Paperback review: The Technologists, By Matthew Pearl

Big, and clever, but there's a baffling amount of info

Matthew Pearl and his research assistant, Gabriella Gage, certainly cannot be faulted on their historical work for this vast novel about four scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology striving to save 1868 Boston from a series of unexplained explosions and mysterious scientific phenomena, such as glass melting throughout the city.

Alas, many of the large cast of characters from MIT and its rival, Harvard, are hard to distinguish from one another. The way that so many important events are embedded in a wealth of historical detail undermines interest, and also affects attention to its many important themes, such as women in science and faith versus technology.