Science Fiction

Books like Solar


2010, Ian McEwan


Solar is a novel by author Ian McEwan, first published on 18 March 2010 by Jonathan Cape, an imprint of Random House. It is a satire about a jaded Nobel-winning physicist whose dysfunctional personal life and cynical ambition see him pursuing a solar-energy based solution for climate change.

Michael Beard is an eminent, Nobel Prize–winning physicist whose own life is chaotic and complicated. The novel takes the reader chronologically through three significant periods in Beard's life: 2000, 2005 and 2009, interspersed with some recollections of his student days in Oxford.

Middle-aged, balding and slightly overweight womanizer Beard falls into a depression after learning that his fifth wife, Patrice, has begun an affair with their builder, a man called Tarpin. Despite being a Nobel award-winning physicist Beard realizes all his best work was done as a young man and now coasts on his reputation heading a research centre in Reading that seeks to harness wind energy. One of the younger researchers at the centre, Tom Aldous, tries to speak to Beard about the potential of solar energy but Beard shuts him down.

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