“Two Fantasies and Particle Physics” is not the title of a real book, though it should be. You also shouldn’t listen to me because my titles suck.

I read this two months ago. A Biography of Cancer indeed!

I’ve put down 1600 usable words for ASIM, chapter 11. I’m looking forward to typing another 2000 words of John opening a werewolf treatment center in 221C and running the first international clinical trial for transfusion therapy. I giggle when I imagine John and Robert, both surgeons, grumbling about needing to dust off their oncology textbooks because they need a marker that shows the werewolf curse is gone-gone; something akin to the choriogonadotropin hormone levels (hcg) for choriocarcinoma, a cancer of the placenta.

You just never know what will inspire you when you write. The Emperor of All Maladies, case in point. I borrowed it two months ago and spent all my waking hours reading it for five days. Only now I connected choriocarcinoma with werewolf curses. It’s a beautifully written book, by the way. You shouldn’t let the subject or length stop you from reading it. 

The First Fantasy

The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, by Neil Gaiman.

I’d read anything authored by Neil Gaiman. This didn’t disappoint. It’s compelling from the start:

I can forgive myself for many things. For where I left him. For what I did. But I will not forgive myself for the year I hated my daughter, when I believed her to have run away, perhaps to the city.

… I hate myself for that, and nothing will ease that, not even what happened that night, on the side of the mountain.

When I finished reading the tale of what happened in the black mountain, I was left breathless. I had to read it again to recapture the feeling. Still amazing.

The Second Fantasy

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.

I heard about this book when I signed up for NaNoWriMo last year. I checked it out from my local library six weeks ago, and read the whole book in three hours.

The most vivid imagery I’ve ever read. The atmosphere is surreal. The two protagonists are forced to compete against each other, and the night circus is their stage. Celia can manipulate matter directly with magic. Marco can create illusions without touching the underlying reality.

The story is not about them, though. It’s about the circus. As stated from the beginning and also the end:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

And Particle Physics

Knocking On Heaven’s Door, by Lisa Randall

Knocking On Heaven’s Door, by Lisa Randall.

I wanted to like this one more than I actually did. It’s not bad. I had that glimmer of “ah, yeah, that makes sense” when Randall talked about the importance of scale when you apply physics theories. The LHC (Large Hadron Collider) chapters were interesting and I read them well. The Higgs boson chapter was probably the most understandable treatment of the hypothetical particle I’ve come across so far.

I also fell asleep twice whilst reading. I had to skip the slumber-inducing parts to get to the better bits and double-back to the boring ones to understand them. Some parts elicited sighs of exasperation. “Not this brand of scientism…” I groused more than once.

My lack of particle physics background could’ve contributed to my “meh” reaction. I’m more versed in cosmology, and those chapters I had no trouble comprehending and enjoying. I might revisit this book later after I’ve learned more quantum mechanics.