Unlike many scientists-turned-authors, who naturally gravitate to "the literature of science," otherwise known as science fiction, Lightman always has been startlingly aware that the written word is at its best when focused on human experience. Literary elitists who rarely hide their disgust with what they see as sci-fi's willing sacrifice of characterization to the gods of nifty gadgets and clever ideas will find little to complain about in Lightman's works.
"Imagine a world in which there is no time. Only images," begins one chapter of Einstein's Dreams. Then, when even respected "idea" writers such as Italo Calvino or Jorge Luis Borges would continue this mental mind game, Lightman turns immediately to human detail: "A child at the seashore, spellbound by her first glimpse of the ocean .A woman lying on her couch with wet hair, holding the hand of a man she will never see again."
"Scientists are more interested in the brain, while artists look to the heart and stomach," Lightman told The Pentagraph. The heart, the stomach, the brain -- they're all part of us. Lightman, like few other writers, understands we need all three to be living, breathing human beings.