The circumference of the world

A mathematician, a rare book dealer, and a gangster search for a rare science fiction paperback named Lode Stars. They each have their reasons (some bordering on obsession) and their searches will cause their paths to cross, alter their destinies, and, quite possibly, transform our understanding of reality.  

In his latest novel, award winning writer Lavie Tidhar takes readers on a wild, mind-bending adventure that is an exercise in extremes. It is deeply personal and ponders the existential question, “Why are we (humanity) here?” It is simultaneously contemporary and nostalgic. And it explores both the bounds of the rational and mathematical while also diving headfirst into the fever dream of madness and obsession.

Tidhar has written an homage to the golden age of science fiction, the authors who provided the genesis of the genre, and the fans who turned their love of the literature into a sub-culture. He writes fondly of the initial, burgeoning gatherings of fans and writers that, over the decades, developed into gatherings like San Diego’s Comic-Con. He has also chosen to tackle the type of story that those classic writers, like Asimov, Heinlein, and Pohl, might have submitted to John W. Campbell to be serialized in one of his pulp magazines.

The plot is, at times, a bit murky and difficult to follow. But it is elevated by Tidhar’s prose, his fascinatingly drawn characters, and his deftness at capturing not only what it must have been like to be part of the community of writers working on and for the pulps, but also mimicking them when he includes sections from Lode Stars in the text.

In The Circumference of the World, Tidhar weaves rational thought, a bit of fanaticism, madness and mysticism into a tapestry that will fascinate contemporary readers and would have made the writers who came before him proud.