||McEwan's latest novel skewers fanatics, libertines, and the god-headed media, as well as taking an unapologetic stab at the politics and religiosity of 21st century science. He reveals the folly of doublethink, groupthink, and egomania in a ferocious satire of many-layered complexity. When you close the pages of the book, you are apt to appreciate it more as it settles into the parts of your brain that mingle literature with social commentary. The entertainment value is actually eclipsed by its brilliance, the dazzling rays reaching out to prior gems and reflecting an awful lot of sublime light. It's cheeky, satirical, uncomfortable, and to some readers, it will be controversial. Our unsympathetic protagonist is Michael Beard. (I note that the name is no accident, a beard being a person that is used by someone else to cover something up, and Michael meaning someone who is like God.) Michael is a 50-something former Nobel laureate, resting on his fleshy laurels from twenty-two years ago, where he stood on the shoulders of Einstein and proposed a scientific "Conflation Theory" that was trailblazing at the time. Now, he tours around the globe giving lectures and consults for a large fee, and he sits idly as a member of a board at a center for renewable energy in the UK. His main pursuit is women, and he pursues them with -aholic depravity. As the novel opens, his fifth marriage is falling apart due to his infidelities. But this time, his wife got the last word by having some side dishes for herself and leaving him labeled as the cuckold. Michael is a bozo with a brain. He is selfish, hideous, immoderate, and amoral. He exploits what he sees as the folly and weakness of the mass ideology in order to feed his degenerate egomania, but he is in denial of his own foolishness and excesses. He observes the current hysteria of global warming fanatics. (By the way, don't kill the messenger--I am not denying the seiousness of climate change, but rather sharing aspects of the novel). He compares them to Old Testament Armageddon-addicts and peril-seekers. He proclaims that global warming has created so much heat that it has evolved into a religion of sorts, so that even left-wing atheists have merged science and religion into a cataclysmic catastrophe, a noble purpose--and, for some people, a fanatical life quest.