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A quantum physicist shocks the world with a startling experiment, igniting a struggle between science and theology, free will and fate, and antagonizing forces not known to exist. Eric Argus is a washout. His prodigious early work clouded his reputation and strained his sanity. But an old friend gives him another chance, an opportunity to step back into the light. With three A quantum physicist shocks the world with a startling experiment, igniting a struggle between science and theology, free will and fate, and antagonizing forces not known to exist. Eric Argus is a washout. His prodigious early work clouded his reputation and strained his sanity. But an old friend gives him another chance, an opportunity to step back into the light. With three months to produce new research, Eric replicates the paradoxical double-slit experiment to see for himself the mysterious dual nature of light and matter. A simple but unprecedented inference blooms into a staggering discovery about human consciousness and the structure of the universe. His findings are celebrated and condemned in equal measure. But no one can predict where the truth will lead. And as Eric seeks to understand the unfolding revelations, he must evade shadowy pursuers who believe he knows entirely too much already.


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A quantum physicist shocks the world with a startling experiment, igniting a struggle between science and theology, free will and fate, and antagonizing forces not known to exist. Eric Argus is a washout. His prodigious early work clouded his reputation and strained his sanity. But an old friend gives him another chance, an opportunity to step back into the light. With three A quantum physicist shocks the world with a startling experiment, igniting a struggle between science and theology, free will and fate, and antagonizing forces not known to exist. Eric Argus is a washout. His prodigious early work clouded his reputation and strained his sanity. But an old friend gives him another chance, an opportunity to step back into the light. With three months to produce new research, Eric replicates the paradoxical double-slit experiment to see for himself the mysterious dual nature of light and matter. A simple but unprecedented inference blooms into a staggering discovery about human consciousness and the structure of the universe. His findings are celebrated and condemned in equal measure. But no one can predict where the truth will lead. And as Eric seeks to understand the unfolding revelations, he must evade shadowy pursuers who believe he knows entirely too much already.

30 review for The Flicker Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”’After a while, quantum mechanics starts to affect your worldview.’ ‘What does this mean?’ ‘The more research I did, the less I believed.’ ‘In quantum mechanics?’ ‘No,’ I said.’In the world.’” Eric Argus is one of those brilliant minds that burn bright and then burn out. He is crippled with thoughts of depression. He usually is two-fisting it, but not in the way that most of us think of it. He has a bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand and his father’s pistol in the other. Which one he lifts to hi ”’After a while, quantum mechanics starts to affect your worldview.’ ‘What does this mean?’ ‘The more research I did, the less I believed.’ ‘In quantum mechanics?’ ‘No,’ I said.’In the world.’” Eric Argus is one of those brilliant minds that burn bright and then burn out. He is crippled with thoughts of depression. He usually is two-fisting it, but not in the way that most of us think of it. He has a bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand and his father’s pistol in the other. Which one he lifts to his face is something that has to be determined every time he wants to take a drink or eat a bullet. His father killed himself with that same pistol. His mother lost the hard edges of her mind. She is adrift in a space of her own making but is still trying to make sense of the universe she is slowly leaving. ”’Most of the universe is missing,’ she says.’Scientists know this, so they invented dark matter, but dark matter is a cheat.’ And now I see anger rising up in her, genuine outrage in those hazel eyes. … I reach for her hand across the table. ‘Dark matter is just a way to equal your equal signs,’ she says.’A hack. A fix.’ She leans forward. ‘Black magic.’ ‘Mom, I miss you.’” Even burnouts have to make a living. When a good friend offers him a position with a research company on a trial basis, he takes the extended hand with shaking fingers. They want him for his old research, but he knows he can’t go back there. It is nothing but a black tar pit for his mind to wallow in. He decides what he wants to do is replicate Richard Feynman’s paradoxical double-slit experiment. Ted Kosmatka explains this in such a way that I can almost grasp the concept. In replication, Argus finds out something, something that will shake the very foundations of science and theology. He finds the soul. Revolutionary enough, but he also discovers something else that shouldn’t even be possible. (view spoiler)[ Some people don’t have one. And some of them know it. (hide spoiler)] In the midst of the ensuing chaos, he meets a blind woman who studies sounds. ”There’s a Mozart concerto hidden in every burst of static.” He learns of The Flicker Men, people who are trying to slow things down, hold back change, keep science like his from ever being known. His research broke the world. The science is brilliant and somewhat overwhelming, but I found that if I took a few deep breaths, which at least temporarily sent more oxygen to my brain, I could start to piece together, not the math, but the implications of the math. If you read this book, you will have to stop reading from time to time just to let your brain ponder the probabilities. In many ways, what Argus discovers is more frightening than a zombie apocalypse or a rampaging virus or Donald Trump as President of the United States. I was looking for a scientific thriller, and Ted Kosmatka delivered exactly what I was looking for. The science is probable. The twists and turns kept me slightly off balance. And who doesn’t love a good shadowy organization that controls our lives more than our own government. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 4 out of 5

    Traci

    There were some very interesting ideas at play here, and the story moved along at a good clip. However . . . this had some pretty blatant plot problems. Villains who inexplicably choose to Villainously Monologue just long enough for Our Hero to escape. Repeatedly. (view spoiler)[ And . . . okay, so the Flicker Men kidnap Satvik, hold him for two weeks, then grab Eric---who was far easier to find, yet gets grabbed second, but I digress---then kill off Satvik, but not Eric, even though they want E There were some very interesting ideas at play here, and the story moved along at a good clip. However . . . this had some pretty blatant plot problems. Villains who inexplicably choose to Villainously Monologue just long enough for Our Hero to escape. Repeatedly. (view spoiler)[ And . . . okay, so the Flicker Men kidnap Satvik, hold him for two weeks, then grab Eric---who was far easier to find, yet gets grabbed second, but I digress---then kill off Satvik, but not Eric, even though they want Eric dead too, and he's totally within their power. I'm just . . . what kind of blithering idiot does any of that? Why didn't they just shoot Satvik immediately? It's not like they needed him alive to draw Eric out. It's not like they needed to draw Eric out at all, since they could've just grabbed him at his motel at literally any point in time. Why bother holding Satvik for two weeks? Why not shoot Eric immediately? Why bother shooting Satvik but leaving Eric alive, even though they obviously wanted Eric dead too? It's just . . . the stupidity, it burns. IT BURNS. Were we supposed to believe that they found the Secret Hideout by tracking Eric's phone? It wasn't explicit at all, and would require Vickers to be just as stupid as the villains (her guys searched Eric! It's not a secret that phones can be easily tracked!), so even if that was the point of leaving Eric alive . . . that doesn't exactly increase my opinion of this plotting. (hide spoiler)] And while I don't have experience in scientific research, even as a layperson, I found the idea of a research institute that required results after only four months of work (or the researcher would be fired) to be rather unrealistic. The book also had character problems. Aside from Eric Angus (our protagonist) and Satvik (a fellow (male) scientist), the characters are extremely thinly-drawn. This is especially egregious when looking at the female characters. Aside from the Dead Crazy Mom, whose only role is as flashback material to flesh out the psychology of Our Hero, we have: The Infodumper (view spoiler)[Vickers---and I swear to fucking God, that is literally her only role. Infodump, infodump, infodump. As she walks, she Infodumps. As she sits, she Infodumps. Even as she's dying---literally, gasping out her last breaths---she's cogently and coherently Infodumping Further. I nearly died laughing at the absurdity. (hide spoiler)] ; The Love Interest (view spoiler)[Curse her sudden but inevitable betrayal! She stood around in the background at the lab, kind of randomly had sex multiple times with the protagonist, and showed up at the end to Cause Strife Within Our Tragic Hero's Heart. Was I supposed to care about her? Seriously? (hide spoiler)] ; and our Sidekick (view spoiler)[ who shows up very near the end, and seems to exist only to help Eric drive and to keep him from having to talk to himself. (hide spoiler)] This could have been a really spectacular novel, because the ideas behind it are truly fascinating. But poor plotting and weak characterization, along with a failure to really delve deeply and explore those ideas, ultimately led to a rather weak book. You might be entertained by this, as long as you don't expect well-drawn characters, villains with brain cells, or plot points that always make logical sense.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Britta

    This almost felt like two books. The first half was immensely enjoyable and interesting (so much so that I was willing to ignore how thinly drawn some characters were, with the notable exception of Satvik, and how weird the style was at times with the short staccato sentences). I loved the science and the idea behind the story, and I was expecting to see the consequences of the findings in the first half unfurl. But all of a sudden I was reading a completely different book. The vague, shadowy bad This almost felt like two books. The first half was immensely enjoyable and interesting (so much so that I was willing to ignore how thinly drawn some characters were, with the notable exception of Satvik, and how weird the style was at times with the short staccato sentences). I loved the science and the idea behind the story, and I was expecting to see the consequences of the findings in the first half unfurl. But all of a sudden I was reading a completely different book. The vague, shadowy bad guys (yawn), the chase and escape scenes (that I ended up skimming over), the hero surviving seemingly impossible odds, the mystifying mumbo jumbo that was disguised as scientific talk but made no sense whatsoever. Add to that some more characters that were so flimsy, they barely registered on the page. (Pretty much all female characters in this book kind of make you wonder "Why was she there now? Is there a point to her?" Or in one case "Wait? They had sex now? I thought she was just kind of there? Did they ever talk? Well, he did mention she was beautiful, I guess".) I also have only a very vague idea what happened at the end but to be honest, by that time I just didn't care anymore. Mind you, if you like reading the type of action thriller the second half contains, you will enjoy it a lot more than me (it's just a personal thing that I often find these things boring to read), and the other reviews here a largely positive, but if you read the beginning and are hooked by the concept, don't expect any further exploration of the scientific and global impact.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    Eric Argus is a morose, suicidal alcoholic with a gun in one hand and a liquor bottle in the other, both literally and metaphorically. He is a discredited physicist with a history of instability. An old friend gives him the opportunity to get back into research. Most of the scientific explanations in this book were way over my head, but the bottom line is that Eric appears to have discovered a phenomenon with light waves that occurs only when observed by human beings. It doesn't occur if unobser Eric Argus is a morose, suicidal alcoholic with a gun in one hand and a liquor bottle in the other, both literally and metaphorically. He is a discredited physicist with a history of instability. An old friend gives him the opportunity to get back into research. Most of the scientific explanations in this book were way over my head, but the bottom line is that Eric appears to have discovered a phenomenon with light waves that occurs only when observed by human beings. It doesn't occur if unobserved, or if observed by other species. Some attribute this unique quality of human beings to consciousness while others believe it is evidence of the existence of a human soul. An evangelist wants to use Eric's device to test when consciousness begins in fetuses. There are lots of philosophical implications of this discovery that could have been explored in this book, but the author went in a different, less interesting route. At about the two thirds point the book introduced the flicker men and a mysterious sphere, after which the book ceased to make any sense at all to me. The book really went off the rails here. I don't think the author had the guts to deal with the possible ramifications of Eric's experiment in the real world, so he invented some fantasy creatures and took the book in a direction that did not interest me. I never comment on the state of ARCs in my reviews because I know they are subject to correction, but this one was in egregious shape, maybe not coincidentally also starting at the two thirds point. They seemed to stop editing the ARC that I received from that point to the end. Maybe the editor couldn't stand to read any more of the incoherent story. The first part of the book was pretty interesting, but I certainly didn't enjoy the end. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    My Grade = 60% - D- Published 2015. 328 pages. .....One of the worst books I've read in years! From the beginning of the flyleaf: "A quantum physicist shocks the world with a startling experiment, igniting a struggle between science and theology, free will and fate and antagonizing forces not known to exist." Sounds promising; it wasn't. Well the protagonist, Eric Argus is a depressed and suicidal hand shaking alcoholic who is given a new chance by an old college friend, who hires him for a major re My Grade = 60% - D- Published 2015. 328 pages. .....One of the worst books I've read in years! From the beginning of the flyleaf: "A quantum physicist shocks the world with a startling experiment, igniting a struggle between science and theology, free will and fate and antagonizing forces not known to exist." Sounds promising; it wasn't. Well the protagonist, Eric Argus is a depressed and suicidal hand shaking alcoholic who is given a new chance by an old college friend, who hires him for a major research project (of his own choice) in a major research center near Boston. That much I could understand. From there, however, the story moves to some very unrealistic scenarios (even for a work of science fiction.) Some major powers are pushing for one direction and the whole thing falls apart, followed by about a hundred page chase scene, until, in the end, Argus is back at the research center moving in the direction for which he was hired. I was not interested from almost the very beginning as Argus sat on the beach in the rain, with only one shoe, and a gun in one hand and a bottle of booze in the other. I don't know what to add from there, though I finished it just yesterday and am doing everything to forget about it in its entirety.....

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    A quantum physics thriller. the first half is easy to follow, the second becomes a bit of a mind fuck which is fine by me but I wish the final resolutions had been clearer, I really have questions about the ending, which was supposed to be clearer.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

    This book was very fast paced, honestly I think you could finish this one in one day. The premise of the book is very promising and up to certain point, the book delivers it. What i liked; the science, the premise that our main character had discovered something he shouldn't have and now he has to fight for his life against "supernatural"forces, The idea behind the plot that science is key to open our understanding of the world but that at the same time we are not yet ready to understand all of This book was very fast paced, honestly I think you could finish this one in one day. The premise of the book is very promising and up to certain point, the book delivers it. What i liked; the science, the premise that our main character had discovered something he shouldn't have and now he has to fight for his life against "supernatural"forces, The idea behind the plot that science is key to open our understanding of the world but that at the same time we are not yet ready to understand all of what we encounter. What i didn't like; The ending , it felt too pedestrian after the build up towards it , the fact that the author didn't spend a lot of time explaining the world it had created, instead dumping it all on the reader in just a couple of pages. Irregardless ; I liked this book a lot because of its plot and the mixture of science with adventure was a hit for me.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jef Powers

    I found Ted Kosmatka's stories a few years back: Prophet of Bones, The Games, and N-Word (along with a slew of other ingenious short stories tucked about in the better SF magazines). Someone whose opinion I had come to appreciate in such matters told me: "You got to read this Kasmatka guy. He writes like a boss." They were correct. When I got wind of Ted Kasmatka's latest, The Flicker Men, I finagled a way to get my hands on a pre-published copy. That's how much I wanted to read it. I had an ide I found Ted Kosmatka's stories a few years back: Prophet of Bones, The Games, and N-Word (along with a slew of other ingenious short stories tucked about in the better SF magazines). Someone whose opinion I had come to appreciate in such matters told me: "You got to read this Kasmatka guy. He writes like a boss." They were correct. When I got wind of Ted Kasmatka's latest, The Flicker Men, I finagled a way to get my hands on a pre-published copy. That's how much I wanted to read it. I had an idea it might be good. I didn't know it was going to be this good. One early review suggests The Flicker Men is akin to Stephen King and Stephen Hawking writing a book together. I cannot stress enough how this claim is not an exaggeration. Imagine King and Hawking spending a year together pounding out the best science fiction thriller in their power. Imagine too that the keen and lively spirit of another Stephen, noted evolutionary biologist, Stephen Jay Gould was in the room with them, cheerfully offering his own insights. (Steven Pinker and Steven Weinberg also spent several weekends with them to discuss mathematics, psychology, and religion but not necessarily in that order). The Flicker Men is first-rate, sit on the edge of your beach chair entertainment. Even if you sit back in your beach chair it's good--especially if you sit back. It's brilliant. It is also spun with golden threads of scientific probabilities. So well written, The Flicker Men brings all these impressive scientific notions into the purview of those who've never even read an Arthur C. Clarke novel. Even my cousin who once told me Sci-Fi was for teenagers who couldn't get a date is going to like this story. If one reads ten pages into The Flicker Men, others will have to assume their household chores until they've finish it. It's that kind of good. Remember the Double-split quantum mechanics experiment that physicist Brian Greene is always explaining on the Discovery Channel, well, Mr. Kasmatka has finally put some literary wings on the thing. As it turns out there's more to that experiment than anyone could have imagined (except for, of course, Ted Kosmatka). The only thing I disliked about this book was that it wasn't 500 pages longer. I hope Ted Kosmatka makes so much money with this novel he can buy a big old three-story Victorian mansion somewhere in the middle of some magnificent, quiet nowhere and write morning, noon, and night. Not buying and reading The Flicker Men would be like failing to see the Rolling Stones if they just happen to be playing on your own back deck on a cool starry evening.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jafar

    First off – the physics of this book is wrong. I’m not saying the author wasn’t aware of it – he had to take this liberty with physics to allow for a great plot – but just to set the record straight: in the famous double-slit experiment of quantum physics you don’t need consciousness to “collapse the waveform.” A measurement device is enough. Eric Argus, the genius and tormented physicist of the novel, replicates the double-slit experiments and finds out (you’ll win the Nobel Prize if you can sh First off – the physics of this book is wrong. I’m not saying the author wasn’t aware of it – he had to take this liberty with physics to allow for a great plot – but just to set the record straight: in the famous double-slit experiment of quantum physics you don’t need consciousness to “collapse the waveform.” A measurement device is enough. Eric Argus, the genius and tormented physicist of the novel, replicates the double-slit experiments and finds out (you’ll win the Nobel Prize if you can show this) that the waveform doesn’t collapse unless a human reads the measurement result. Even if you leave the measurement device on but don’t look at the result, you see the interference pattern, not the double-line. This is wrong, but assuming it’s right, it leads to an interesting question. Who should look at the result to collapse the waveform? What if an animal looks at it instead of a human? A conservative Christian politician wants to use this experiment to prove that fetuses can collapse the waveform, therefore they’re endowed with a soul. They run the experiment and it turns out that…. I won’t spoil it for you. The first half of the book is very captivating. Kosmatka had a great idea for a novel that could explore consciousness and free will and quantum physics, but in the end he didn’t know where to take his idea. The second half of the novel descends into a really weird and fantastical plot involving a mysterious cabal bent on destroying civilization.

  10. 4 out of 5

    FanFiAddict

    Every once in a while, you come across a novel that makes your brain want to explode. The Flicker Men is one of those novels. There is so a lot of sciencing going on, but the story is so much deeper than quantum physics and theories with life altering outcomes. But, I will say, I did have to put the book down a few times in order to perform some research of my own ( not saying you have to do that, but I always like to learn about what I'm reading. ) Ted has written a well paced story here. Yes, Every once in a while, you come across a novel that makes your brain want to explode. The Flicker Men is one of those novels. There is so a lot of sciencing going on, but the story is so much deeper than quantum physics and theories with life altering outcomes. But, I will say, I did have to put the book down a few times in order to perform some research of my own ( not saying you have to do that, but I always like to learn about what I'm reading. ) Ted has written a well paced story here. Yes, most of the science will probably be over your head, but it does not detract from the plot and Kosmatka does a great job explaining what the meatheads don't understand. The book is full of suspense and action and the the characters are vividly described. There are plenty of plot twists and head scratchers to keep even the minimally science-y people intrigued, but this is definitely a story you have never seen before and is well worth your time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jacqie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The Flicker Men starts with a great premise. A physicist, somewhat wrecked by his past research (which has made him doubt the nature of reality) recreates an experiment which shows that light changes from wave to particle depending on how it is observed. This is interesting enough in itself, but then he think about testing what exactly constitutes an observer. Do animals have the self-awareness to count? I don't want I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The Flicker Men starts with a great premise. A physicist, somewhat wrecked by his past research (which has made him doubt the nature of reality) recreates an experiment which shows that light changes from wave to particle depending on how it is observed. This is interesting enough in itself, but then he think about testing what exactly constitutes an observer. Do animals have the self-awareness to count? I don't want to say much more about this part of the plot, but it gave me some chills and made me think about just how alone we could be in our self-awareness. It also made me wonder if anything like this idea has actually been tested. The science was interesting and plausible. It's actually one of the more scientific science fiction books I've read recently, and I quite enjoyed that aspect. My problems with the book didn't begin until more than half-way through. Suspicious figures are watching, people have gone missing, and sinister organizations are taking an interest in the research. Great! We can have a thriller along with our science fiction. But then my pet peeves came cropping up. Our hero gets strung along for almost 50 pages with mysterious people giving him cryptic warnings and telling him that he's got to wait for the right person to come along to the right place to tell him the thing he's got to know, even though everyone involved seems to also know this mysterious thing. Once the person who can give him the information comes along, everything is still very vague. By this point, it's pretty obvious that some supernatural elements are in play, but our hero's allies are maddeningly vague. In answer to the question: "Who are these people?" we get the answer "they go by many names... but those who have seen them in action call them the flicker men." It has taken 200 pages of this 300 page book for the title to even be referenced. And that's all the detail we get! At this point I quit in disgust. The book began with a fascinating scientific inquiry and an original take on physics that combined the spiritual with the scientific, but then it got all mystical and went right off the rails. I would rather have stuck with the science- frankly, it was scarier.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ben Bookworm

    This might come as a shock to you,,, but I'm not a Quantum phyicist!! What I know about causality and wave particles could be written on a postage stamp... But I enjoyed this scientific thriller! Eric Angus is a alcoholic former scientist who is given a second chance at a research laboratory to redeem himself by throwing himself into a wave particle experiment. However as he sobers up and tests more, he discovers a way to test if animals have souls, and this leads to the discovery that not all hu This might come as a shock to you,,, but I'm not a Quantum phyicist!! What I know about causality and wave particles could be written on a postage stamp... But I enjoyed this scientific thriller! Eric Angus is a alcoholic former scientist who is given a second chance at a research laboratory to redeem himself by throwing himself into a wave particle experiment. However as he sobers up and tests more, he discovers a way to test if animals have souls, and this leads to the discovery that not all humans have souls! Things then take a sinister turn as supernatural forces begin to hunt Eric, determined his findings go no further...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Such an exciting and compelling SF thriller! But while I'd award the first half five stars, I'd have to give the second three stars. My enjoyment in the novel never floundered but I would have appreciated it even more if the science hadn't flown completely over my head. I understood the gist of it - and loved the premise - but during the second half there were sections when I didn't have a clue what was going on. Quantum physics, especially when it goes awry, isn't the easiest of subjects for a Such an exciting and compelling SF thriller! But while I'd award the first half five stars, I'd have to give the second three stars. My enjoyment in the novel never floundered but I would have appreciated it even more if the science hadn't flown completely over my head. I understood the gist of it - and loved the premise - but during the second half there were sections when I didn't have a clue what was going on. Quantum physics, especially when it goes awry, isn't the easiest of subjects for a lay reader. Also, there were some fascinating leads in the first half which weren't chased during the second, turning it into a different kind of novel altogether. Nevertheless, very hard to put down.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    Kosmatka has a knack for writing intense thrillers that skirt the edge of hard science while still remaining accessible to layman. In his new book, The Flicker Men, he is even more successful than in his book The Games. It's a fast read full of unpredictable twists and turns. Angus is a broken man to start, and when he finds himself through a new quantum physics experiments, he begins to lose his fellow researchers and his understanding of reality. It comes down to a complex question: what is the Kosmatka has a knack for writing intense thrillers that skirt the edge of hard science while still remaining accessible to layman. In his new book, The Flicker Men, he is even more successful than in his book The Games. It's a fast read full of unpredictable twists and turns. Angus is a broken man to start, and when he finds himself through a new quantum physics experiments, he begins to lose his fellow researchers and his understanding of reality. It comes down to a complex question: what is the meaning of a soul within a body? When Angus's work determines humans have souls and animals do not, it initially sets the stage for a religious dilemma. THAT took me totally off guard--one of those twists that makes perfect sense in hindsight but that I didn't see coming at all. From there, the novel drops deeper into science fiction and the thriller pace intensifies. The ending was remarkably satisfying (which was an issue I had with The Games). I can't help but compare this to last year's great science fiction novel, The Three-Body Problem, as both deal with issues of science and reality. I found Kosmatka's work more accessible, which is saying something, as my past efforts to parse quantum physics have literally given me migraines. I may not have understood everything, but what I knew enabled me to grasp the stakes of the story and move along. It made for a fantastic read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    Eric Argus, an accomplished scientist now an alcoholic on the verge of suicide, receives a second chance at resurrecting his career in the form of four months of probationary employment at Hansen Research. Any line of investigation is acceptable as long as the researcher’s project has scientific merit; after several weeks of indecision, Eric stumbles across an electron gun and a detector and decides to recreate Feynman’s double slit wave-particle experiment. He wants to see what Feynman saw, to Eric Argus, an accomplished scientist now an alcoholic on the verge of suicide, receives a second chance at resurrecting his career in the form of four months of probationary employment at Hansen Research. Any line of investigation is acceptable as long as the researcher’s project has scientific merit; after several weeks of indecision, Eric stumbles across an electron gun and a detector and decides to recreate Feynman’s double slit wave-particle experiment. He wants to see what Feynman saw, to experience for himself the dual nature of light and matter. When he discovers that only human beings can collapse the wave function in the experiment, things rapidly escalate into this being hailed as “proof” of the existence of the human soul. But an accidental discovery that not all humans can collapse the wave function turns Eric’s world upside down, putting him in dire jeopardy as sinister forces wield their power, seeking to destroy his friends, his work, and his life. Brilliant writing makes this riveting science fiction thriller impossible to put down. Believable characters and situations keep the pages turning and the suspenseful plot has more than enough science to satisfy. Filled with unexpected twists and turns, tension mounts as the story races its way to an ending that will leave readers deliberating the tantalizing possibilities. Highly recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    ashley c

    The Flicker Men is a solid, fast-paced crowd-pleaser to the likes of Dark Matter, The Fold, and Superposition. I loved the idea of an alternate world where quantum physics can be used to prove consciousness in a being. Eric and his colleagues quickly found themselves going down a slippery slope as they dug deeper into their experiment - that the only living beings capable of collapsing the quantum experience as an observer, suggesting that they are conscious, are humans. Things start to take a we The Flicker Men is a solid, fast-paced crowd-pleaser to the likes of Dark Matter, The Fold, and Superposition. I loved the idea of an alternate world where quantum physics can be used to prove consciousness in a being. Eric and his colleagues quickly found themselves going down a slippery slope as they dug deeper into their experiment - that the only living beings capable of collapsing the quantum experience as an observer, suggesting that they are conscious, are humans. Things start to take a weird turn when the story inevitably leaks out to the public, and a preacher insist on conducting his own experiments with unborn fetuses, wanting to prove that they are also conscious, or in his words, that they have a soul. I gasped when (view spoiler)[they figured out that only some humans are observers. (hide spoiler)] Now that was delicious! Kosmatka's fever-fueled fantasy was undoubtedly engaging, but I rather it didn't take on a paranormal, one-dimensional, hero-vs-villian, my-wife-and-the-kids kind of story. Still, I enjoyed it enough to give it 4 stars.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    A quantum physicist is given a second chance at brilliance, but it just might cost him his life, in this whip-fast sci-fi thriller! Eric Argus has washed out personally and professionally when an old friend gives him a job in a research lab. But when Eric discovers old equipment that was used to search for the human soul and decides to test it for himself, he opens a can of worms that the world may not be ready for. Now he and his colleagues are in a whole lot of danger, and unless Eric can answ A quantum physicist is given a second chance at brilliance, but it just might cost him his life, in this whip-fast sci-fi thriller! Eric Argus has washed out personally and professionally when an old friend gives him a job in a research lab. But when Eric discovers old equipment that was used to search for the human soul and decides to test it for himself, he opens a can of worms that the world may not be ready for. Now he and his colleagues are in a whole lot of danger, and unless Eric can answer the great mysteries brought about by the experiment's implications, it could be the end for everyone. I love a great sci-fi thriller, and this one is top notch! Tune in to our weekly new books podcast, All The Books: http://bookriot.com/category/all-the-...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chip

    WTF did I just read? I've seen elsewhere commentary that this book is a mashup of Stephen King and Stephen Hawking, which sounds about right. (And, I'll independently add that those two names only differ by the addition of three letters, "haw", to one name ... fittingly strange.) Maybe throw in a little Neal Stephenson. STEPHENson. Oh my god. I enjoyed it, appreciated the originality of the concepts, thought the writing was better than adequate, found the end less than fully conclusionary, and af WTF did I just read? I've seen elsewhere commentary that this book is a mashup of Stephen King and Stephen Hawking, which sounds about right. (And, I'll independently add that those two names only differ by the addition of three letters, "haw", to one name ... fittingly strange.) Maybe throw in a little Neal Stephenson. STEPHENson. Oh my god. I enjoyed it, appreciated the originality of the concepts, thought the writing was better than adequate, found the end less than fully conclusionary, and afterwards thought (in addition to WTF did I just read) ok do I want to read another book by this author - yes or no. Unless there's a third option .... maybe.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Great story, with a hard science edge that I really enjoyed.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Johnny

    Sometimes, “hard” science fiction doesn’t seem worth the effort to me. Sometimes, it seems like the author is using exposition to explain intricate systems to the reader without being concerned about the pacing of the plot. I don’t like thrillers such as Tom Clancy’s post-Patriot Games in which it seems to me that there is more attention paid to specification sheets than to human insights. Yet, The Flicker Men caught my attention for multiple reasons and I am glad it did. First, I am fascinated b Sometimes, “hard” science fiction doesn’t seem worth the effort to me. Sometimes, it seems like the author is using exposition to explain intricate systems to the reader without being concerned about the pacing of the plot. I don’t like thrillers such as Tom Clancy’s post-Patriot Games in which it seems to me that there is more attention paid to specification sheets than to human insights. Yet, The Flicker Men caught my attention for multiple reasons and I am glad it did. First, I am fascinated by the implications of quantum theory and the plot of The Flicker Men turns on this idea. Second, I was using my understanding of quantum theory to hypothesize far-future inventions in my Traveller role-playing game and, my notes described a “flickering man” before I ever discovered this novel (We don’t treat them exactly the same, but it’s an interesting coincidence.). Third, the protagonist’s struggle has, for me and at least one of the characters in the novel, a theological debate between determinism and “free will.” That’s something I feel strongly about—especially regarding the latter which I hold true. Fourth, the protagonist’s experience unfolds a lot like one of the noir thrillers from Hard Case Crime. Except for the science, I would almost think it comparable to a Quarry novel by Max Allen Collins or one of Westlake’s darker novels. In short, The Flicker Men grabbed me and wouldn’t let me loose—even though my schedule precluded me from reading it straight through (I would have if I could have.). A lot of the elements in the story build from the Feynman-slit (or Young-slit) experiment, using a thermionic gun to shoot a photon stream through at two slits. The result on a monitor would be a wave-form interrupted such that an interference pattern of overlapping waves appears (p. 38). Yet, if one puts a detector at the two slits, one measures two distinct streams of phosphorescent particles. There is no interference when measuring like this (p. 39). From one reading, there is. In the real world, and before the fictional events in this novel, Feynman said of this experiment, “It has in it the heart of quantum mechanics. In truth, it contains only a mystery.” (quoted on p. 44) Now, things become more interesting when the protagonist, Eric Argus, makes a breakthrough in his experiment. The resulting research paper garners the interest of a prominent religious evangelist. The evangelist believes he can use the research as a way to prove the existence of the human soul. While the results appear to confirm said existence, the results also reveal a frightening phenomenon. It is the latter revelation that puts Argus in a precarious position with those who are angry that the latter results were revealed. The evangelist becomes disillusioned: “Can anything in this world be truly relied upon? Even atoms are an evanescent haze—emptiness stacked upon emptiness which we have somehow willed ourselves to believe in.” (p. 126) As Argus interrogates him further and points out that his discouragement is costing his reputation, the evangelist responds, “Even fame, it seems, follows the rules of quantum mechanics. The eye of the public changes what it observes.” (p. 127) Eventually, Argus discovers that there are those afraid of the world’s eberaxi, later defined as “errant axis” on p. 240. As quantum mechanics recognizes both the reality of the wave and the particles, Argus discovers an incongruity in the universe. “Free will in a determinant universe. Because the math was dead serious. It was only in us that it failed. The mystery wasn’t those who couldn’t collapse the waves [by their observations of Argus’ experiment]. The mystery was those who could [collapse the waves via observation.]” To make a long story short, Argus has not just grasped, but proved the theoretical physics of “Gabriel’s horn” (aka “Torricelli’s trumpet”), the idea of a Matryoshka (aka Russian dolls) universe (p. 244). Eventually, Argus has to put the pieces together of why some can conceive of this and others cannot. And, it is a most dangerous game. Without a spoiler, let me just say that Ted Kosmatka foreshadows the conclusion perfectly. But I won’t tell you why it’s perfect, just that it’s brilliant. Indeed, I felt like The Flicker Men was brilliant through and through. I think it rivals my favorite hard science-fiction in the late James P. Hogan’s work.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carl Alves

    There wasn’t a whole lot that I liked about The Flicker Men. It’s the story of a washed up, burned out scientist named Eric Argus, who finds himself at a Research Center where he is performing a double slit experiment, trying to learn about the nature of light and matter. His experiments get him embroiled in controversy and part of a larger conflict with the many folds of the multi-verse in a poorly explained, convoluted story line. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot going wrong with this nov There wasn’t a whole lot that I liked about The Flicker Men. It’s the story of a washed up, burned out scientist named Eric Argus, who finds himself at a Research Center where he is performing a double slit experiment, trying to learn about the nature of light and matter. His experiments get him embroiled in controversy and part of a larger conflict with the many folds of the multi-verse in a poorly explained, convoluted story line. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot going wrong with this novel. First, the writing is subpar. It’s chocked full of these short little sentences that usually aren’t more than a few words. This can be used for emphasis, but the author leaned on it like a crutch to the point where I kept on noticing it, taking me away from the story. Second, the author does a poor job of explaining things. I didn’t get the significance of the double slit experiment and I certainly didn’t get why it was so important that it got the Flicker Men—the guardians and masters of the universe and sowers of chaos and stoppers of progress—would be so interested in it. The characterization of this novel was poor. Eric Argus wasn’t especially likeable. The bad guy characters didn’t make much sense. The group that was countering the Flicker Men made even less sense, and it was never clearly defined what their purpose was. I didn’t get the ending of the novel and the importance of the sphere. I would suggest skipping this novel. Carl Alves - author of The Invocation

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Alkire

    Not a particularly good novel. The idea was interesting, though it’s been better explored in other novels. The pace is somewhat slow…every time something happens, there’s an annoying introspective flashback and it really slows the story. The story isn’t much to tell and the writing seemed bland and uninspired…the visual image I have of this book is a dark gray landscape where noting really happens. Oh sure, plenty actually happens, it just seems dull and lifeless or all in the character’s head. Not a particularly good novel. The idea was interesting, though it’s been better explored in other novels. The pace is somewhat slow…every time something happens, there’s an annoying introspective flashback and it really slows the story. The story isn’t much to tell and the writing seemed bland and uninspired…the visual image I have of this book is a dark gray landscape where noting really happens. Oh sure, plenty actually happens, it just seems dull and lifeless or all in the character’s head. The novel is confusing that way. I couldn’t bring myself to actually care about the characters either, again, a veneer of gray varnish and dullness. In short, I found myself disappointed with this one…it started interesting and just became a gray mass to muddle through to the end. I give this one a 2. The idea was interesting if not really explained and the rest of the novel from action to characters to writing just seemed dull and gray and not really worth reading time by the end.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I started reading this and could not put it down--a near-future science fiction thriller dealing with some of the weird implications of quantum theory in a really off-beat way, it kept luring me back every time I tried to get anything else done that day. I found the ending a little frustrating--it fit the story, but at the same time felt a bit too deus ex machina--but overall it's a fine, fast-paced tale, and I'll definitely look for more work by this author.

  24. 4 out of 5

    David Staniforth

    4.5 stars In the vein of Dark Matter, but not quite as engaging.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Banner

    The premise of this book is so interesting and full of potential to have been an amazing story. What has been delivered is an average and enjoyable read, with great character development. It starts out with a tragic and broken scientist that struggles with the reality around him (both in and out of the lab). He comes from a family of scientist and their lives didn't seem to turn out so well either. But the science is what drives him. We get a good look at all of the really cool, mind binding asp The premise of this book is so interesting and full of potential to have been an amazing story. What has been delivered is an average and enjoyable read, with great character development. It starts out with a tragic and broken scientist that struggles with the reality around him (both in and out of the lab). He comes from a family of scientist and their lives didn't seem to turn out so well either. But the science is what drives him. We get a good look at all of the really cool, mind binding aspects of quantum physics, without getting bogged down in the technical stuff (which is great since I don't understand any of it anyway). Then in a last change experiment something unexpected happens. The implications are not immediately foreseen, but when they come this is where the book takes on an action/thriller aspect that I would not have preferred. It's not a bad story I was just expecting a different more thought provoking direction. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys quantum physics mixed with their science fiction.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sean Randall

    This was scientifically spooky, if that works to describe it with any degree of accuracy. I kept catching myself, knowing of course the validity of the double slit experiment. It's a haunting powerhouse of a novel with a great deal of Humanity to absorb, and one I'll be coming back to in the future as I think there's much offered that I am sure I didn't take in first time around.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    A thriller that starts off better than it ends. The first half I couldn't wait to learn more, but during the second half I was a bit let down by the conclusion. I never took a physics glass but learning more about the double slit experiment was super interesting and it made me want to learn more about it in the non-fiction universe which is why I give it 4 stars. You'll likely enjoy it, but temper your expectations.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jaka Tomc

    I just couldn't stop reading this book. Quantum physics lover or not, it makes you think about life.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    People like tests that give a yes/no result. If, to give an example not in this book, you throw someone in water, they either sink or they float. A clear result that can’t be argued with. You can argue that it doesn’t prove they’re a witch, but who’s going to listen? So when a scientist comes up with a test that humans pass and animals fail, it’s inevitable that someone passes it off as a soul test. It would all be harmless fun, but someone’s going to great lengths to put a stop to it, and our no People like tests that give a yes/no result. If, to give an example not in this book, you throw someone in water, they either sink or they float. A clear result that can’t be argued with. You can argue that it doesn’t prove they’re a witch, but who’s going to listen? So when a scientist comes up with a test that humans pass and animals fail, it’s inevitable that someone passes it off as a soul test. It would all be harmless fun, but someone’s going to great lengths to put a stop to it, and our no hoper hero needs to find out why to survive. Parental warnings: a little bit of sex, bloody violence, misrepresented science, title page can be made rude with just a dab of whiteout.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Avanders

    Review based on ARC (advanced readers' copy received for free in exchange for an honest review) My "review" A very scienc'y sci-fi, a quite thrilling thriller. The book is an easy "enough" read - although the science is pretty theoretical and seemingly advanced science, Kosmatka has made it largely accessible to the interested sci-fi reader. Although there were a couple moments where I found I really didn't know what was happening, science-wise, my confusion was always resolved, generally sooner r Review based on ARC (advanced readers' copy received for free in exchange for an honest review) My "review" A very scienc'y sci-fi, a quite thrilling thriller. The book is an easy "enough" read - although the science is pretty theoretical and seemingly advanced science, Kosmatka has made it largely accessible to the interested sci-fi reader. Although there were a couple moments where I found I really didn't know what was happening, science-wise, my confusion was always resolved, generally sooner rather than later. The book is also a well-paced thriller, with chases, fights, and danger of all varieties. This book kept me constantly attempting to discern who were the "good guys" and who were the "bad guys"... and who fell in between, and I never knew what was going to happen next and how it would play out -- this thriller literally made me lose sleep, reading into the wee-hours. I love Kosmatka's originality and I particularly enjoyed the set-up of the story. I loved the theory - discerning whether human souls exist, scientifically - and I enjoyed many of the characters (a favorite being his side-kick, Satvik). I didn't love as much the ultimate resolution and/or explanation, but it didn't really matter since it was such a fast, engaging read. Recommended to lovers of sci-fi! Those looking for an intellectual sci-fi thriller will be pleased with The Flicker Men! My "synopsis" (for those interested) Eric Argus is a brilliant scientist with a dark past. The death of his father and the subsequent deterioration of his mother have left Eric with a life long struggle with depression and alcoholism. The story starts with a disgraced and unemployed Eric, whose old buddy from college is giving him a lifeline - a last chance to get his life together - by offering him employment with his science lab. Eric starts working at this lab -- a sort of science "think tank" where brilliant scientists gather to do whatever their brilliant minds want to do with access to whatever resources they could possibly need. Eric is on probation with the company, as all new scientists are, and if he manages to show the company that he has promise (will earn them a reputation or money), he can become a permanent employee. Of course, the problem is that Eric has no motivation, no concern, no intention of actually *doing* anything with his last chance (though he does seem to be somewhat grateful to be there). Instead, he wastes his time chatting with his new lab-friends and drinking (not on the job, but he may as well). Nevertheless, eventually, Eric decides he wants to re-do the double-slit experiment, just to "see it for himself." A clear waste of resources and discouraged by his boss/old college friend, but because he's given the latitude anyway, he does it. The double-slit experiment is a quantum mechanics experiment that essentially shows what should be impossible to see -- that our awareness of something has an impact on that something existing at all. Very cool science. Eric successfully reproduces the experiment and then, with the help of some of his lab friends, decides to test the same experiment on animals. Thus, they discover that the experiment only "works" on humans -- i.e., that humans are the only beings with an "awareness" sufficient to impact the experiment, or, as many begin to describe it, humans are the only beings with a soul. In other words -- Eric has just inadvertently proved the existence of a soul. Of course, religion becomes involved, with high-profile figures attempting to prove or disprove ideas that would further their own agenda. As the experiment becomes public knowledge, Eric and the lab begin to get death threats from all types of people, and warnings are received of the "Flicker Men" with no other explanation. Suddenly, Eric finds himself in the middle of an epic, long-standing struggle, with the fate of the entire planet in his hands as he fights to understand who or what the Flicker Men are, who or what the Fated are, and what role he has to play in everything.

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