And the larger meanings of Solar are no more straightforward. Is science really so divorced from the humanities, or intelligence from goodness, as McEwan provokingly suggests? It is not clear that he wants us to think so, or that he intends Solar to feel as misanthropic as it often does. But in a novel full of grim jokes, the grimmest is the possibility that if the planet is to stand a chance of being saved, its fate may lie in the hands of a man like Michael Beard.
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