Graduating from Harvard at the height of World War II, brilliant mathematician Charlie Fish is assigned to the Manhattan Project. Working with some of the age’s greatest scientific minds, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, and Leo Szilard, Charlie is assigned the task of designing and building the detonator of the atomic bomb.
As he performs that work Charlie suffers a crisis of conscience, which his wife, Brenda—unaware of the true nature of Charlie’s top-secret task—mistakes as self-doubt. She urges him to set aside his qualms and continue. Once the bombs strike Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the feelings of culpability devastate him and Brenda.
At the war’s end, Charlie receives a scholarship to pursue a PhD in physics at Stanford—an opportunity he and Brenda hope will allow them a fresh start. But the past proves inescapable. All any of his new colleagues can talk about is the bomb, and what greater atomic weapons might be on the horizon. Haunted by guilt, Charlie and Brenda leave Stanford and decide to dedicate the rest of their lives to making amends for the evil he helped to birth into the world.
Based on the life of the actual mathematician Charles B. Fisk, Universe of Two combines riveting historical drama with a poignant love story. Stephen Kiernan has conjured a remarkable account of two people struggling to heal their consciences and find peace in a world forever changed.
Praise for Universe of Two
“Kiernan (The Baker’s Secret, 2017) movingly charts a couple’s relationship alongside the development of WWII’s Manhattan Project… Kiernan recreates the zeitgeist of America leading up to the atomic bomb on a national and personal level: the eager anticipation of wartime’s end, the grimly fascinating science, and the growing sense of guilt and dread. Simultaneously tender and hard-hitting, this riveting story offers much to reflect upon.” —Booklist
“General readers and those interested in the time period will enjoy this brutally honest novel by the author of The Baker’s Secret.”—Library Journal
“Universe of Two by Stephen P. Kiernan skillfully educates, entertains and enlightens as great historical fiction should. This masterfully researched and exquisitely told story of one man’s struggle of conscience is a fictionalized account of the life of Charles Fisk, a gifted young mathematician who was drafted to build the detonator for the atomic bomb.”—The Boston Globe
About Stephen P. Kiernan
Universe Of Two – August 4, 2020 is Stephen P. Kiernan’s sixth publication, following the novels THE BAKER’S SECRET (2017), THE CURIOSITY (2013) and THE HUMMINGBIRD (2015), and two works of nonfiction, LAST RIGHTS (2006), and AUTHENTIC PATRIOTISM (2010). Together with his work as a journalist, he has earned more than 40 writing awards, including the George Polk Award and the National Journalism Award (Scripps-Howard). A graduate of Middlebury College, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop, he has worked at the Breadloaf School of English and the Breadloaf Writers Conference. A longtime board member of the Young Writers Project, he lives in Vermont. Connect with Stephen!Website // Twitter // Instagram // Facebook