Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Subliminal photo taken after reading The Humans by @matthaig1

I was staring out of the window towards the emerging daylight. I could see a trace across the sky, probably a plane inbound to Heathrow. The moon lurked below the tree-line and some kind of satellite was twinkling towards me. Kind of "that's all you'll get with this amount of street lighting around".

I took a picture anyway, and then later I noted a similarity with the cover of a book I've just been reading. Just finished actually. The Humans, by Matt Haig.
It's an enjoyable and humorously written narrative about a killer alien sent to earth to tidy up some loose ends associated with recent prime number theory discoveries. They are the sort of discoveries that could give the earth extra powers.

If it sounds too much like a Doctor Who and the Daleks plotline, it is much more a story of alienation and then the discovery of love.

Our narrator, who assumes we are also from another world, gives us his perceptions of the strange planet earth, whilst he matter-of-factly goes about his amoral mission to remove the solution of the Riemann Hypothesis. He's been made into a surrogate of a Cambridge Professor - the one who'd originally solved the Riemann Hypothesis. If you are wondering, Riemann came up with the zeta function for predicting the incidence of primes in a defined integer number space. Something we all need, apparently.

As well as the moon and stars, the book's cover has a picture of a dog and a squirrel. If the math above sounds like dog-speak, the story still works with many discoveries relayed to the reader as simple observations:

An early one:

“I picked up these books and realised they both said ‘£8.99’ on the back. The interpolation of the entire language I had done with the aid of Cosmopolitan meant I knew this was the price of the books, but I did not have any money. So I waited until no one was looking (a long time) and then I ran very fast out of the shop."

A little later:

“Humans, I was discovering, believed they were in control of their own lives, and so they were in awe of questions and tests, as these made them feel like they had a certain mastery over other people, who had failed in their choices, and who had not worked hard enough on the right answers.”

Of course, things develop as our narrator becomes fascinated with the human condition - no more or I'll start to spoil it.

And I'm still wondering how the cover art became something I emulated in a photograph the next day, without realising the connection?


Lady Banana said...

An oddly enjoyable read!

Nikki-ann said...

I really must get around to reading this one. I picked up a copy at Hay Festival a couple of years ago and got it signed by Matt while I was there.

rashbre said...

Lady Banana Yes, I was given it as a present and actually thought it was going to be about a dog!

Nikki-ann Its worth the read and suitably off beat.