The Smithsonian Institution: A Novel
It's Good Friday 1939, and a teenage math prodigy from St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., is mysteriously summoned to the Smithsonian Institution, where a crash program to develop the atomic bomb is being conducted in the basement. Someone is also fooling around with the space-time continuum, and the preternaturally gifted teenager turns out to hold the key to both the secrets of nuclear fission and breakthroughs in the fourth dimension. In the subterranean laboratory, he brainstorms with Robert Oppenheimer and other scientists who will soon be at Los Alamos. Meanwhile, upstairs, the displays in the museum come to life after hours, and an adventurous First Lady from the inaugural-gowns exhibit takes it upon herself to show him the sexual ropes.
Abraham Lincoln - along with Charles Lindbergh, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Grover Cleveland, and Adolf Hitler - turns up here as the teenage narrator tries not only to make sense of history but to intervene in key events that shaped the twentieth century. Questions about political responsibility and personal sacrifice are deftly woven into a surreal narrative of quantum physics, string theory, clones, the sexual habits of Eskimos, and the domestic arrangements of various U.S. presidents.
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