The Phantom Scientist by Robin Cousin, translated by Edward Gauvin
(The MIT Press, 2023)
Reviewed by Steven French
Strikingly illustrated and thoughtfully written, this is a story about an isolated but lavishly funded institute for the study of complex and dynamic systems. It begins with the new Director, Sorokin, greeted at the gates by a balaclava wearing security agent with a rifle strapped across their back. As it turns out, this is the fourth iteration of the institute and as the previous Director explains via video, like the dynamic systems under study, it too tends towards chaos and increasing entropy. That’s why a new resident is selected every three months in order to ‘rebalance’ the system, each one a researcher in some field covered by systems theory, until all twenty-four labs are occupied. By that point their research is expected to yield results, despite the inevitable spread of disorder.
Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.