back to article Weekend reads to tickle your intellectual palate: From Nazis to Invisibility

El Reg's avid bookworm Mark Diston chews his way through some of the latest releases from the publishing world. The Zone of Interest Martin Amis is now 66 years old and has a literary career stretching back more than four decades, yet somehow the reputation of enfant terrible still clings to him. There must be many like …

  1. John Savard


    It would have been nice for that book about the invisible to have at least some of the additional literary references you mention.

    Simply because it is thin on recent science, though, I expect it would mention the modern efforts with metamaterials to make things invisible, at least (so far) through microwaves, since I rather suspect it's those recent news headlines which inspired the making of the book in the first place.

    I can't fault it for focusing on microscopes instead of telescopes, however; if we can't see something because it's small, we may think of it as "invisible", but if we can't see something because it's far away, we don't think of it as invisible because we know we would be able to see it if we were there.

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    It would have been interesting if the parallels between 21st century dark matter and 19th century luminiferous ether had been made.

    Of which there are none. The latter was meant to transmit light at speed "c" in a preferential reference frame - we don't want this as we found out that "c" is the same in every reference frame. The former is meant to explain the experimental fact that there is far too much mass for the visible matter to account for all of it (about 5 times more). More interesting would be parallels 19th century luminiferous ether and the current idea of the "vacuum" which is a complex material with some attributes of a superconductor for color charges if I understand correctly.

  3. Colin Ritchie

    Wordsmith alert!

    Spat, the perfect word for a disagreement between punks.

  4. Paul Johnston

    Not just me then?

    "It would have been interesting if the parallels between 21st century dark matter and 19th century luminiferous ether had been made."

    1. Uncle Slacky

      Re: Not just me then?

      Indeed - the invisible and the nonexistent look very much alike...

      1. deadlockvictim

        Re: Not just me then?

        The ignored, perceived insignificant and the invisible look very alike too. It is the plot of many a book and film where the protagonist is able to wander where (s)he will on account of their ignored status.

        The author of this book could also have asked the many women in their 50's who complain that they are more or less invisible as to how it feels to be treated as (to all intents and purposes) not there.

        But then again, when it comes to decision-making on important technical matters, many technies might as well be invisible to those who are more easily swayed by the likes of Gartner and other accountants.

  5. Marissa

    Amis crit is more perceptive than most of the literary reviewers. ('flat and unappealing', weak plot, unconvincing use of WH Auden,)

    Good spot re chlorpromazine.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Amis, like most other writers, doesn’t have that rare ability of a Beckett, Proust or Murakami to dissect minutiae and wring some interest from them."

    Andy McNab goes into a lot of detail on weapon systems that I find quite interesting.

    1. MyffyW

      Pleased for you AC. If guns are your thing try 1Q84 by Murakami. You might like it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It seems to me that this should not be called a continuity error:

    There is a curious continuity error at one point when the commandant is prescribed chlorpromazine, which wasn’t even tested until five years after the war ended.

  8. Marissa

    think King of the Hill's Hank Hill nailed it, re which authors are worthy of respect, 'Tom Clancy has his own tank.'

    1. MyffyW

      Nothing wrong with Tom Clancy as part of balanced diet. Now pass me the Dairy Milk.

    2. Triggerfish

      I haven't read any of his books, but Tom Clancy put his name behind the Netforce books, if that's what he thinks good writing is he accords as much respect as Dan Brown.

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