An innovative theory of consciousness, drawing on the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and supported by brain-imaging, presented in the form of a hardboiled detective story.
This ambitious, unwieldy "novel theory" by philosophy professor Lloyd (Simple Minds) sets out to explore paradigms of consciousness while solving the murder of a stodgy instructor at fictional Whaleard University. When graduate student Miranda Sharpe makes an early morning raid on her adviser's office to take back her dissertation, she is horrified to find philosophy professor Maxwell Grue hunched over his desk, presumably dead. Later in the day, his body has disappeared, and Miranda begins "Sherlocking." After the firewall protecting the college computer network is breached and the system crashes, she sifts through Grue's e-mails, CD-ROMs and jargon-laden "virtual world" Web site to find clues. A number of suspects materialize: radio psychologist Clare Lucid; a Russian forensic exchange professor; Miranda's ex-boyfriend; and a smitten computer geek named Gordon. Even the author himself surfaces to lend a hand. Since everyone revels in illustrating neurophilosophical theories, by the time all the sleuthing pays off, the characters have lost definition and the narrative is tied up in knots. Bafflement continues into a stand-alone Part Two as Lloyd leaves his primary story behind for a more academic focus, expanding on a new theory of consciousness developed over the course of the novel. Dry textbook language and graphics that only seasoned scholars will fully comprehend make Lloyd's concentrated exploration of cognitive science a slog for the average mystery reader. The theories on time, reality and whole-brain functionality are intriguing, but Lloyd will lose all but his hardest-working readers by the time the "Sources and Notes" section is reached. (Dec.) Forecast: Intended as an original scientific document as well as a novel, the book may fare better in the former category, though blurbs from Daniel Dennett and David Lodge should catch the eye of campus browsers. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.