A first novel.
Carter Scholz has made a difficult subject highly relevant and entertaining with Radiance, his debut novel investigating the darkness at the heart of the nuclear defense industry. With the eye of an insider, Scholz focuses this daring work on a California nuclear testing lab in the mid-1990s and declassifies the motivations and manipulations of its senior planners. The novel follows Philip Quine, a reluctant weapons research scientist whose whistle-blowing report on lab data falsification leads to his promotion as interim lab director. As Quine gradually discovers the defense industry's deep-seated deceptions and self-sustaining tactics, the novel turns its attention to human nature and the unspoken drives and fears that propel us to contention.
An excellent novel on all counts, Radiance succeeds most notably due to Scholz's extensive research and use of detail. He provides plenty of complex scientific information, and in his hands it's accessible and fascinating. A gallery of well-developed characters helps dramatize the novel's revelations and illuminate the varying backgrounds and beliefs of those influencing defense policy. A part-time composer of electronic music, Scholz has an ear for dialogue and sound, which is made evident by his musical prose and use of realistic punctuation. Intricate and dark, Radiance is saturated with fragmented transmissions, signs, and conversations that may well resemble puzzle pieces. Where these puzzle pieces intersect we see an intertwining of fates and a bleak future. On the other hand, all that information could just be minutiae distracting us from the obvious and unavoidable. Either way, it's one more reason to investigate Radiance.
Source: Ross Doll, Amazon.com.