Review: Duchamp Versus Einstein by Christopher Hinz & Etan Ilfeld

43660045This is a novelette… or rather… a novella? It’s short, is what I’m saying here. It is only 100 pages long. It is a piece of short fiction involving 1 artist, 1 scientist, and 2 chess enthusiasts… and a strange woman.

It sounded quite interesting, so when asked if I’d like to give it a read I gladly accepted.

So thanks to the authors, as well as Angry Robot for the review copy.

Inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s archived letters, Duchamp versus Einstein is a science fiction novelette spanning some of the most monumental events of the 20th century, and bringing together two of the most transformative figures of the era in art and science for a surreal chess match that could reshape history.

The bipedals had developed their own unique means for assuring high casualty rates. By banding together in large groups, called “nations”, and fighting brutal wars with others in the name of freedom, for the acquisition of resources or for the placation or worship of beloved deities, they existed in a state of near-constant strife.

This was an often odd story. It was inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s letters, and does involve Duchamp playing a chess game with Einstein, though, the way they come together is quite a story. More than the game itself, in my opinion.

This one bounces through time, sometimes forward and sometimes back, and it takes place from the point of view of both Duchamp and Einstein as well as a third party, the woman who, shall we say, who brings them together to play the game. Her presence is the strangest part, and seeing some of the story from her point of view.

As I said, it is oftentimes odd, with the occasional random glowing infant present, among other things. Weird as hell sometimes, yes, but not confusing really. It’s actually fairly straightforward. It was a quick read, and it was interesting. I never got bored with it, but I can’t say it’s in the favorites pile. I liked it alright, but didn’t love it. It didn’t blow my mind, but it was certainly an entertaining 100 pages for the most part, and it was rather thought-provoking at times. Sure, there were parts that I could really have done without, but c’est la vie.

I’d say definitely give it a try if you are a fan of either Duchamp or Einstein’s work, or if you are into books that look at history through the eye of the future. If you liked El-Mohtar and Gladstone’s This is How You Lose the Time War, you may also like this, because I felt that it had a somewhat similar vibe at times. 3/5 stars!~

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