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Calculating God | [Robert J. Sawyer]

Calculating God

In this Hugo-nominated novel, an alien walks into a museum and asks if he can see a paleontologist. But the arachnid ET hasn't come aboard a rowboat with the Pope and Stephen Hawking (although His Holiness does request an audience later). Landing at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the spacefarer, Hollus, asks to compare notes on mass extinctions with resident dino-scientist Thomas Jericho.
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Publisher's Summary

In this Hugo-nominated novel, an alien walks into a museum and asks if he can see a paleontologist. But the arachnid ET hasn't come aboard a rowboat with the Pope and Stephen Hawking (although His Holiness does request an audience later). Landing at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the spacefarer, Hollus, asks to compare notes on mass extinctions with resident dino-scientist Thomas Jericho. A shocked Jericho finds that not only does life exist on other planets, but that every civilization in the galaxy has experienced extinction events at precisely the same time. Armed with that disconcerting information (and a little help from a grand unifying theory), the alien informs Jericho, almost dismissively, that the primary goal of modern science is to discover why God has behaved as he has and to determine his methods.

BONUS AUDIO: Author Robert J. Sawyer explains how the creationism vs. evolution debate informed the writing of Calculating God.

  • 2009 Audie Award Winner, Science Fiction/Fantasy

  • ©2000 by Robert J. Sawyer; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (2450 )
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4.2 (1799 )
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Performance
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  •  
    David A Ferraro 04-21-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Good idea but.."
    Any additional comments?

    I liked the concept but it did not have enough depth and seemed on sided. There were many scientific arguments given to the existence of a creator however the counter points were weak if they existed at all. Additionally only a cursory look was given to other moral and religious issues. I don’t think I would recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Apopka, Florida, United States 04-20-14
    Robert Apopka, Florida, United States 04-20-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Calculating Intelligent Design"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Listening time was well-spent, although I it was like sitting in church or a lecture at a Christian philosophy class.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Robert J. Sawyer again?

    I have already been tempted to download another of Sawyer's books.


    Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis and Robert J. Sawyer – was your favorite?

    My favorite character was the son, Ricky, as the most believable.


    Was Calculating God worth the listening time?

    Calculating God was definitely worth the listen, but it is in danger of insulting both atheists (or agnostics) and fundamental, young-earth Creationists.


    Any additional comments?

    Sawyer's characters have a small view of the divine, where God is simply as a transcended created being(s) from an earlier universe.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert van Nostrand Halifax, NS, Canada 04-20-14
    Robert van Nostrand Halifax, NS, Canada 04-20-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Touching and inspiring"
    What made the experience of listening to Calculating God the most enjoyable?

    The improbable setting and "Alien" stuff had me wondering in the beginning, but the story very masterfully has woven together science and religion in a both touching and inspiring journey.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Calculating God?

    The ending.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The gun fight.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Fascinating to reflect on the reality of travelling at or near the speed of light. in 400 years he outlived his wife and son.


    Any additional comments?

    Bravo

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Ottawa, ON, Canada 04-19-14
    Matthew Ottawa, ON, Canada 04-19-14

    Avid audiobook addict!

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    "Absolutely fascinating!"

    Very thought provoking. Extremely interesting premise. There are a couple of minor annoying flaws in the story (like many Canadian authors, this one feels compelled to make totally unnecessary local references--he must repeat the name "Mike Harris" (a Conservative Ontario premier from around 2000 who was much-hated by people with government-funded jobs because of cutbacks that massive numbers of non-government funded people deemed totally necessary) at least a dozen times--quite tiresome). All in all, though, an excellent book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Hall Olympia, WA United States 04-19-14
    Michael Hall Olympia, WA United States 04-19-14 Member Since 2013

    mtbikermike

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    "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"
    What did you like best about Calculating God? What did you like least?

    The narration was terrific - just the right pace, and terrific intonation. The story, however, was weak - incredibly slow and, frankly, a little insulting to the intelligence.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Robert J. Sawyer again?

    Maybe


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    If this book was intended to present an actual debate between "god" and "science," it didn't work - at least for me. I found the "god" arguments to be weak, and the "reasoning" behind the "calculating" to be non-existent. Mostly, however, I waited for something interesting to happen - and after five hours I gave up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ray West Deptford, NJ, United States 04-14-14
    Ray West Deptford, NJ, United States 04-14-14 Member Since 2013

    Retired Political Science professor from a community college. Especially like Legal Thrillers.

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    "Some Very deep calculations"
    Where does Calculating God rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book would be in the top twenty-five percent.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Hollis the alien.


    Have you listened to any of Jonathan Davis and Robert J. Sawyer ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This is my first one.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, it would be too much for one setting.


    Any additional comments?

    Sometimes if something is approached from an unusual angle, it can provide some interesting insights. The value of this book is in its insights and not in the story line. It represents a good synthesis of the God-Science Debate. Many things to ponder.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Schoharie, NY, United States 12-31-13
    Christopher Schoharie, NY, United States 12-31-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Not quite painful, but certainly tedious"
    What disappointed you about Calculating God?

    The characters were largely two dimensional and dull and the plot was utterly predictable. It was competently written in a grammatical sense, and the narrator did a good job at the reading, but beyond that there was little of interest in the book


    Has Calculating God turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Absolutely not, I love the genre, and for that matter, the specific theme. It's an interesting topic, but poorly executed.


    Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis and Robert J. Sawyer – was your favorite?

    The creator thing. It had no speaking part.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    frustration and disappointment, Between the reviews and the summary it seemed to have a lot of promise.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SaifenNasr LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 07-15-13
    SaifenNasr LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 07-15-13 Member Since 2014
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    "A review of Calculating God"
    What made the experience of listening to Calculating God the most enjoyable?

    Imagine an almost instant shift in scientific paradigm leading to a belief that the existence of God is scientific fact. What would that mean for those who cling tightly to notions of science as purely secular? What would that mean for those who see theism and religion as matters of pure faith? These are questions posited and masterfully turned in the mind of author Robert J. Sawyer in the book “Calculating God” . The value in Sawyer’s work is not only in the content but in the way the author is able to create an uncomfortable overturning of convention that affects all sides of the evolution vs. intelligent design debate. Sawyer is able to do so in a way that is humane rather than chauvinistic and creates the possibility for understanding between those holding extreme positions along the continuum. Secondarily, by obviating the debate as to whether the universe and all life in it was created by a God or just the proper alignment of scientific phenomena, Sawyer is able to ask questions rooted in the point of view that both things are true; the universe and all life in it was created by the proper alignment of scientific phenomena orchestrated by an intelligent creator. Is our creator omniscient? Can we hold our creator responsible for the fulfillment of each of our wishes and desires? Can we hold our creator to blame for the multiple catastrophes that befall us individually and on tremendous scales? How do we relate do such a creator? Do we need to? If so, then where do our responsibilities lie? These are not new questions for humanity. However in asking them Sawyer creates a sensitive, thought provoking, and at times heart wrenching narrative that is powerfully unique within today’s popular culture and media.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The arachnoid alien that came to meet Dr. Jericho was so surprisingly humane a character. This was such a pleaseant surprise.


    Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis and Robert J. Sawyer – was your favorite?

    Jericho made me reflect of what might have been going on in my mother's mind as she was dying of cancer.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me think many times of the loss of my mother to cancer and wonder how God's plan may have included it. Tears followed each time.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia A. Cross Cortland, NY, US 03-01-13
    Patricia A. Cross Cortland, NY, US 03-01-13
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    "RJ Sawyer ROCKS!"

    All of Robert's books are fantastic! I love how he uses science with a twist to enforce his tales.
    I expected Calculating God to be one sided. I came in with one expectation, and left unsure of how I think. I believe that meeting a being from another world would radically shake up our thoughts of God, but I did not expect the twist RJS puts on this.
    Well done!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Esther Mannum, Australia 09-16-12
    Esther Mannum, Australia 09-16-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Calculating GOD. Excellent Book"
    Would you listen to Calculating God again? Why?

    The narrators had a pleasant voices that were easy to listen to. The story was intricate and a second listen would help to understand some of the points more clearly. Also enjoyed listening so hearing it again would not be a problem.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The whole plot was intricate and thought provoking.


    Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis and Robert J. Sawyer – was your favorite?

    The main alien character was fascinating.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    There are Aliens and they believe GOD exists. He's just not the all benevolent being we think he is!


    Any additional comments?

    Would recommend this book to others to read and certainly to listen to.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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