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)
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!
A Sci Fi junkie who occasionally goes slumming to read other literature.
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 !!
The great thing about puppets and cartoon characters is that they can get away with doing and saying things that should be done and said.
So in that way, having aliens do and say things that fundamentalist atheists and blinkered religionists alike (and they are all too alike) have prejudiced themselves against is refreshing.
Good story, good questions, good sci-fi.
the story was laid out , with twist and turns and every corner. I felt for the characters, i knew these people. I could put myself in the places these events happen. I loved LOVED loved!!! enjoyed!!! this book. will be on one of my all time favorites list.
to give the best moment of this book , well you just have to read it, but i will say i NEVER expected the ending, OMG.
Men's Minister - Hardcore Christian Men
I love the concept that this book is written on. As a seminary student, I am often annoyed by the fact that there is an "anti-God" theme to most alien books, but this one takes a different tact. I still was annoyed by the "anti-God" message for those of us that believe in an present and active God, but still a great concept here. I'm really interested in how Sawyer came up with some of the ideas he puts forth, but would also love to know why he discounts many of the accepted truths about God (omniscience, omnipotence, etc.)
For believers, a warning: if you're looking for God in these pages, you won't find Him. The concept is interesting, but Sawyer is using the term "god" for a limited being who happens to be a fictional universe creator, not the God of scripture.
This is definitely not a religious tale although this is a part of it.
Aliens come to earth and who do they want to see? Not the president, prime minister or the queen. Not the Pope, Dalai Lama or other religious leaders. No, they want to see a paleontologist, to help find God. The atheist paleontologist and religious alien work together to find God.
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