The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars: Twilight Thoughts of a Soulless Machine by Paul  Broks
(Penguin Press, 2018)

The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars: Twilight Thoughts of a Soulless Machine

by Paul Broks

An audacious and beautiful account of the nature of selfhood. Memoir, neuroscience and myth interweave to create a book unlike any other.

A man’s wife dies. What next? The next day is next, and the next, and so on. He smothers his sorrow and gets on with the days. He’s a Stoic. Tranquillity is the goal, but his brain won’t rest. As a neuropsychologist he has spent a career trying to fathom the human brain but now, he comes to realize, his brain is struggling to make sense of him - probing, doubting, reconstructing.

Combining neurological case stories and memoir, and with excursions into speculative fiction and mythology, this is an audaciously original, deeply personal meditation on grief, time and selfhood.


The Darker the Night, The Brighter the Stars is a work of extraordinary insight and imagination. Broks is a 21st century Dante of the human psyche, guiding us on a journey full of surprise, erudition, and wit. ”
- David George Haskell, author of The Forest Unseen and The Songs of Trees
In this gorgeous kaleidoscope of a book, the neuroscientist Paul Broks takes us image by image, story by story, into an exploration of life with all its brilliant hues of grief and despair, joy and resilience, biology and society. There's science here, and curiosity, and humanity, all forming a remarkable portrait of who we are—and who we hope to be. ”
- Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The Poisoner’s Handbook
Broks weaves many threads—memoir, neuroscience, and metaphysics—into a rich fabric of reflection, speculation and deep feeling. This is a work that defies categorization, fusing non-fiction and imagination into a single instrument of piercing insight and emotional honesty. ”
- Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
This is a wonderful, strange and genre-defying book, but its interweaving themes are true to its title... This book is indeed framed by death, but it powerfully evokes the beauty and absurdity, the sadness and the mystery, the beating pulse of life. ”
- Adam Zeman, Standpoint Magazine