Thursday, 20 February 2014

Review – Schrodinger’s Cat, By Eileen Schuh

Reviewed by Chris Longmuir

I found this to be an unusual and intriguing book. The theme is based on quantum physics and the theory of Schrodinger’s cat, as well as Everett’s Many Worlds Theory. I did look these theories up on the internet, but I’m afraid I don’t have the kind of brain which assimilates quantum physics and the Schrodinger’s cat theory was beyond me, while the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that ‘The Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI) is an approach to quantum mechanics according to which, in addition to the world we are aware of directly, there are many other similar worlds which exist in parallel at the same space and time. The existence of the other worlds makes it possible to remove randomness and action at a distance from quantum theory and thus from all physics.’

Chorie, the main character in Schrodinger’s Cat, is living two lives. In one life, her daughter is dying and in the other one, her daughter is healthy and Chorie is pregnant. But which life is the real one? Or is she indeed living in two alternative worlds? Or is the first life the real one, and the other one just wishful thinking? These were the thoughts circulating in my mind as I delved deeper into the story.

In the first life, Chorie is trying to prevent her husband taking her dying daughter from their home in Canada to Seattle, for experimental treatment which he believes will prolong her life, while Chorie just wants her daughter to die in peace. The situation becomes increasingly ugly with legal proceedings and a custody battle. In her second life she goes to Seattle to consult with a rather sinister Dr Penny, who tells her about the Many Worlds theories and convinces her she is living two lives. He offers to help by getting rid of one of her lives for her. But which life will she get rid of? And what if she chooses the wrong one?

While reading this book I found the movement between the different lives, confusing, and I was never really sure which life I was reading about. However, on reflection, I think this mirrored Chorie’s own confusion, because she was never sure either, and the sign of a good writer, is one who is able to invoke in the reader the same feelings the character is experiencing. As the story progressed I felt that Chorie was becoming more and more disturbed, and I started to wonder whether she was actually crazy. Chorie was wondering the same thing.

The book does actually come to a satisfactory conclusion which is, on the whole, understandable, although there is sadness as well as joy. I’m really glad I read this book because it gave me lots to think about, and was certainly something very different to my usual choice of reading.

Chris Longmuir


You can buy Schrodinger’s Cat at amazon.co.uk
and at amazon.com