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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 (2050 )
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4.2 (1437 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Marilyn 05-12-12
    Marilyn 05-12-12

    I read all the time, or nearly. I always have, I guess, since I was very young ... and now, getting older, more audio than any other medium.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The author as devil's advocate"

    Robert Sawyer, the avowed and usually stridently atheistic author, reverses his previous position and writes a book proving that a theory of "intelligent creation" is not incompatible with a belief in evolution and science ... a position I have always held. I know that today's political climate demands that you take one side or the other, but I have never felt that the two positions were inherently antithetical. And so, reversing his position 180 degrees, Sawyer puts forth a fine case for intelligent creation.

    I would have given it five stars, but the end of the book seemed a bit out of left field to me ... and didn't feel like it "fit" with the rest of the story. But I'm picky and maybe it won't bother you.

    Regardless, I really enjoyed this a lot. It's much more of a personal essay as science fiction than any of his other books, but I loved his reasoning, his characters -- human and alien. Make sure to listen to the author's introduction.

    No matter which side of the God-Versus-Science you are on, this is a thought-provoking and well-written book. Agree or disagree, it's definitely worth your time!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron Sydney, Australia 04-01-09
    Ron Sydney, Australia 04-01-09 Member Since 2008

    Literary graduate and published columnist turned glorified grease monkey.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brilliant"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this. I was a bit sceptical at first but was quickly converted to an avid listener. I found myself sneaking away from work to continue the story. Sawyer manages to give both a subjective and objective argument on creationism versus evolution from the point of view of both a human AND an alien. I can understand there might be some ideas that could upset some people, but I loved the idea of an alien scientist bringing us some form of proof that God exists. And I'm an aetheist!!!
    Yes very well written, and very well delivered.
    A must read for all thinkers.

    37 of 46 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 06-12-14
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 06-12-14 Member Since 2010

    Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Deus Ex Machina"

    Imagine an argument with great links missing from its logical chain. Then imagine simply inventing links of fact to fill the gaps... Links fit into place with welds blended and blurred by strong emotional distractions.

    A deus ex machina is a literary or sophist trick... an ancient device that Wikipedia defines as a seemingly unsolvable problem which is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object.

    Robert J. Sawyer does that here in Calculating God... quite enchantingly. He "proves" the case for diesim by... well I use the word enchantingly in a couple of its meanings. It is much like a fascinating fairy tale that absorbs and charms you. And it is also a magical yarn that fits as well into the realm of fantasy as sci-fi. Indeed, it's an ingenious blend which proves nothing yet, seems to. Uh-huh, here the "calculations" and the "proof" are just like a guy suddenly and abruptly whipping a rabbit from a hat.

    He does it so well, you forget that he's contrived to bring both a certain kind of hat, baggy-sleeved jacket, and well... his own unexpected rabbit.

    Sawyer's good. And while you're enjoying this "calculatiion" ignore the man behind the curtain. There's nothing to see there... Just move along past :-)

    Oh, and Jonathan Davis, or whoever... reads the book ... um... enchantingly.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Moore Springfield, IL 04-14-14
    Anthony Moore Springfield, IL 04-14-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Makes you think, and that's a good thing."
    Where does Calculating God rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Easily in my top 10 favorite books, possibly top 5 so far.


    What other book might you compare Calculating God to and why?

    It's really hard to say because it's so original and thought provoking.


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

    Hollus was my favorite


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The conversation's between the alien and atheist about religion.


    Any additional comments?

    My favorite quote from the book was, "Honor does not have to be defended."

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth Burnsville, MN, United States 04-10-14
    Ruth Burnsville, MN, United States 04-10-14 Member Since 2007
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    "Something for atheists, agnostics, and believers"
    Would you listen to Calculating God again? Why?

    I do listen to it about once a year. Very engaging characters and it comes at an issues in such an unexpected way and treats most involved respectfully.


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

    SPOILER alert When the protagonist realizes Hollis is female.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Helsingborg, Sweden 03-27-14
    Jan Helsingborg, Sweden 03-27-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Interesting and unusual"

    There are some books that take me a bit by surprise. Their beginning is not what I expected, and that is true for both of the books I have read so far by Robert J. Sawyer including this one. And I have liked the endings as well. A good sign!

    The beginning of this book sounds like the beginning of a joke: An alien walks into a museum in Canada...

    And yes, the book has its funny moments, but that's not the central theme. Instead, we get a different kind of perspective through the eyes of a human being, whose life changes when he's face to face with a visitor from another world – with a surprise or two. Fully enjoyable and very interesting.

    Some SPOILERS below.

    I read some reviews of this book before I read it myself and half expected it to be Intelligent Design propaganda or at least leading the reader to believe in a god. And yes, god and design are parts of the story, but not in a way that makes in unbearable. Rather, they made sense. The only thing that bothered me was the main characters refusal to see what was obvious, as if the author wanted to show us that atheists will not accept a proof of god, no matter how scientific it is.

    Does there exist a god? Did he/she/it create the (current) universe? The book implies it, but it's not a god of the Bible or the Quran. So don't mistake this book as an advertisement for any particular faith.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel 02-16-13
    Daniel 02-16-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Fascinating journey with great narration"

    I am not religious nor am I an atheist. But the book gave me much to think of within the constrains of it’s Universe.

    A critical thinker gets all the “facts” he demand to question whether or not there is a God in Calculating God. I really appriciated the journey and the thought experiments.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D Indian Wells, CA, USA 01-02-13
    D Indian Wells, CA, USA 01-02-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Intelligent yet goofy"
    Would you try another book from Robert J. Sawyer and/or Jonathan Davis and Robert J. Sawyer ?

    Yes


    Would you recommend Calculating God to your friends? Why or why not?

    It's a good read and provokes thought in a direction I don't normally go


    What does Jonathan Davis and Robert J. Sawyer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I enjoyed the variety of characters and dialects


    Do you think Calculating God needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Sure. It's a good topic to explore. But the whole end of the universe may be a challenge.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronn BRENTWOOD, TN, United States 12-27-12
    Ronn BRENTWOOD, TN, United States 12-27-12
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    "A most unexpected treat"

    Aliens have come to Earth, not to destroy us but to...compare notes about God? If you think this is a crazy and untenable basis for a novel then you probably aren't familiar with Robert Sawyer. This book is a fascinating, action-packed, though-provoking romp that is simply too good to spoil in a review. Spend the credit and find out for yourself!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 02-21-12
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 02-21-12 Member Since 2010

    SamanthaG

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    "Loved this Sci-Fi"

    So a spider-like alien arrives at the door of a museum in Ontario and asks to see a paleontologist.....What a way to open a novel. This was a totally enjoyable listen. The author was able to create empathy for the aliens. I totally loved the personality of Hollus - who wouldn't? Despite the spider-like looks, what a likable being! And the other alien species, the Reeds (?), whose language sounds like tumbling rocks. Very clever. Enjoyed the premise and the story - which of course requires a "willing suspension of disbelief"- but if you're willing, it's wonderful.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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