by Peter Fitzgerald Book : Fiction
Qbits-The Perseids adventure   (2013-01-12)
Review of Qbits-The Perseids adventure by Peter Fitzgerald.
CITATION: Fitzgerald, Peter (2012). Qbits-The Perseids adventure. Glen Waverly, Victoria: Sid Harta Publishers Pty Ltd.
Reviewer: Dr W. P. Palmer.
This is an unusual book in that its anticipated audience is teenagers and young adults and this reviewer cannot claim to be in that category. The author, Peter Fitzgerald, writes in the introduction `The goal of Qbits is to hopefully inspire one teenager or adult to pursue a career in science'. This reviewer notes the split infinitive in that key sentence in spite of the author's worthy aim. Fitzgerald is evidently a business man with degrees in economics accounting and physics. I saw an online recommendation to read this book that expressed the view that the book would make young people interested in science. I also observed that it aimed to do so through introducing some characters from the history of science, which attracted me immediately as the history of science is a personal interest.
I regret to say that the book remained by my bedside for some months as I was unable to get into it. With more leisure, when travelling on a cruise, I have found that I have really enjoyed it and I hope others will enjoy it too. My advice is to persevere!
The book's plot is strange and I think my early problem with it was my inability to suspend disbelief. The hero is Tom Jackson and he and his friend, Mad Dog, are university lecturers in Sydney, Australia. One day, when they are cycling, Tom is hit by a bolt of lightning and the four historical characters in his mind at the time become real; they inhabit a world of their own called `The Great Hall'. The characters are Gallileo Gallilei, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Marie Curie and to some extent these creations of Tom's mind have personalities in ways such as they had when they were alive. However their knowledge of science, information technology and the world today is completely up to date and they are able to solve problems of American and Russian space junk colliding and releasing the Russian nuclear power source that would endanger mankind. The second half of the book involves a different problem endangering humanity and the four great scientists are able, with the help of Tom and Mad Dog to save mankind. It is all done with humour and with an element of scientific accuracy. We see the scientist's Facebook pages and appreciate that each of them is sometimes wrong. There is a learning element to the book where the character, Watto (Schrödinger's cat) who is in charge of information technology in the story, but who appears with correct factual information on every few pages. It is quite a clever idea to provide reliable learning material within a fictional story. I have not checked all the `Watto' information, but was a little suspicious because on page 132 we are told that `atoms weigh 1.66 x 10-27 kilograms'. I would have expected to have a specific element named, before an actual weight could be provided!
It is a book worthwhile persevering with, suspending disbelief, reading and enjoying the plot as it snakes hither and thither.
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