I finished reading Stephane Audeguy’s The theory of clouds. There is quite a bit of science and scientific description of material relating to meteorology in the book; here is an example about the formation of clouds (p. 137):
Actually, the formation of clouds depends upon a series of overlapping factors–the atmosphere, for example. How much water the ambient air can hold depends on the temperature: At zero degree Celsius, the air can hold barely five grams of water per cubic meter: at twenty degrees Celsius it can become supersaturated and easily contain seventeen grams of water per cubic meter. Nonetheless a significant amount of water in the air isn’t reason enough for a rain cloud to form. Tiny particles have to be present, and they can be of varying origins and natures: marine salt, volcanic ash, the gas produced by cars and planes, a grain of desert sand vaulted high into the air be a fierce wind. These particles ally themselves with tiny electrified particles that roam the terrestrial atmosphere. Their union creates the basis for condensation. Then and only then is rain possible.
The paragraph that follows this one which explains the process of raining is very interesting too. In addition, there are also some interesting observations about the process of doing science itself, like this one, for example (p. 259):
A scientist had contributed decisively to making his own research seem aberrant by simultaneously showing how to transcend it.
It is sections of this sort which are seamlessly blended into the narrative along with sentences like this one about thoughts (p. 17),
Thoughts were like harlots: One might frequent such creatures from necessity but should do so furtively and wordlessly.
and, this one about profane activities and poetry reading (p. 37),
He never participated in any profane activities–and didn’t read poetry.
which made reading the novel a pleasure (not to mention the “deeply erotic” nature of the book–as the blurb helpfully notes).
I picked up The theory of clouds on Tyler Cowen’s recommendation, and I am glad to report that the book lives up to the expectations.
Literary Saloon gave it a B+ too; however, as the Literary Saloon review notes, I too thought that all parts of the story does not fit together well. In addition, I also noticed a couple of mistakes/rough edges: The age of Kumo on p. 71, for example, should have been more than 60 and not 70 as stated; and, around p.30, the transition from what Viriginie learns about Kumo’s personal life to what the author lets us know is not made in a smooth manner. But these are minor quibbles.
Bottom line: a short, and entertaining read. Take a look!
PS: Some descriptions of the precipitation and weather forecasting modelling in the book reminded me of Swades and the (quite extraordinary) Looking Around lecture of Prof. J Srinivasan on El Nino and its relation to Indian monsoon rains.