Michel Houellebecq is clearly a polymath.
In Atomised (a science fiction novel very cleverly disguised as serious prize-winning literary fiction) he demonstrates his wide ranging knowledge and deep understanding of subjects ranging from philosophy to physics, and from biology to psychology, to brilliant effect.
The book reveals the author’s uniquely considered philosophy of history. He illustrates through his characters’ tragic, yet banal, lives how secular, post-modern civilisation’s rejection of the comfort of traditional familial bonds, Kantian rules and religion; in pursuit of utilitarian individualism, hedonism and materialism has eroded what is left of our fragile humanity and left us alone, exposed, empty and fragile. The book concludes with a glimpse of a possible future where humanity accepts voluntary extinction in exchange for a strange version of immortality as our logical conclusion.
Thought provoking and multi-faceted, Atomised connects the dots across many of the macro trends I am currently tracking (transhumanism, immortality, the slow decline of decadent, self indulgent Western culture and technology as a new religion to name a few) in some quite unexpected ways.