Boston, 1868. An inexplicable force causes ships’ instruments to stop working, causing chaos in Boston Harbor. Even more baffling, in the city’s business district a sinister phenomenon causes glass to liquefy, killing citizens and resulting in fear, panic and economic havoc. This strange case is beyond the expertise of the police, but some fearless students in the first class of the newly formed Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- the technologists -- take on the challenge, hoping to score a victory against rival Harvard.
This is an excellent historical thriller by Matthew Pearl (he also wrote The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow ). While the suspense is teeth-clenching, there are also some deeper themes to ponder, such as the role of technology in the modern world, and how far science and engineering can or should go in altering nature. The audio version is read by Stephen Hoye , who does a good job of making you forget you are listening -- in other words, you think you are actually there.