisis. pg. 17

He knew the way to find the right person. He should use the same approach that had always served him well: the scientific method. Use the scientific method for love. pg. 32

"Attraction and connection can't be explained any more than sunspots," said Harry. "It's about chaos."
"Anything can be explained by the scientific method," said Carl, disagreeing. "Even love."
"There has to be a science behind companionship," Gunnar said.
"You sound like Einstein saying God doesn't play with dice."
"Does this have to do with your getting tenure?" said Carl. "After I earned mine, and I was forty, I just wanted to settle down. It's how I met Jolene."
"I don't remember. She found me, I think. There's an idea of pheromones, that we put out our whiffs of desire, and women sense these things. Women sense everything, believe me." pg. 36

"There has to be a science behind sex attraction," said Gunnar. "We need the data. We're scientists. We can do this."
The other two nodded readily. "I think we can do this," said Carl.  
"We can do this," said Harry. "Three days."
"So where do we start?" said Carl.
"I know one place for answers," said Gunnar. "The humanities."
Harry loudly whispered the words "the Humanities," as if they were deep and dark, never to be mentioned.
"The theatre, specifically," said Gunnar. "That's what plays are about, right? Love?"
Both Harry and Carl shrugged their shoulders, and Harry said, "We don't know what plays are about." pg. 49

"This is how most men walk who are not dating," said Harry, and he stepped quickly and purposefully, his shoulders not moving at all. It was Gunnar's normal walk. "And this is how men on the make do it." Harry slowed down, put strut into his amble and his shoulders moved side to side.
"That looks fakey," said Gunnar.
"You don't see men do this?" asked Harry.
"Some of my male students, I suppose, but I always thought they were just from California." pg. 67
Raging Bibliomania                Sept. 12th        
Alive on the Shelves                Sept 13            
Book Briefs                              Sept. 14 & Sept. 15
Booksie's Blog                         Sept. 16           
A Casual Reader's Blog         Sept.19 & Sept 20
She Treads Softly                    Sept. 21 & Sept 22
This Miss Loves to Read        Sept. 22           
From the TBR Pile                   Sept 23            
Butterfly-o-meter Books          Sept.26  &  Sept. 27
The Book Addict                      Sept 28th & Sept 29th
Lit Endeavors                           Sept. 30           
Books and Needlepoint           Oct. 5              
My Bookshelf                            Oct 6 & Oct. 7
Gabriel Reads                           Oct. 10 & Oct. 11
Dan's Journal                            Oct. 11 & Oct. 12
Words I Write Crazy                 Oct. 12            
Ramblings of a Daydreamer   Oct. 13 & Oct. 14
Drey's Library                  Oct. 14 

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