The Absolute at Large

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Garland Pub., 1975 - Science fiction - 293 pages
31 Reviews
In this satirical classic, a brilliant scientist invents the Karburator, a reactor that can create abundant and practically free energy. However, the Karburator's superefficient energy production also yields a powerful by-product. The machine works by completely annihilating matter and in so doing releases the Absolute, the spiritual essence held within all matter, into the world. Infected by the heady, pure Absolute, the world's population becomes consumed with religious and national fervor, the effects of which ultimately cause a devastating global war. Set in the mid-twentieth century, The Absolute at Large questions the ethics and rampant spread of power, mass production, and atomic weapons that Karel Capek saw in the technological and political revolutions occurring around him. Stephen Baxter provides an introduction for this Bison Books edition.

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Review: The Absolute at Large

User Review  - prz grz - Goodreads

let's get the easy stuff out of the way first. the premise is: a Czech engineer designs a device that transforms matter into energy with perfect efficiency -- a sort of nuclear reactor, except this ... Read full review

Review: The Absolute at Large

User Review  - Tudor Micu - Goodreads

Quite an entertaining book. Not the kind that changes your view of the world, not even the kind that leaves you pondering afterwards (all right, maybe a little) It's good old fashioned science fiction ... Read full review



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About the author (1975)

Karel Capek is best known abroad for his plays, but at home he is also revered as an accomplished novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and writer of political articles. His bitingly satirical novel The War with the Newts (1936) reveals his understanding of the possible consequences of scientific advance. The novel Krakatit (1924), about an explosive that could destroy the world, foreshadows the feared potential of a nuclear disaster. In his numerous short stories he depicts the problems of modern life and common people in a humorous and whimsically philosophical fashion. The plays of Karel Capek presage the Theater of the Absurd. R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) (1921) was a satire on the machine age. He created the word robot from the Czech noun robota, meaning "work" for the human-made automatons who in that play took over the world, leaving only one human being alive. The Insect Comedy (1921), whose characters are insects, is an ironic fantasy on human weakness. The Makropoulos Secret (1923), later used as the basis for Leos Janacek's opera, was an experimental piece that questioned whether immortality is really desirable. All the plays have been produced successfully in New York. Most deal satirically with the modern machine age or with war. Underlying all his work, though, is a faith in humanity, truth, justice, and democracy, which has made him one of the most beloved of all Czech writers.

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