Welcome to my post! I’m continuing my streak and unofficial goal of writing one book review a month by bringing you one of my February reads. Between this and my other review of This Thing Between Us, you might see a slight theme of my enjoying unique and crazy books, but I’ll save that for my review!
Love and Other Thought Experiments
Rachel and Eliza are planning their future together. One night in bed, Rachel wakes up terrified and tells Eliza that an ant has crawled into her eye and is stuck there. Rachel is certain; Eliza, a scientist, is sceptical. Suddenly their entire relationship is called into question.
Inspired by some of the best-known thought experiments in philosophy, particularly philosophy of mind, Love and Other Thought Experiments is a story of love lost and found across the universe.
The synopsis doesn’t give much away but is certainly intriguing. I would say that Eliza and Rachel’s story as described in the synopsis is more the starting point for this book than the summary. Essentially, we start off with this contained story of Rachel, Eliza and an ant, then start to explore further perspectives in short stories that end up connecting together. On top of that, each chapter has a different philosophical focus that connects to the story. It might sound a little confusing, but everything flowed together beautifully for me. I definitely benefitted from going in knowing little though – this book was actually a present for my birthday that I’d completely forgot I had on my TBR, but it ended up being a new favourite!
My favourite part of Love and Other Thought Experiments was seeing each perspective connect to the story and change the narrative. I wasn’t sure about the short stories after reading the second chapter, but I trusted the process and fell in love with how the story developed. This is such a big project, with each part looking dramatically different, which means that there will be something that appeals to everyone, but the overall experience may have a nicher audience, especially as it evolves into more of a sci-fi element by the end. I can tell you now that there’s a mixture of love, grief, family, space, parallel worlds, artificial intelligence and philosophy, encompassing so many parts of reality and life, and what could be part of it too.
I also loved how much this had to say about the human experience. There was in particular one very remarkable perspective that brilliantly explored what it means to be human (ironic considering the narrator), leaving me with conflicting feelings of importance and complete insignificance, of grief and joy about being human and alive. Here’s a small extract, but I wish I could share the entire page:
“Your worldview is selfish beyond your own survival, beyond your code. The universe revolves around you. One day you stand alone on a mountain or in a crater, and in that glimpse at the majesty of the sea or the eternity of the stars, in that moment where the telescope reverses, your sense of your unique self collapses and you carry the knowledge with you and you try never to forget.
Have you remembered?”
The philosophical aspect connects to these comments on humanity, each chapter having its own focus. The theories or experiments are mostly well-known, such as The Ship of Theseus and The Prisoner’s Dilemma. However, even if you haven’t heard of any of them, they’re fairly easy to understand by the summaries and it’s definitely not essential to have a deep knowledge of them. These concepts are subtly explored throughout the chapter, pushing you to think about them without being overwhelming. It was really interesting to have that added dimension to the story, and the structure and plot as a whole is so ambitious but executed perfectly for me.
As I said, Love and Other Thought Experiments might not be the book for everyone, but it’s a delightful and profound one that had me questioning my life and the universe. With an unconventional structure, unique perspectives and impressive plot, it will be a story that sticks with me for a long time.
Thanks for reading! Have you read Love and Other Thought Experiments or anything similar? Do you think it’s something you would like?