Excerpt from A Hole In Texas by Herman Wouk, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Hole In Texas

By Herman Wouk

A Hole In Texas
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Mar 2004,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2005,
    288 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"You know more about the Superconducting Super Collider than anyone here."

"The Super Collider? So what? It was killed back in '93. It's dead and forgotten."

"Not anymore."

"How's that? For crying out loud, Ottoline, what's up?"

"Not over the phone. I'll page Peter and see you in a bit."

Penny said, "Aleve, my foot," and gave him two of her migraine capsules. "These will do the trick."

"Codeine? I'll be a zombie," he protested, downing them.

"All the better. Don't commit yourself to anything involving colliders."

"Not with a knife at my throat."

Soft soothing warmth gradually suffused his back as he waited for Peter Braunstein. Memories flooded him, memories long suppressed, released and made dreamily vivid by the opiate. Those years in alien Texas, years of working his heart out on that stupendous machine; years of the greatest fun and challenge in his life, and the worst frustration! He knew too much, that was the trouble. The monster might well have worked, but then again, every one of those ten thousand supermagnets had to function flawlessly, and they were his responsibility. He had fought in vain for more time, more careful designing, more testing. Hurry, hurry, national prestige at stake, get the thing going, then see! That was the word from on high, with unsubtle slurs about his foot-dragging —

"Guy?" Peter Braunstein on the cell phone. "I'm calling from my car. You okay?"

"I'll live. What the devil's going on, Peter?"

"I just asked Ottoline when she called me about you. She said, ‘Budget,' and hung up. Be right there."

Budget . . . The haunt of modern science . . . The delayed-action bomb that had sunk the SSC! The NASA budget review in Congress happened every year around this time. NASA supported the Jet Propulsion Lab, JPL supported the Terrestrial Planet Finder, and that project was Ottoline's baby, so no doubt that was why she was on edge. Still, why the urgency? Their project had never yet run into a money problem. The Terrestrial Planet Finder was part of NASA's Origins Program, which was exploring two grand questions about human existence:

(1) Are we alone? (2) Where did we come from?

A tall order, a noble endeavor, and their part of it was to search for signs of life on planets circling remote stars. The new space telescopes, if they could get the budget for them, would go a long way toward solving these riddles . . .

Honk, honk outside the garage. Stooping to pass under the half-raised door was pleasantly painless. Guy's burly bearded tennis partner, a Cornell classmate and now an eminent astrophysicist, helped him into the high front seat of a battered camper. It was Peter Braunstein who, after the Texas debacle, had recruited Guy for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He said as he drove, "Well, let's hope it's NASA that's getting the heat, not our project."

"Peter, we're small potatoes."

"We're NASA small potatoes, Guy. NASA's been in trouble ever since the last Americans flew off the moon, you know that. No one big mission, a grab bag of dicey missions like ours, the media just yawn at the marvelous leaps ahead in space science, and every now and then a disaster throws the whole nervous bureaucracy into shock —"

"Go ahead, cheer me up," said Carpenter. He was happy at JPL, proud of his work on the Planet Finder, and he tried not to think beyond his day-to-day work. For a high-energy physicist, relocating yet again at his age would be murder.

"Oh, Ottoline's the worrier. I think we'll be okay. It's just that Congress is muttering more and more every year about money for NASA. Martian landscapes and floating astronauts are getting to be old stuff, Guy. Where's the payoff?"

From Chapter 1 of A Hole in Texas by Herman Wouk (page 5-9 of the hardcover edition). Copyright © 2004 by Herman Wouk. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...
  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Who Said...

Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.