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)
This book had a lot of interesting ideas, but I think some reviewers have misrepresented it significantly.
Firstly -- SPOILER ALERT -- this book does NOT argue against evolution. It doesn't even argue for the existence of an omnipotent or omniscient God. In fact, the aliens specifically believe that "God" is neither all-powerful nor all-knowing. So the book is almost as likely to annoy the religious as the non-religious, assuming that they are paying attention.
I don't agree with all the arguments in the book, but it does discuss interesting questions. For instance -- if there is a God, what is his/her nature? If God did design the universe, then WHY did he/she do so? Why does God allow evil (disease, death, etc.) to occur? And so on. You don't have to believe the same things as the characters in order to enjoy thinking about the questions.
IMHO the narration and tone of the book were excellent -- light enough to not be maudlin, serious enough to feel the suffering, humorous enough to avoid taking itself too seriously. The book isn't perfect, but it is quite an enjoyable listen.
"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them." --Lemony Snicket
I don't normally delve into the Sci-Fi & Fantasy genre, but took a chance on Calculating God and really enjoyed it. (And by 'took a chance', I mean it was selected by a member of the Audible book club I was in at the time, so I felt I had to listen to it.) But Jonathan Davis' performance really blew me away here, and I was completely absorbed in Sawyer's smart, funny, and thought-provoking storytelling.
There are a lot of critisisms of this book in these comments, first let me just say that I enjoyed it, simply that, I didnt love it, hate it, agree or disagree with its ideas or plot. It is a very well written book, with some surprisingly simple and yet very indepth characters, in other words, these people could be real, they are not special in any way, they are normal, and that lends the story its credibility. I read other reviews disagreeing with actions taken by extremists, agencies, offices, and commitees in the book, and I just want to say, while the actions seem dumb, unreal, or just outside the realm of what you would expect smart people to do stupidly, please just remember the line from "Men in Black" - ""Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it."". I would recommend this book very much, I got it looking for the absurd, and the comedic, I found neither of those things, I found intelligence and understanding, both terrestial and non, mostly from it's author.
A science fiction fan for as long as I can remember but I also enjoy history (fact and fiction) and humor.
Robert Sawyer's Calculating God was a runner-up for the Hugo Award in 2001 and, having listened to this audiobook version, I again am forced to wonder why it didn't win. The story is not typical SF; a scientist is confronted by advanced aliens who have proof of God's existence. In less capable hands this story could have become a farce, but Mr Sawyer delivers a story which deals with very human issues of faith and mortality. It is compelling and, in several respects more than a little disconcerting.
The reading, as with all of the Audible Frontiers stories I've heard, is excellent. Robert Sawyer's introduction is interesting although probably would have been a better epilogue (he gives away a few things). The reading by Jonathan Davis is well paced and clear throughout.
If you're not familiar with Robert Sawyer's writings (and there are many now available on Audible) this would be a good story to start with.
What a fascinating story - unique, thought-provoking and thoroughly absorbing. Loved the narration, too.
It was interesting, thought provoding (over and over again), creative and captured my interest right away. I found myself wondering what new idea or concept he would introduce next.
There were so many. Perhaps when the main character considered his options for extending his life.
My favorite character was probably Hollis. Robert uses our visiting Alien to easily introduce many new ideas and ways of looking at things. I love getting to know him (her :) and all of her human / non-human qualities.
The final moments when Holis and the main character go their separate ways I realized
Sawyer does a wonderful job of educating (with interesting facts and observations) and also creates a mileau in which we find ourselves somewhat confortably questionning many, perhaps long held, assumptions about god, evolution, other forms of life. This book was so interesting, creative, stimulating and full of rich and varied feelings that my wife and I plan to listen to it again.
I am a fan of Sawyer's Neanderthal Parallax, so I went into this with an open mind, but also high expectations.
I will not admit to being swayed from my personal belief that there is no God. However, Sawyer makes a really interesting case for the possibility -- with a lot of math/science backing him up. He also helped me to understand how science and faith might find common ground.
I doubt believers will be satisfied with Sawyer's logic, but I think it could make the non-believers think twice. I suspect many more of us will read this book anyway.
Sawyer takes care to wrap personal human/alien drama around these complex ideas to make them easier to understand. And, if you overlook the simplicity of the plot, the concepts discussed in this book are definitely worth hearing if not study.
I did not learn to read until I was in my twenties. Have not stopped since. The two most important things to learn are reading & chess.
When ever I like a book enough to buy the hard copy I give the book 5 stars. I bought three copies, one for my bookshelf, and one each, for my son and sister. The book is very thought provoking. I know it will cause us to have some good discussions.
The narration by Jonathan Davis was wonderful and easy listening.
Honestly, I have not read any science fiction before. I enjoy "Calculation God" so I researched Sawyer's other books. I just finished listening to his novel "Hominids". I believe he won the Hugo Award for this book. It is also very enjoyable.
Thanks to Sawyer I have become a fan of science fiction.
Davis also narrates Hominids and again it was very well done.
This is the first book I read from Robert Sawyer and definitely not my last. The author explores a topic most are afraid to write about. He does an excellent job showing both sides of the coin. Religious/moral beliefs and science blend well in this thought provoking book.
As this was my first introduction to Sawyer I had no preconceived notions about his themes or style. I think that perspective actually enhanced my enjoyment of this novel. As some others have said about this book, it is very thought provoking. However, I would also add that the book has a very emotional resonance with anyone that has children and or close family. Although you discover in the very first of this book what it is about--or more precisely, what you think it is about--the story continues to evolve to the end. Is it a classic sci-fi story, a mystery, a theological debate, a history lesson, or a crime drama? I think it is all of the above.
I want to also give credit to Jonathan Davis. There are few narrators (Jim Dale being another) who really bring you into the story like he does. I really feel like I knew the characters of the book. Excellent work, thank you Mr. Davis.
As a life-long fan of sci-fi, I have never experienced a story like this.
If after listening to this book you don't at least spend a few minutes reevaluating your core beliefs, then you missed the point...
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