The theme of this book is very unique and interesting - aliens who arrive to Earth believe in God, and try to convince us that God exists (with scientific evidence). I enjoyed the characters in the book (at least the human ones) and how they interacted with the aliens. The ended was particularly strong and really developed the protagonist's character.
However I found the writing distracting. The author refers extensively to Toronto and Canadian politics, which (as someone who grew up in Toronto) distracted at times and felt unnecessary. In addition, I found the book got preachy at times, and descended into long diatribes about religion and god. This took me out of the story (which is fundamentally fiction, but with a strong argument).
This challenged me on all fronts. I have lots of education, but learned something new with every chapter. When I recommended the book to our librarian she automatically thought it was a religious book and I assured her that this is a BOOK TO OPEN UP YOUR MIND.
I am grateful to Robert Sawyer for his story of so many possibilities to consider and events to reflect on and visions to stimulate the imagination.
Its like some is telling me story. Better than TV or Movies.
Off beat, it's not you typical Scifi. No matter where you stand on the question of God this book is entertaining. And it leaves you thinking, maybe about God or maybe about space travel.
Finally going into space in the search of what they called God.
The main characters death. There was no miraculous cure or one on one encounter with God. There was a man coming to terms with mortality, his own his families even the worlds.
Amongst all the many books I have listened to on Audible, "Calculating God" has got to be at the top or near to it when it comes to pure unadulterated pleasure! This book not only has an abundance of intelligent and scientific considerations but interweaves a generous STORY in and out. I loved the wonder of the main character....always thinking, considering, meditating.....on the important things of this life.....and the secondary, the aliens, were believable and not fearsome beings as SF often depicts them as.
What more can I say about how much I enjoyed this book? Just about the time I thought the end (of the story) was near, a totally unexpected "hook" was thrown and we were, once again, thrown into a cauldron of expectation, excitement and perhaps a bit of fear!
This one has it all........I strongly recommend this to anyone with a curious and hungry mind. Doesn't hurt if you also are plagued with the old lifelong search for meaning and "what if's" about God and the universe either.
A strong plus!
Lover of sci-fi and the occasional horror story. Philosophical inclinations. English is my second language.
A brainy, yet compassionate novel exploring its philosophical premise about the existence of God. I love it! I particularly enjoyed the dialogue between the two main characters, as they battle theological questions while trying to overcome the human/alien communicative divide.
The alien Hollus lands at the Royal Ontario Museum and asks to speak to a paleontologist. Against expectations, he bonds with Thomas Jericho, the ROM's expert in prehistoric life. But as Hollus and his race soon turn out to be theists, Jericho finds himself defending his atheist default position as a scientist. Events in Jericho's life play into his discussions with Hollus.
It is quite evident that Sawyer enjoys playing with sci-fi tropes, and the book is full of references to Star Trek. He skillfully uses Spock's evident humanness - or the question of similarities or dissimilarities between humans and alien races - as a brick in the theist/atheist debate. Trekkies like myself are bound to love it.
One negative comment on the book concerns its repetitious handling of Jericho's private life. It is understandable and acceptable that the author wants to inject Jericho's views about God with concerns for his private relationships and thoughts about his own death. It is even central that Jericho has a private life to give him a personality beyond his role as an informed atheist and thus avoiding making this another book of mere opinions. But Sawyer himself is fairly uninterested in this part of the story, and so Jericho's relationship to his wife and son is reduced to "I loved her so much", "I did not want to leave her", "I felt tears welling up inside as I heard my son speak those words". When this kind of platitudes are repeated for the n'th time, it get annoying. A bit more tension, some more life in the family life, had been appropriate.
Also, I don't get why the point about the two Christian fundamentalists (that fundamentalism is bad?) should take up so much space/time in the book? Is it really that important to the narrative?
Otherwise a fine, well-thought out book. People who don't like to ponder the meaning of life and related questions, will probably not get the point. All of us who do, should read it.
Skip the humor, state your case then defend your position. Oh yeah, have the main character quit whining.
Hi! I'm a Math Teacher who has always loved Books with a mysterious, scientific, or other-worldly flare! Time travelers are also fun!
Have not read the print....really enjoyed the audio.
It's a very unique book...science, religion, aliens, and a touch of human insanity combine to create an original view of the origins of the universe. It's not a science vs religion as much as it is a science proves religion book. If you like Sci FI and are not Agnostic you'll like the book! (or maybe if you are Agnostic you'll still enjoy the banter)
Good readers...loved the Alien voices. The readers had good pace. The emotion of the readers trumped the idea of just reading it yourself!
I almost did! And then just started it over for a second read!!!!
The book is such a unique story that it's worth the listen! Many of the books "scientific proofs" of why there must be a God figure in the universe, hold with or without Aliens. It'll make you think no matter how deeply you feel there is or isn't a God. The Alien species were imaginative. It was fun trying to understand how each species evolved their own methods of communication. These methods were the key to understanding each species' beliefs. Insight into the language piece alone can develop a respect for the various cultures and languages on Earth.
Books that prompt insights are always worth the read!
The subject matter is though provoking. The narration is excellent and suits the main character of Tom Jericho very well. I love how it addressed a very controversial topic and explored it in a fascinating way. The ending, particularly the final few sentences are among my favourite endings of all time. Very simple, but perfectly suited to the story and very satisfying!
It's a big idea and moves along very well. There is tonnes of dialogue between the main characters to explore the main themes, but there is a great mix of Tom's personal journey. I thought these two elements were intertwined very well.
The voices were very well done, but I thought that he was perfectly suited for the main character, Tom Jericho. The pacing, and introspective performance was spot on. Each character voice was 100% believable and consistent throughout the book. This absolutely enhanced the listening experience.
I listened to it on my drive to and from work. Usually at least 45 minutes at a time. There is no book I would ever listen to all at once (lifestyle) but I absolutely looked forward to getting in the car and hearing what happened next!
Great topic. Well written. Excellent performance. Highly recommended!
I can see why some people would not like this book. There is a lot of dialogue between the human Tom and the alien Hollus about the existence and nature of God. Scientific rationale is used to prove that God exists and has a limited capacity to prevent suffering. The overarching theme of the book is that science and faith can co-exist; they do not have to be at odds with each other. A tremendous amount of factual information is delivered in the novel, and errant conclusions are intentionally made from carefully misguided extrapolations. But I am confident in my personal beliefs, and this is fiction after all, so I found the novel thought provoking and entertaining. I enjoyed the story of Tom's personal struggle and how it was woven into the story and provided a break from the dialogue with Hollas. I found myself wishing that the story ended with Tom shooting away from Earth. That would have made a great opportunity for a sequel.
Jonathan Davis is superb !!
Bi-Vocational Pastor/Draftsman. Full time husband and dad. Audiobooks are a staple in my life because I can read and work...
As a student of theology and philosophy, I appreciated all the various views on the subject of God. I couldn't imagine a novel on the topic, and while I come to a different conclusion than the author, Sawyer pulls it off... and it was enjoyable! Sawyer creates an environment inside the story that is safe for all the beliefs about God to be expressed and tested. The back and forth between characters regarding their views was nicely done. Although the story is 100% sci-fi, the ideologies discussed really exist. The story also forces you to consider death, what it means to really live and what is Gods role in it. I found a couple of things that I don't feel added to the story. There were some Southern religious right-wing characters named J.D. and Cooter (a reference to Dukes of Hazzard?) that didn't feel necessary to address the narrow mindedness issue. There was also an attempt to ground the eternal life issue by saying the other intelligent beings had uploaded their consciousnesses into a super computer program to pull it off. That wasn't a necessary item to me and it had a relatively small part in the novel. And the physical description of the creator also limited the imagination of the reader. That could've been left out. Over all, it is worth a credit if you like philosophy and theology and can enjoy various views on the subject without getting bent out of shape. The narration is well done and you can listen comfortably at 2X speed. Sawyer also has a book out on writing techniques that is good. Hope this helps. Later.