Last Updated September 5, 2023.
The main characters of “Entropy” are the tenants of two Washington, DC apartments. On the third floor lives Meatball Mulligan; upstairs from him live Callisto and Aubade. The other characters are Meatball’s friends and guests at the party he is throwing.
Meatball is presented primarily in relationship to these friends and guests. The author does not describe his appearance. Meatball is asleep amidst the party’s chaos when the story opens, then awakens and converses with numerous individuals, especially his friend Saul.
Sandor Rojas, who is Hungarian, is described as a “freedom fighter” and an ardent pursuer of women. For this Don Giovanni (operatic ladies’ man), even a woman’s voice can make him salivate with desire.
Saul, a “shaggy woebegone figure,” enters through the window. During a large part of the story, he talks with Meatball in the kitchen about his breakup: his wife, Miriam, has left him. He is dejected, like a “big rag doll,” but acknowledges his responsibility for the breakup due to his physical violence, saying “I slugged her.” He and Miriam were arguing about communications theory and its applicability to science and its frequently erroneous presentation in science fiction. The two friends discuss language barriers and theories of love.
Other party guests mentioned several times include Duke, Vincent, Krinkles, and Paco, who are the members of the Duke di Angelis quartet. The female guests are described as “government girls” working for the State Department or other agencies, three “coed” philosophy majors from George Washington University, and an unnamed “girl” who was sleeping in the bathroom sink.
Callisto, fifty-four years old, is writing his memoirs, in which he refers to himself in the third person, by dictating them to Audabe. He seems cynical or depressed, saying that he is in “the sad dying fall of middle age.” His memoir text, rather than personal, is concerned with the Laws of Thermodynamics, especially the idea of inevitable entropy. Callisto has constructed a hothouse environment, full of tropical plants and birds, in an effort to achieve an ecologically balanced retreat. During the course of the story, he loses his three-day fight to keep one small bird alive.
Aubade, his girlfriend and apartment-mate, is part French and part Annamese. (Annam is now part of the country Vietnam; in the 1950s, it was a protectorate with the French colony of Vietnam.) The narrator stresses that she inhabits a distinct reality, “her own curious and lonely planet,” and that sensory impressions reach her primarily via sound, as music emerging from discord. The anarchy of random sounds exhaust her by threatening the “archtictonic purity” of her world.