Simon and Schuster, Jun 2003, 25.00, 383 pp.
A veteran of the worst atrocities of World War I including poison gas, Ray "Fos" Foster travels the American countryside carrying the scientific marvel, X-ray equipment. Fos claims to be an expert "Phenomenologist". Visiting the Carolina's Outer Banks for a meteor show, Fos meets and falls in love with Opal.
The duo marries as they share more than attraction. Both love everything scientific. Opal accompanies Fos on his circuit where he displays his X-ray machine at county fairs. He demonstrates the capabilities of x-rays to penetrate the skin by irradiating Opal's foot. Fos' scientific knowledge reputation grows until the Feds hire him to work for the Tennessee Valley Authority and ultimately during World War II at Site X in Oak Ridge. However, his idyllic life hits a major detour when Opal falls mysteriously ill. Science fails to help Fos, as he and the doctors know not why or what she suffers from.
The lead couple and a lad that they adopt are strong characters but the link to science seems farfetched, even with the character names loosely connected to science. The story line vividly describes the years between the great wars especially achievements that come across as homage to scientific accomplishment yet also carries a warning of beware what you create. It is this dual sword inside a deep look back at twentieth century that makes this epic worth reading.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner