This is a remarkable fiction debut from a young female physicist obsessed with two giants of twentieth century science: Kurt Godel, the greatest logician of the age, and Alan Turing, the breaker of the Enigma code. Janna Levin tells their parallel lives in a haunting story of tortured genius, persecution and death. Godel became delusional and ...
This is a remarkable fiction debut from a young female physicist obsessed with two giants of twentieth century science: Kurt Godel, the greatest logician of the age, and Alan Turing, the breaker of the Enigma code. Janna Levin tells their parallel lives in a haunting story of tortured genius, persecution and death. Godel became delusional and paranoid to the point he starved himself to death. Turing, despite his brilliant war work, was hounded to destruction because he was homosexual. Both men devoted their lives to the highest truths of abstract nature, yet were unable to grapple with the everyday world. A MADMAN DREAMS OF TURING MACHINES is a haunting, elegaic story that flows back and forth between Turing, Godel and the author.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-05-08 The lives of Kurt Godel (1906-1978) and Alan Turing (1912- 1954) never crossed physically, but did intellectually: Godel's incompleteness theorem implies a sort of Platonism, and Turing's mechanical decision theory implies, conversely, hard-nosed materialism. Levin, a mathematician, juxtaposes both lives in her debut novel. She begins with Godel as a young man in Vienna, his incompleteness theorem destroying the line of inquiry (arguably spearheaded by Wittgenstein, who cameos)that argued math was complete in itself; his courtship with a nightclub dancer, Adele; his misunderstanding of the Nazi takeover of Austria. Alan Turing's not very charmed life is skewed not only by what looks like autism but by being hounded for his homosexuality in Britain-after breaking the German Enigma code during WWII. Turing is an innocent in many ways, while Godel, a greater thinker, is a monster of selfishness; both, however, have a passion for the invisible that is hard to dramatize. Godel becomes a paranoid old man, living with Adele (who comes alive through Levin's shrewd novelistic guesswork) in solitude in Princeton, and eventually starving himself to death. Levin is sympathetic to all concerned, but doesn't quite make a larger point, dramatic or otherwise. (Aug. 25) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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