More interesting to the scientifically challenged reader are some of the other themes developed in the book. There are some interesting scenes dissecting the conflict between the hard science belief in the observable fact and the soft social sciences' post modern relativism. Beard gets into trouble, for example, when he tries to assert that genetic differences in the sexes account for the scarcity of women studying physics. A section describing an expedition to the Arctic with a group of artists suggests that ice sculpture and dance may not be the best way to deal with global warming. Poetry, as Beard demonstrated in attracting the first of his wives, is most effective as a means of seduction. Most thought provoking is the ironic notion that for those engaged economically in the solution of the problem, the threat of catastrophe is essential to their goal. As Beard tells his business partner in developing a process for cheap solar energy when he begins to worry that there is some question about the reality of the problem: "It's a catastrophe. Relax!"
McEwan has written a novel that will have you thinking one minute and laughing out loud the next. He has created a self absorbed, self indulgent protagonist who is as much a villain as he is a hero. Michael Beard is not a man the reader is ever going to feel sorry for. He is a man who deserves everything that happens to him. There may be some question about what all these women see in this short, fat bald man who doesn't age gracefully. He is at best a most unlikely romantic figure. Indeed that may be the most difficult thing in the book for the reader to accept. On the other hand if you can buy into that and don't trouble too much over the science, Solar is a book, you should find entertaining.