Book - 2010
Average Rating:
Rate this:
An engrossing, satirical and very funny new novel on climate change.

Michael Beard is in his late fifties; bald, overweight, unprepossessing - a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. An inveterate philanderer, Beard finds his fifth marriage floundering. But this time it is different: she is having the affair, and he is still in love with her.

When Beard's professional and personal worlds are entwined in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself, a chance for Beard to extricate himself from his marital mess, reinvigorate his career and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster.

With a global scope, Solar is a comedy dealing directly with the crises of today. A story of one man's ambitions and self-deceptions, it is a startling and stylish new departure in the work of one of the world's great writers.

From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2010
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780307399243
Branch Call Number: FIC McEwa 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 285 p


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Sep 05, 2017

Reached page 50 and sent it in the waste basket. For what I read, it wasn't worth continuing. There are loads of better books waiting for my pleasure.

Mar 29, 2017

Oddly, I didn't find the novel particularly funny as others did. It was amusing that the main character was supposed to be a Nobel prize physicist - buddy of Feynman and quantum electrodynamics - and they worked some little physics things into the story like the Heisenberg uncertainty principal. But too much fluff. There was just too much of little import described in great detail, and so by the end it felt like a waste of time. An OK novel but nothing spectacular.

Mar 08, 2017

A good satire. You may recognize some characteristics of your own professor(s) if you are in the right age group.

Apr 17, 2016

Amazing and well told. Beard is the quintessentially flawed human being. Science was spot on.

Oct 16, 2014

Thoroughly enjoyed the tongue in cheek humour. Laughed out loud so often. Canadians have to appreciate the winter humour in the snowmobile episode.
Protagonist is a delight, because we can dislike him so much as he digs himself in deeper. How much worse can he get?! Yet we can see bits of him everywhere in society. Sadly. A nice karmic ending, though!

WVMLStaffPicks Sep 14, 2014

Contrary to opinions of both friends and reviewers who criticized this book on the grounds that they couldn't bear the protagonist (another unlikable, aging, academic womanizer); thought the plots were weak, disjointed or both; and disliked a raft of other qualities, I found it so entertaining and compelling I wanted to read passages out loud to anyone who would listen!

Apr 12, 2014

Hilarious book. Page turner. Highly recommend.

Apr 02, 2013

Heard him interviewed on Sci Friday. He is a novelist that likes science - doesn't describe himself as a science fiction writer.

Oct 13, 2012

This novel failed the 50-page test. I am really interested in global climate change so I persevered to page 75 before closing the covers. The initial twenty pages grapple with the main character's five failed marriages. Then the author develops the main character as a washed-out, bumbling, and distracted person in such an overdrawn way that it slips from humour into pathos. This novel should be consigned to the Beard-Einstein Conflation.

Dec 05, 2011

Disappointing story with unpleasant people. Sorry I spent the time to finish it. Well-written but what's the point?

View All Comments


Add a Quote

LMOH Sep 27, 2010

"He belonged to that class of men - vaguely unprepossessing, often bald, short, fat, clever - who were unaccountably attractive to certain beautiful women. Or he believed he was, and thinking seemed to make it so."

Jun 22, 2010

"Beard's past was often a mess, resembling a ripe, odorous cheese oozing into or over his present."

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SPL

To Top