The Oppenheimer Alternative

The Oppenheimer Alternative

by Robert J. Sawyer
The Oppenheimer Alternative

The Oppenheimer Alternative

by Robert J. Sawyer



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"An imaginative restructuring of a phantasmagoric life into an alternative phantasmagorical story. Oppenheimer fans will be intrigued." —Martin J. Sherwin, co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the basis for Christopher Nolan's movie Oppenheimer


While J. Robert Oppenheimer and his Manhattan Project team struggle to develop the atomic bomb, Edward Teller wants something even more devastating: a weapon based on nuclear fusion — the mechanism that powers the sun. But Teller's research leads to a terrifying discovery: by the mid-21st century, the sun will eject its outermost layer, destroying the entire planet Earth.


Oppenheimer combines forces with Albert Einstein, Hans Bethe, Freeman Dyson, Enrico Fermi, Richard Feynman, Leo Szilard, John von Neumann, and Kurt Gödel — plus rocket scientist Wernher von Braun — in a race against time to save our planet.


• #1 Locus bestseller!

• Winner of the Helicon Award for Best Alternate History Novel of the Year


"My favorite Sawyer book of all; the extrapolation is as brilliant as the history." —Amazing Stories


"I loved it! I know the history of this period well and I'm one or two degrees of separation from many of these people. Sawyer's portrayals ring true to me." —Lee Smolin, bestselling author of The Trouble with Physics


"Sawyer does a magnificent job. Every individual pops right off the page, fully integrated both into their era and amongst themselves. The whole book is rich in emotional depth." —Locus


"Science fiction fans will devour this smart speculative tale." —Publishers Weekly


"Incredibly realistic: the characters, locations, the era, and even the science. I felt like I was back in Los Alamos — and I should know: I worked there! Breathlessly riveting; Sawyer pulls it off masterfully." —Doug Beason, former Associate Laboratory Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory


"An excellent blend of hard science, alternate history, and the inner workings of one of the key men of the 20th century. Highly recommended." —Sci-Fi Bulletin


"The feel and detail of the Manhattan Project figures is deep and well done. I knew many of these physicists, and Sawyer nails them accurately." —Gregory Benford, author of The Berlin Project


"I enjoyed it tremendously! Really great, a page-turner. I was hooked from the beginning to the end. Another fine addition to the Sawyer canon!" —Andre Bormanis, producer, The Orville and Cosmos


"I can't imagine the amount of research that went into giving each character a believable voice and personality, but this is Robert J. Sawyer so maybe I shouldn't be surprised. It reminded me of the play Copenhagen by Michael Frayn, with more thrills, cool rockets and a doomsday scenario to boot." —Sylvain Neuvel at


"You can call this alternate history or alternate astrophysics (or both). Whatever term you choose, it's a terrific story." —Eric Flint, author of 1632

Product Details

BN ID: 2940163934515
Publisher: SFWRITER.COM Inc.
Publication date: 06/02/2020
Sold by: Draft2Digital
Format: eBook
Sales rank: 475,847
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

About The Author
Robert J. Sawyer is one of only eight writers in history to have won all three of the science-fiction field’s top awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo (which he won for Hominids), the Nebula (which he won for The Terminal Experiment), and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (which he won for Mindscan).

Sawyer’s novel FlashForward was the basis for the ABC TV series of the same name, and he wrote the two-part finale for the acclaimed web series Star Trek Continues.

The New York Times calls Sawyer “a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation.” New Scientist calls his work “scientifically plausible, fictionally intriguing, and ethically important.” And The Washington Post says, “No reader seeking well-written stories that respect, emphasize, and depend on modern science should be disappointed by the works of Rob Sawyer.”

Read an Excerpt

“You’re bad luck for me,” said Haakon Chevalier. “I hope you know that.”

Robert Oppenheimer looked at his friend, seated next to him on the pink-and-green living-room couch as the party bustled about them. Oppie’s sense was the exact opposite: Hoke had brought him nothing but good fortune, including getting him into this offbeat rooming house here on Shasta Road. “Oh?”

“Absolutely. When I go places without you, I’m considered the attractive one.”

Oppenheimer made a small chuckle. Chevalier, who had just turned thirty-five, was three years his senior, and was indeed movie-star handsome: gallant, as befitted his last name, and long of face, with wide-spaced eyes and sandy hair swept back in a slight pompadour.

By comparison, Oppie knew he himself was scrawny, his tall body angular, his coarse black hair a wild nimbus, and his duck-footed gait awkward—one friend had described it as a constant falling forward as if he were forever tumbling into the future.

“See that one over there?” continued Hoke, with a subtle nod. “She hasn’t glanced at me once since we got here, but you—” Chevalier shook his head in good-natured exasperation. “It’s those goddamn eyes of yours, I tell you. Fucking opals.”

Oppie was used to compliments about his pale blue eyes: he often heard them called “transparent” or “luminous,” but this metaphor was new to him. He smiled as he turned to look at the woman Hoke had indicated, and—

And, my God, he’d seen that lovely face before—he was sure of it. But where? “Wow,” said Oppie softly.

“Wow, indeed,” agreed Hoke. “And she keeps looking your way. You should go over and say hello.”

“I ... um ...”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake, Robert, go! You study the mysteries of the universe; girls are simple by comparison.”

Hoke taught French literature at the University of California’s Berkeley campus; Oppie was a professor of physics there. Normally, members of such diverse faculties would have little to do with each other, but Oppie loved French poetry, and the two men had become great friends. One advantage Hoke had was a lot of female students—he’d married one, in fact—whereas in Robert’s circles, women were rare. “Come on,” said Hoke. “Give me a story to tell Barb when I get home. Go try your luck.”

Luck. Einstein said that God didn’t play dice with the universe—but, then again, God probably wasn’t itching to get laid. “All right already,” Oppie said, unfolding himself from the couch. Of course, he couldn’t just go up and say hello, but Mary Ellen, his landlady, was swirling by in one of her floor-length batik dresses. She threw many parties, often as fund-raisers. This one was for the Republicans in Spain—or maybe it was for the Spanish Nationalists? Whoever the good guys were, anyway; Oppie had come downstairs from his room for donuts and drinks, not the cause.

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