BONUS AUDIO: Author Robert J. Sawyer explains how the creationism vs. evolution debate informed the writing of Calculating God.
©2000 by Robert J. Sawyer; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
"Is Sawyer Canada's answer to Michael Crichton? Very possibly yes." (Montreal Gazette)
"Jonathan Davis...is one of our very best narrators and this is a fine performance. I was rapt the entire time, and even near tears at one moment in the book." (sffaudio.com; named an SFFaudio Essential)
"Jonathan Davis portrays a thoughtful and quietly introspective Jericho....As the conversation with Hollus continues, Davis keeps a steady pace and reflects the intellectual engagement of both characters. He presents the alien's speech as lightly studied, a fitting style for a non-English speaker who coordinates his speech between two mouths." (AudioFile)
I'm 66. I've read Audiobooks now for 6 years. After an assault, I had minor brain damage and couldn't read. Audible got me back to books
This book was so incredible I read it 4 times in the last month! It's the best audiobook I've listened to ever!
At the first page, Calculating God grabs each moment with compelling drive. From the first spoken word to the last, the characters capture your attention and never gives it back.
Calculating God is the first book I've listened to by Robert J. Sawyer and Jonathan Davis! It has sent me to find Robert's other books, and to write Jonathan a letter, of thanks for his talent in making the book live.
Many of the conversations between the alien and the scientist brings them to a close relationship which moved me to care deeply for these characters. I never met an alien with a sense of humor.
As an author, myself, I admire Robert's daring with character, plot, and intelligence. This book almost convinced me it was real. I found myself arguing the science. Amazing Book.
Calculating God was a bit of a roller coaster for me intellectually but ultimately I enjoyed it. It is a science fiction story where the conceit is the proof of intelligent design and a creator of the universe. The majority of the book I was annoyed with Robert J. Sawyer because his alien scientists did not submit actual evidence; describing an experiment or finding which revealed the existence of a god. Relying on circumstantial evidence undermined the weight of the alien credibility and lessened the sociological and cosmological impact. I am an unapologetic non-theist but welcomed the conjecture within this framework but was left mostly incredulous. I think it is important to note that late in this book there is potential direct evidence integrated into the narrative which grounds the discussion and salvages the purpose of this book. There is a good amount of solid science incorporated including detailed exobiology which always fun to think about, but ultimately the structure of the book and quality of the dialog and writing kept this from being a favorite. It is however a worthwhile read and a unique specimen in the genre of science fiction.
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!
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