The Phantom Scientist
128 pp., 8 x 11 in,
- Published: November 30, -0001
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: February 21, 2023
- Publisher: The MIT Press
A mind-bending graphic novel that teases devious thrills from the mysteries of systems theory.
An isolated institute laid out in a Fibonacci sequence, hidden deep in the forest. Twenty-four labs. Twenty-four researchers. Until one of them disappears . . .
When physicist Stéphane Douasy arrives to occupy the vacant twenty-fourth lab at the Institute for the Study of Complex and Dynamic Systems, an ominous problem rises in his wake: what has happened to his missing neighbor in Building F? When Stéphane's neighbors, a discouraged linguist and a computer scientist bent on predicting the future, discover that the missing researcher may have solved the P versus NP problem—a coup in computer science with revolutionary implications for everything from mathematics to philosophy—before vanishing, things turn stranger still, and even more menacing. Solving the mystery of the Institute and its devolution into mayhem and violence every seventh year quickly shifts from being an intellectual exercise to a matter of life and death.
The Phantom Scientist is part thriller, part mystery, part systems theory—and all enthralling. The tale slyly draws together linguistics, biology, astrophysics, and robotics in a mind-bending puzzle that will thrill and inform readers.
“Is human behavior predictable? And what would happen if you could predict it? The Phantom Scientist is not only a mystery story that's difficult to put down, it's a deep dive into questions raised by the science of self-organized complex systems that hover on the edge of chaos. You will not regret reading this book.”
Sabine Hossenfelder, physicist; author, Existential Physics: A Scientist's Guide to Life's Biggest Questions
“An engaging, dryly funny read for armchair philosophers, disillusioned academics, and the unceasingly curious.”
"Cousin adroitly balances an accessible introduction to systems theory with a smart, well-paced mystery, animated by the very concepts he endeavors to explain. To combine mystery and a math comic, it's an elegant solution.”
“Cousin's novel is an engaging mix of mystery, science fiction and complexity theory, told through artwork that is simple, uncluttered and easy to follow…The languid, almost cinematic pace of the story pulls the reader in, creating a sense of space and time that contrasts with the change in tempo as events accelerate towards the end.”
"Cousin's thick and stylized drawings propel this thriller, involving a scientist who has vanished after claiming to have solved a momentous mathematical problem. As his colleagues search for his whereabouts, the isolated institute where they toil devolves into chaos.”
The New York Times
“This is a beautiful and sublime piece of work. The graphics are simple and the colours bold, standing in contrast with the complexity of the ideas touched on in the story which, ultimately, have to do with how science works and the nature of creativity itself.”