Synchronized clocks and dream quests: this week’s books (#SFWApro)

I read a good deal more, but I’m saving it for in-depth posts

EINSTEIN’S CLOCKS, POINCARE´S MAPS: Empires of Time by Peter Galison attempts to place Einstein in a scientific and technical world where the relationship between a clock in a railway station and a pocket watch on a train was anything but abstract. As Galison details, questions of how to coordinate clocks consumed a lot of people in the late 19th century, the problem being not only mechanical but also political as someone had to decide what “standard” time the clocks would default to (one American proposal for US clocks would have dumped local time and set all time zones to one central clock). Galison also looks at why the French physicist/mathematician/engineer Poincaré came close to Einstein’s relativity breakthrough and stopped short, concluding that Poincaré was too tied to the practical to be comfortable with stripping away everything to relativity. Interesting but dry, and I’m not sure Poincaré adds anything to the narrative.

THE SIXTH GUN: Ghost Dance by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt has Becky, Drake and their crew fleeing the Widow Hume with their accursed world-shaping weapons. But Becky tapping the Sixth Gun’s powers in previous stories is killing her spirit so to save it some convenient Native American shamans send her on a vision quest for answers. While I’m a fan of the series, this was a disappointing volume: comics have done this sort of pretentious, surreal spirit journey to death and the creators didn’t bring anything new to the table. The Native American magic also feels stereotypical, though maybe if I’d caught the previous volume it would have worked better.

Oh, the clock from the Metropolitan Museum of Art has nothing to do with the books but it’s so beautiful, and it fit the topic of the first book, so … Photo is by me.

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