This was a fantastic, fun read. A little “lighter” than many of Stephenson’s books, but still with a good, deep jab of an idea.
It begins with a rather technical premise: what if, using theories of quantum physics, you could “bring back” working magic in a small area in modern day. And what if a secretive government organization is trying to figure this out in order to use it as a weapon against other countries which are presumptively doing the same to us?
Wild idea, right? It is, and it’s a fun idea to explore. Somewhat like David Brin’s The Practice Effect in the sense that the “way out there” idea is the obvious foundation and everything that comes after is direct consequence of the juxtaposition of our modern sensibility with that of the crazy concept. But what really makes this book is the characters and how they’re developed. The stuff they go through and the time-structuring of the book add to the feeling that the main characters are truly in deep jeopardy.
This is yet another piece of evidence that goes on the “Why you should read everything Neal Stephenson writes” pile. Not that every book I’ve read by Neal Stephenson has been 5-star rated, but they are definitely all well written and have deep ideas worth thinking about.