Enter the Technologists, an A-Team of students, informally convened, from the newly established Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Here I began to enjoy myself. Tribunes of the Industrial Revolution, warriors of enlightenment, pushing back the darkness with their inventions, its students and faculty are blackguarded left and right.
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The Harvard swells mock them for their closeness to the factory floor; the workers, who fear automation, throw tomatoes at them. The knowledge of science in such individuals cannot fail to lead to quackery and dangerous social tendencies.
I fancy I do. The crusty hierarchy hoarding its secrets, the gnostic devotion to Truth — thanks to Dan Brown, these things are in the DNA of the modern historical-thriller blockbuster. The Technologists have pegged him for a rogue scientist, a trickster with test tubes, and slowly, by trial and error, they draw a bead on him. There is romance, there are fisticuffs.
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Laboratories explode. The manliest of the Technologists is haunted by his memories of the Civil War. That little social call yesterday from the men in blue? You see the elements assembling.
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In a more ironic text, or one more aware of the possibility of pastiche, it might work; but Pearl appears to be using his 19th-century setting as a license to write extra-badly. There is a type of reader, I think, who likes to munch, munch, munch his way through a book like this. Not for him the dazzling compression, or the spark of novelty leaping from synapse to synapse — just a steady, satisfying rumination of printed matter. If not, not. Tell us what you think. Please upgrade your browser.
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