Empirical Philosophy…What Now?

The Philosopher’s Flight

by Tom Miller

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the chance to review this book. **

I’ve been a little quiet on here lately, and there are two reasons for that. First, I am in graduate school to get my second master’s degree, and my classes are brutal at the moment. I’m not reading as much as I normally do at the moment. Second, I just finished a small collection of books that I didn’t like. It has disincentivized me to write the reviews. Today’s book is in that collection. It is also an older book that was initially caught up in my “New-to-NetGalley” mistake. Now, I am finally reviewing it.

Not every book is for every person. I think it’s safe to say that The Philosopher’s Flight was not for me.

The Philosopher’s Flight follows the journey of Robert Weeks, a young man from a rural town in Montana who is the son of a war hero. This war hero, however, is unique from any you have ever met. In a twist of alternative history, his mother is a famous empirical philosopher who had fought in several conflicts prior to the World Wars. What is an empirical philosopher, you might ask? Good question. I never did fully figure that one out, but it seemed like a mixture between a magician and a physicist. By drawing these symbols called sigils, the philosophers could make amazing things happen (thinking of flying, explosions, etc). In the book, Empirical Philosophers were first discovered during the Civil War, and women were naturally talented in its practice. As a result, men were often discriminated against when they tried to enter the field. The book not only addresses an alternative history, but also reverse sexism.

Robert has a unique talent for flying, especially for a man. After leading a rescue mission one night, he gets recommended to attend Radcliffe, a college that specializes in empirical philosophy. Since men are rarely talented in empirical philosophy, Robert is discounted and often treated poorly by the female students. His heart desires to pursue search and rescue, a dangerous career field that has not been made safer by the start of WWI. This career choice is unheard of for a man, and lots of women in the book throw roadblocks in his path. Lo and behold, he overcomes them one by one.

On top of the female students fighting against him, empirical philosophy has its own enemies. They are called Trenchers, a group that is obviously a nod to Nazis and other right-wingers. It’s almost laughable how villainized these guys are. Every time they see a philosopher, a fight to the death seems to break out. They’re trying to kill off the philosophers, which makes the spokespeople for the philosopher’s public targets. So, naturally, Robert encounters and falls in love with the most prominent one, Danielle Hardin.

Fantasy is one of my least favorite genres. This book felt like fantasy mixed with feminism and a sprinkle of historical fiction for good measure. I had a hard time following the specialized terms, and it made the book feel like a slow read. Plus, Robert and his roommate Freddie were some of the only likable characters in the book. The women were written to sound petty and insufferable, Half the time, I couldn’t blame the Trenchers for wanting to get rid of them.

This book also contained two of my major pet peeves. First, I hate when male writers convolute feminism and liberalism with sexual promiscuity. Some women like sex, yes. However, a woman doesn’t have to sleep around in order to show that she is progressive for her time. It always feels over the top when it comes from a male author. Second, I DESPISE when authors treat small-town living as something that’s disgusting. There are plenty of wonderful people who live in small towns (and smaller cities, for that matter). There is a world that exists outside of New York City (or, in this case, Boston), and not everybody wants it. As someone who lived in the Boston area for 4.5 years, I could make you a list of reasons why I would not want to retire there. That’s simply my preference, and other people have their preferences. However, STOP WRITING SMALL TOWN CHARACTERS LIKE THEIR #1 GOAL IS ALWAYS TO ESCAPE. Also, not everybody who lives in a rural area is stupid and ignorant. These tropes are insulting.

Overall, this wasn’t my favorite book. I give it 🌟🌟.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s