Science Fiction

Books like As She Climbed Across the Table

As She Climbed Across the Table

1998, Jonathan Lethem


As She Climbed Across the Table is a 1997 science fiction novel by the American writer Jonathan Lethem. It is a satirical story set on the fictional campus of Beauchamp University in Northern California. Particle physicist Alice Coombs rooms with narrator Philip Engstrand, an anthropologist researching conflicts between and within disciplines. Their relationship drives the romantic aspect of this story. The novel deals thematically with many of the philosophical issues pertaining to modern quantum physics, as well as human interaction with artificial intelligence.

Lack is an emptiness created in a particle collider. Professor Soft theorized that the experiment would replicate the Big Bang and opened a wormhole to a microscopic universe and that this wormhole would close shortly after it was created, leaving the new universe attached to reality. The wormhole however is not accompanied by any events to indicate it is a physical object and so it is named Lack. Lack is characterized by its inexplicable preferences, as some particles and objects enter the space where Lack should be and fail to appear on the other side. Professor Alice Coombs is the first to discover that Lack only absorbs certain items. It takes her keys, but not a paperclip. Its only consistent property seems to be that, when Lack refuses an object once, it would forever refuse to consume that object.

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