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I read this novel about 10 years ago, but it was a library book, already used. But it did not “feel” like an old classic. Hard to pinpoint the time it was written.

What I remember best is the book. There was only one story in it, so a novel, not a novella, but a rather short one. Indeed the book was very narrow, a hardcover with the two rather thick covers making up almost half the width (well this may be an exaggeration of my memory, maybe not "almost half" the width but a bit less, but a non-negligible part). The cover was mostly dark blue.

It is about a scientific team trying to reach the “absolute zero”, 0 K, a big project, scores of scientist and techs.

It is told by the point-of-view character who is related to the person in charge of the project. Not as close as his brother but possibly his brother-in-law, but I am not sure.

The project suffers many problems, delays, and so on. At the end the person in charge decides to go on despite a known danger. Absolute zero is indeed achieved, but a disaster occurs. It is not as simple as an explosion who’d kill everyone on site. It is in a sense worse.

The POV character was not on-site so he survives. But one thing I remember is that he wonders whether all the people who were on-site are really dead or still living in some different world that cannot communicate with his, in a kind of suspended animation at zero temperature or something like that.

  • @gen-zreadytoperish OK, OK..... – Alfred Dec 8 '19 at 22:18
17

This is Heads by Greg Bear, published in 1992.

A review mentions that the goal is to reach absolute zero and that the story is told from the POV of the brother-in-law of one of the researchers (and that it's a very short novel).

A hundred years in the future, Michael Sandoval is the manager at Ice Pit Station - a research station on the Moon. Two projects are taking place here. His brother in-law is trying to reach absolute zero in a small piece of copper. His sister is trying to wring memories from four hundred and ten frozen heads. The first one is on the border of known physics; the second one is crossing several ethical and political borders. In the political upheaval of the Heads a cult is trying to take control of the free Moon.

Short, sweet and to the point, Bear tells a cute little story in less than a hundred and fifty pages. A book for one of those days where a short story just isn't enough and a full-length novel is too much.

  • Looks right. I'm just trying to check some details. – Alfred Dec 7 '19 at 21:40
  • The cover on the link you gave did not look familiar but on another link google.com/… the leftmost cover does look right Also the 410 frozen heads... this also strikes an old forgotten memory. That's the one . – Alfred Dec 7 '19 at 21:44
  • 2
    This is later featured more fully in the Greg Bear novel Moving Mars, which has an entire science based around these events. – Moo Dec 8 '19 at 9:09

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