Friday, May 19, 2017

The Berlin Project & The Cherry Gimlet

Today on Drinks with Reads, Gregory Benford joins us to talk about his new novel, The Berlin Project, and match it with the perfect drink. Benaford is a long time professor at the University of California at Irvine where teaches physics. In the Berlin Project he creates an alternate history about the creation of the atomic bomb that explores what could have happened if the bomb was ready to be used by June 6, 1944. 

The Berlin Project‘s specific premise is that we don’t make the one major error in scientific judgment we did at the beginning of WW II. In the first years of the Manhattan project, to make atom bombs, the USA chose the wrong, inefficient way to separate out the useful kind of uranium. The race to develop the bomb would then have gone differently, faster—and given us the bomb a year earlier. This yields a very different World War II and the peace that comes from it.
The action follows the scientists who did the actual work, starting in 1938. It is a novel about how scientists think, how they react to the onrushing events of a world headed for the biggest war in history. At the end of The Berlin Project we get to see a different 1963, a better world.
Since this is an historical novel, it shows the reality as much as one can. It abounds in photos, posters and propaganda of the time. Some of these are made public for the first time, as with the ID badges for the Manhattan Project: a smirking Richard Feynman, a glowering General Groves.
Nearly all the characters really existed. Benford knew most of them, worked with several. Every document figuring in the drama is real, from memos to letters. The effect is this is how it really could have been. 

Benford says, “My sense of the story gathering momentum, as the war changes its flavor, drove the writing. The battles change, the possibilities blossom, surprises come from the history itself. This has been perhaps my most enjoyable project, ever—great fun to write.” 

The Drink:

Cherry Gimlet
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the gin, triple sec, lime juice, Simple Syrup and cherry nectar and shake well. Strain into the light blue tulip glass; if desired, garnish with the cherry. Read as you sip.

In the novel, the baseball player turned spy, Moe Berg, enjoys this drink. He truly did carry out the exploits shown in the novel, and expressly drank gimlets. He even sipped one from this glass, a tulip glass blown in Venice.

Gregory Benford — physicist, educator, author — was born in Mobile, Alabama, on January 30, 1941. In 1963, he received a B.S. from the University of Oklahoma, and then attended the University of California, San Diego, where he received his Ph.D. in 1967. Benford is a professor of physics at the University of California, Irvine, where he has been a faculty member since 1971. Benford is the author of over twenty novels, including Jupiter Project, Artifact, Against Infinity, Eater, and Timescape. A two-time winner of the Nebula Award, Benford has also won the John W. Campbell Award, the Australian Ditmar Award, the 1995 Lord Foundation Award for achievement in the sciences, and the 1990 United Nations Medal in Literature. Visit his website at 

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a great read! Also a wonderful drink to sip while reading. Love the blue tulip glass!