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)
Excellent presentation. The storyline was well thought out and is an interesting departure from the usual ET encounter. I would recommend it.
good story and interesting however mostly a story about a fight within ones consciousness. The only hard part to deal with is space travel without gene manipulation.
Didn't read the print version. Only listened to the audiobook.
Hearing the alien logic for the existence of God as explained by the alien. Given the events that take place in the book's universe, it is all very well laid out and logical. Flips the normal sci-fi trope of the atheist scientist convincing the religious person of the non-existence of God on it's head. Very entertaining.
Possibly the alien coming over to dinner. Learning the logistics of it all was entertaining.
For the first 1/2 to 2/3 of the book I could not stop listening. Then it sort of loses its magic towards the end.
The terrorism sub plot does not fit with the rest of the book. It's just a distraction and has no real relevance to the overall plot.
Robert J. Sawyer isn’t one of those authors who is intimidatingly good at writing prose. In fact, he’s one of those authors that I could see myself someday becoming. His strength is in the really great premise and compelling dialog. Calculating God has some of the most interesting dialog I’ve read since The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. The premise is even more compelling; a deistic alien comes down to earth to compare notes with an atheist paleontologist to compare notes on extinction events and end up in a great debate on intelligent design. This is a book for those that love good dialog and interesting debates. It will likely challenge you regardless of what side of the debate you are on.
From the moment that Hollus the alien landed in the plaza of the Royal Ontario Museum and strolled in to see a paleontologist, I was hooked. The book had a little of everything, humor, pathos and as with all of Sawyer's books, a lot of science but never dull. I've read most of his books, and this one is right up there with his trilogies. A really fun read.
This book definitely rivals 2001 by A.C. Clark, with a great story line and a bit science intermingled with the story ...
Hollis - "This side up" .. Ha.
The description of the supernova.
Love books and love to put in my two cents' worth
Maybe my expectations were unrealistic - I was looking forward to reading this book, but it's a redundant academic tome that gave me nothing.
This might be the second most important book one will ever hear. It isn't the best story - it is a great story, but not "the best ever"; it's value is in making important points about the scarcity of life. I was immediately captivated by it and went out and bought the hardcopy to give to my kids.
This would be like updating, then blending, Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with C.S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet. Sawyer uses very lighthearted tones to illustrate deep ideas.
Jonathan Davis nailed the attitude of Hollus.
I did more yardwork because I kept listening to this. I also intend to listen to it again in a few months.
There were some laugh-out-loud scenes early in this book. That is all I can say about them. My physicist and computer-engineering friends will probably love it, too.
"A Thoroughly Good 'Read'"
I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. I found it to be well constructed, thought provoking, well paced with many unfolding layers and contexts. The story begins simply enough with an alien landing on earth to talk to a palaeontologist. The focus of the collaboration between alien and human is initially about whether or not God exists and the creation of the Universe. The early part of the story recounts the debates that develop between the two parties, each maintaining an opposite point of view. As the story unfolds however, the focus subtly and gradually shifts from this a discussion, to an exploration of the relationships between the characters in the book. We learn about the palaeontologist, his world and family, and about the alien's world and family. We witness the bond of friendship growing between both individuals. The story continues to expand, and weaves in as a part of the plot, some of the current forces which are occurring in our society. The development of the plot in this way adds a real thriller element to the story, as well as maintaining the interest and pace of the book.
Overall the book explores some fascinating hypotheses about life and it's existence, the rise and fall of species and civilisations, the structure and nature of civilisations depending on what their thought structure is based upon, life and death of an individual at a personal and an inter-relational context. It also throws in some fascination facts about the Universe in which we exist.
A most thought provoking, interesting and engaging "read". In essence it is a real 'human story' with an unexpected twist at the end. I still find myself thinking about some of the ideas, concepts and hypotheses presented in the story.
"a good, or is that god, thought experiment"
I really found the idea of this book interesting at first so decided to give it a go. If you have ever thought much about evolution and creationism I think you will find it entertaining. There was almost a retro feel to the aliens in this book, not sure why, but they just seemed like that? But for the price it was certainly worthwhile and really quite enjoyable. I will be getting a few more of these titles.
"Enjoyable read, but..."
Skip the first 2' 45'' or so. The authors introduction, in my opinion, takes away from the story.
"enjoyable, informative and makes you question"
I bought this after having listened to other books by this author.
If you try to explain the story to anyone they will think you are mad for listening to it and that it must be a boring book, but the story line is not only entertaining but also informative. Sawyer is very clever in the way he weaves true science into his stories and I find myself wanting to know and understand more about the science. At times I go back to listen to to certain areas again and I think I would now like to actually read the book.
I am writing this review before I have finished listening to the book, but I cannot recommend it highly enough. I am enjoying the story, the science and the questions it makes me ask myself. It is based on creationism but Sawyer makes you question eveything and deosn't preach. I am enjoying the book so much that I bought the actual book for a friend who is a staunch catholic because I wanted her ideas to be questioned.
All I would say is listen with an open mind and try to follow the science rather than being put off. It is deffinately a book I will listen to many times and that is very unsual for me.
"I don't regret listening to it, but..."
The story is well written, and well read, and some of the details of alien biology / behaviour I thought were brilliant. I commend the author for writing this book, I am glad it exists, and would recommend it!
BUT, and for me this is a **massive** but, the main human character - the paleontologist - is rubbish at his job! He is likeable and quite a decent person, decently enough written etc, but he seems to not actually know much about evolution! I feel he is quite poorly researched, granted the book was written in 2000 and I am inclined to give the author the benefit of the doubt that the information we have at our disposal these days was not available to a lay audience back then... though I suspect I am just trying too hard to defend him, because I did like quite a bit about the book.
I think anyone armed with a copy of Dawkins' books, The Greatest Show on Earth, and God Delusion, would blow the vast majority of the arguments out of the water (see spoilers below for more detail) AND be left with a better knowledge of evolution than the protagonist!
And the early misuse of the Occam's Razor made me cringe!
Overall a good book, just seriously hindered by the author's research, or lack thereof
Potential spoilers below - but important clarifications
I said that Dawkins' books would blow the "majority" of the arguments out of the water, because some, indeed the only good ones are based on alien knowledge, ie the author's imagination.
Also the Paleontologist seems to have an intellectual crisis over whether or not evolution is true, even though what the alien tells him is compatible with evolution by natural selection! The 'god' the alien has 'proof' of is not one I recognise from any bible passage I have read ;)
I also suspect that the research regarding certain astronomical events is also lacking, but I know less about that area.
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