by Bonnie Garmus

This novel takes a long time to get going, but when it goes, it’s a hum-dinger. Elizabeth Zott is a scientist. It’s the 1950s, so everyone assumes that women cannot do science. Much of the book is a primer on why second-wave feminism was needed. What really works here is that this is an exceptionally good portrait of what science is like.

There’s also a dog named Six-Thirty (6:30) and a five-year-old daughter, Mad, and each is superbly drawn.

A Readercon find (thanks, Gwynn Garfinkel), this is a nifty anthology that explores lots of ways in which things might have turned out very differently. What if the lord our god, king of the universe, blessed be he, was running a few hours late one day and the Red Sea parted after the rebels had been rounded up? What, for that matter, might have happened if Miriam has seen Pharaoh’s daughter drowning a Hebrew infant and, in her incandescent and perpetual rage, had led a military revolt that burnt all the ancient empires of the Mediterranean to the ground? What if Spinoza had married and gone off to live in his wife’s village, and then led a massive flight of Jews from the pogroms to New York?

Not every pivot is picked up — I’m surprised, for example, that no one wanted to take on any of the various ways that Paul might have been thwarted and how that might have changed things. But never mind: a lot of this was fun, and some was fascinating.