[Home][Creativity][Genres][Resources][About Us]

[Fantasy][Horror][Science Fiction][Western]

[Audio][Books][Film][Stories]

--------------------------------------------------------------------

[About Amazon.ca] [About Amazon.com] [About Amazon.co.uk]
In association with Amazon.ca. In association with Amazon.com. In association with Amazon.co.uk.

Calculating God

[Calculating God] Calculating God
by Robert J. Sawyer
Tor Books, 2000
Amazon.ca: hardcover, paperback
Amazon.com: hardcover, paperback
Amazon.co.uk: hardcover, paperback
Suggested by: Greg Slade

An alien shuttlecraft lands outside the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. An alien emerges, and asks to see, not Earth's leaders, but a palaeontologist. Thus, Sawyer begins a story leavened with humour, and not a few digs at politicians and other people impressed with their own importance. Former Ontario Premier Mike Harris gets roasted, but he is far from the only victim of Sawyer's wit. (But don't fret, there's plenty of good old-fashioned "sensawunda", too.)

Christians might get excited about this book when they hear that the aliens have scientific proof of the existence of God. Certainly, Sawyer brings out the "argument from design" and does it a good deal of justice. However, this book should not be confused with any sort of Christian apologetic. Sawyer's "god" isn't interested in worship, morality, or any sort of relationship. In fact, it has nothing in common with the gods of any religion, except for the historical fact of being responsible for bringing about life, and specifically intelligent life, on Earth and other planets. Sawyer's "god" has an agenda of its own, and people (of whatever species) are simply means to that end. In fact, just as much as he brings out the "argument from design", Sawyer also brings out reasons people give for not believing in God: notably the problem of pain. In fact, this book is not so much a defence of God, but a complaint against Him. Like most supposed "proofs" of the non-existence of God, the story seems to boil down to, "If there is a God, I sure don't like the way He's running things." (I should probably also mention that, Mike Harris aside, the most identifiable "bad guys" in the book are a couple of pro-life, creation science terrorists, who make a habit of blowing up abortion clinics and museum exhibits. They're vicious, they're not too bright, and they're armed. I don't think most Christians would feel flattered by the portrayal.)

Theology aside, how does the story work? The characterisation is good, and Sawyer is certainly imaginative. He also knows how to tell a story, with good use of foreshadowing, tension, and so forth. However, to me, the book was ultimately unsatisfying, because even though the characters witness amazing things, and learn (or at least guess) what the universe is all about, the knowledge isn't useful. All the characters the reader has come to care about wind up with miserable fates, wiser, maybe, but certainly no happier. I'm not one of those who insist on fairy-tale endings, but I would have preferred it if somebody had gained some tangible benefit out of all the knowledge gained, if for no other reason than to give the message that science is a worthwhile endeavour. (February, 2005)

--------------------------------------------------------------------

[Home][Creativity][Genres][Resources][About Us]

[Fantasy][Horror][Science Fiction][Western]

[Audio][Books][Film][Stories]

[Home] [Creativity] [Genres] [Resources] [About Us]

[Fantasy] [Horror] [Science Fiction] [Western]

[Audio] [Books] [Film] [Stories]