Universe of Two: A Novel
by Kiernan Stephen P.
Hardcover- $27.99

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  "Romance and Work on Manhattan Project" by ebach (see profile) 03/25/20

Stephen P Kiernan alternates chapters in UNIVERSE OF TWO: every other chapter is a third-person account, historical fiction about Charlie Fish (said to be based on the actual mathematician Charles Fisk) and his key contributions to building the atomic bomb. And every other chapter is the first-person account of Brenda Dubie and her romance with Charlie Fish, a story that is, as far as I can tell, fiction with some real historical details thrown in here and there.

Charlie's chapters are full of true history. I have a problem, though, with how much of the real Charles Fisk is portrayed by Charlie Fish. Kiernan says that Fish's life follows the skeleton of Fisk's, that is, where he went to school and what he worked on. But what about his continual crises of conscience? That is really what the whole book is about, all the chapters. Was any of that true?

We know that there really was dissent going on during the Manhattan Project. And these chapters mention some actual cases. But how did Fisk feel about the atomic bomb? Did he see it as the only way to end the war and save thousands of American lives? Or did his conscience bother him, as it did the fictional Charlie Fish, because of the many thousand Japanese lives lost? (He didn't know about the dangers of radiation exposure yet.)

Brenda's chapters bored me. Charles Fisk actually was married twice. I doubt that Brenda was based on either of his wives. She was probably just a handy way for Fish to begin his work with organs, which Fisk actually did end up doing.

I won an ARC of this book through librarything.com.

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