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Mr g: A Novel About the Creation [Kindle Edition]

Alan Lightman
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“As I remember, I had just woken up from a nap when I decided to create the universe.”
So begins Alan Lightman’s playful and profound new novel, Mr g, the story of Creation as told by God. Barraged by the constant advisements and bickerings of Aunt Penelope and Uncle Deva, who live with their nephew in the shimmering Void, Mr g proceeds to create time, space, and matter. Then come stars, planets, animate matter, consciousness, and, finally, intelligent beings with moral dilemmas. Mr g is all powerful but not all knowing and does much of his invention by trial and error.

Even the best-laid plans can go awry, and Mr g discovers that with his creation of space and time come some unforeseen consequences—especially in the form of the mysterious Belhor, a clever and devious rival. An intellectual equal to Mr g, Belhor delights in provoking him: Belhor demands an explanation for the inexplicable, requests that the newly created intelligent creatures not be subject to rational laws, and maintains the necessity of evil. As Mr g watches his favorite universe grow into maturity, he begins to understand how the act of creation can change himself, the Creator.

With echoes of Calvino, Rushdie, and Saramago, combining science, theology, and moral philosophy, Mr g is a stunningly imaginative work that celebrates the tragic and joyous nature of existence on the grandest possible scale.

Editorial Reviews


“Just as he did with his incomparable Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman again surprises us with a work that is utterly original in both form and content. Mr g is a philosophical fable which is at turns hilarious and moving, rendered with a literary hand so deft that the weightiest metaphysical topics levitate into pure delight.” –Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
"It would not seem possible for Alan Lightman to match his earlier tour de force, Einstein's Dreams, but in Mr g he has done so—with wit, imagination, and transcendent beauty." –Anita Desai

From the Hardcover edition.


“A soulful riff on the birth and eventual demise of our universe…Lightman the humanist allows room for the compatibility of rationality with spirituality and mystery, while Lightman the scientist plays devil’s advocate with the partisans of Genesis, blinding them with logic.” –The New York Times Book Review

“Though Lightman’s clever irreverence recalls Salman Rushdie and Kevin Brockmeier, his plainspoken style lends the book a fitting earnestness…Readers who don’t mind the liberties the author takes with the sacred might enjoy this scienced fiction.” –Library Journal

“A scientific vision laced with the mirthful aura of divinity…aglow with wonder.” –Washington Post 

“Just as he did with his incomparable Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman again surprises us with a work that is utterly original in both form and content. Mr g is a philosophical fable which is at turns hilarious and moving, rendered with a literary hand so deft that the weightiest metaphysical topics levitate into pure delight.” –Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
"It would not seem possible for Alan Lightman to match his earlier tour de force, Einstein's Dreams, but in Mr g he has done so—with wit, imagination, and transcendent beauty." –Anita Desai

"Here is the creation of the Universe and the young Creator who grapples with what he has made—and ultimately with responsibility and loss…a gem of a novel that is strange witty erudite and alive with Lightman's playful genius." –Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

“The beautiful writing throughout this little gem of a book is an Alan Lightman trademark…delightful.” –Washington Times 

"This delightful novel takes the reader on a light hearted romp through the development of the universe from the Big Bang to its cold dark end, addressing along the way some of the big questions that inevitably arise from the development of intelligent life." –Jerome Friedman, Nobel Prize-winning physicist 

“It is a delightful, sensual mixture of the mundane and—and sometimes it's not clear which is which. It conveys the spirit, the ethos of modern physical thought, without saying explicitly that it is doing so (until the very end). It deals powerfully with some of the deepest issues of existence, ethics, and the human condition. I think I've never read a more compelling description of the beauty of the universe. Its irreverent awe is powerful. I loved it!” –Kip Thorne, author of Black Holes and Time Warps  

“A touching, imaginative rendition of God’s creation of the universe…the immortal characters are changed by their brush with the enterprising, however doomed, mortals, bringing this elucidating treatment of quantum physics to an affecting, hopeful conclusion.” –Publishers Weekly

“With iridescent precision, fairy-tale wonder, and brainy humor, Lightman crafts an enthralling and provocative cosmic parable that offers a startlingly fresh perspective on the mysteries of the universe and the paradoxical human condition.” –Booklist, starred review

“Lightman is able to write with the keen insight of a scientist and the lyricism of a poet…he brilliantly conveys a sense of the awesome power and mystery of the universe's origins. Whether you are a believer, an atheist or occupy some position in between, if you approach it with an open mind you are certain to find something worth pondering in this delightfully original novel. Who knew cosmology could be such a blast?” –Shelf Awareness    
“Concise but ambitious…unusual but often charming.” –New Yorker  
“A charming, comic explanation of how The Maker might have created the cosmos…if your philosophy allows for the possibility that science and faith in a creator can coexist, you’ll enjoy this clever and witty creation.” –Boston Globe  
“A playful but reverent story…The divine magic of this creation is science itself.” –The Daily Beast Must Read
“Highly original and thought-provoking…de Botton is a lively, engaging writer.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Lightman is fundamentally serious, not satirical, and his awed amazement at the universe is contagious…those who find science, poetry and religion a palatable mix will be delighted.” –Columbus Dispatch

Mr g bridges the gap between the things we know and the things we cannot know…Lightman has always had a crystalline prose style, and it’s very much on display in Mr g. The passages devoted to existence in the Void and to the beauty of the developing universe are delightfully lyrical…Lightman takes on the big metaphysical questions in his book with economy and clarity…Mr g is a brilliant, entertaining allegory, a book that creationists and atheists would find equally thought-provoking. Lightman has created a novel that is erudite and fun to read, and more likely to inspire discussion than dispute.” –Chapter 16 review

“Fans of Lightman’s popular previous novel, Einstein’s Dreams, will recognize the playful imagination behind [Mr g]…if you’re open-minded enough to consider the possibility that science and faith can coexist, you’ll enjoy ‘this clever and witty creation.’” –The Week 

“Profoundly inventive.” –

Lightman is a physicist, and the pyrotechnics involved in the creation of said universe are as dazzling as they are fascinating…The thing that makes it work is its refusal to take itself or its topics too seriously. It makes us think, yes but it also makes us laugh—and what’s more enlightening than a book that can make us laugh in mid-winter?” –KUER, Salt Lake City NPR

“Entertaining, clever, and well-written…Mr g is a delightful interplay of faith and science that ultimately renders science absolute but without reducing the human experience to only the material.” –Catholic Books Review

“This is a marvellous counterpoint to all of the other nonsense out there on creation. Lightman writes exquisitely, so this fable on the origin of space, time, matter and life is a wordfest that is securely pinned to the rational — making him a ‘magic realist’ of a refreshingly different stripe.” –Nature   
”A beautiful and philosophical fable that weaves the laws of quantum physics into a modern Genesis myth that will stick with a reader long after the book is put away.” –New York Journal of Books
“A fluent description of the cosmos based on the principles of quantum physics—a stunning, symmetrical light show of subatomic particles.” –The Wall Street Journal
“Lightman once again showcases his training as a theoretical physicist as well as his skill as a writer…What at first appears to be a whimsical story of the creation of the universe winds its way through thought-provoking questions with humor and sound science principles.” –NPR Morning edition 

“Food for thought…and discussion.” –Hudson Valley News
“Thought-provoking fiction…With echoes of Calvino, Rushdie, and Saramago, combining science, theology, and moral philosophy, Mr g is a stunningly imaginative work that celebrates the tragic and joyous nature of existence on the grandest possible scale.” –B&N Tuesday Nook Blog
“I must say, I am a huge fan of his work, God and Lightman…this novel is very clever. Although it is small, it packs in a lot of thought and imagination.” –
“Bold… Lightman suavely weaves theology grounded in science and moral philosophy and alights on evolution of matter, consciousness, spirituality and existential crises.” –Miami Herald 

“Delightfully intriguing…a small novel with immensely imaginative ideas.” –Arcadiana

Product Details

  • File Size: 882 KB
  • Print Length: 225 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 030737999X
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 24, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317,324 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Concept! January 5, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I found this to be a profound and conceptually well thought out book. It addresses both the fundamental physics of creation and the philosophical implications of a creator. Mr. g has lingered in The Void with his aunt and uncle for eternity and decides to create the universe. This concept is a simple and enduring one, but his own attitude towards his creation is initially ambivalent. He starts with some basic organizational principals, then produces time, space, quantum physics and matter. From there the universe develops on its own within the premise of cause and effect. What Mr. g doesn't realize is that a product of his design is Belhor, an entity within The Void that can interfere in the universe but is also immortal and powerful in his own right. Not the devil per se, but an intellectual sparring partner who questions Mr. g's motives and his grand design. As Mr. g contemplates his creation and the ideas that Belhor presents to him, he becomes more sympathetic to his animate matter and its suffering.

The writing is wonderful and allows the enormity of the universe to be accessible. Lightman depicts various worlds that have developed throughout the universe and how diverse conditions allow for countless species to evolve. He also does a fantastic job describing the vastly infinite nothingness of The Void.

For such a small book, it gave me a lot to think about. The notion of eternity, the physicality of myself, and the duality of good and evil are all heavy concepts, but Lightman's effective use of physics makes these ideas manageable. It is not mind blowing, but definitely thought provoking.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For whom? February 4, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
With all due respect for Alan Lightman, whose earlier works I have admired and enjoyed, I have to say that at about 30 pages into Mr g, I began to wonder who in the world he supposed might be the audience for this work? As I progressed, that feeling only deepened. Yes, there are passages of very beautiful, lyrical writing, points at which Mr g seems overtaken by something like "rapture of the deep" as he contemplates the wondrous beauty and complexity, and especially the orderliness, of his creation. In those passages, one experiences the kind of passion that a scientist must feel when exploration opens into a new and profound perception and understanding, the kind of beauty that a mathematician appreciates in a really elegant proof or that a biologist or physicist must experience when a formerly messy conglomeration suddenly reveals (through the complex interaction of human brain and things perceived) its inherent order.

This novel is obviously ambitious and, at the same time, intellectually playful in ways that would seem to make it a real delight for a reader looking for the pleasure of a genuine merging of science and poetry. I was quickly reminded of Italo Calvino's great Cosmicomics (especially during the first conversations among Mr g and his aunt, Penelope (classical tradition?) and uncle, Deva (Sanskrit tradition?), but the surface similarities with Calvino's work quickly dissipate as the weaknesses in this work are repeated. Whole sections of the novel read and sound like the kind of prose narrative one might have encountered when I was in high school--film strips about the wonders of the universe, about our friends, the atoms, about the thrilling varieties of life forms and inanimate forms.
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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unoriginal story of creation December 31, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The first-person account of creation has told by many talented science fiction writers, including Robert Sheckley, Philip Jose Farmer and Arthur C. Clarke, and some literary authors like Archibald MacLeish. Most of these are dark and humorous short stories, filled with thought-provoking unorthodox theological insights and references to traditional religious beliefs.

Mr g is a very very long short story. It is not so much dark as empty, the universe is created by a bored and shallow creator, and has no meaning. It is one of a very large number of universes. It is experimental, and illustrates Arthur C. Clarke's famous line, "It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him." The creator is surprised by the emergence of consciousness and begins to get a dim sense of morality from watching his creations. He likes to hum tunes the creatures invent and bask in the beauty of their architecture.

This is a pale imitation of the best works in the genre. Four characters are introduced to provide humor, all fall flat. This is a humorless account and throwing in a few zany meaningless incidents doesn't change that. Instead of references to serious works on the subject, Mr g tosses in a few words from Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit and Medieval versions of European languages that are supposed to sound deep.

I found the story in the book unsatisfying. This creator answers no big questions. He exists eternally, and doesn't question that existence, which removes the single best reason to speculate about creation--why isn't there nothing? He lives in the "Void" a place that is described as totally empty, yet it seems filled with "wisps of nothingness" than can be used to comb hair, make dresses, stairs and even fully-furnished castles.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an absolutely terrific book and so well-imagined I hated to finish it. I immediately wanted to read more from Mr. Lightman. Read more
Published 2 months ago by V V Saichek
3.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant trifle
This is an enjoyable read with a loopy cast of characters and glimpses of whimsy and even depth.
At one point, the author falls into fairly tedious theodicy, but for the most... Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. M. Walker
1.0 out of 5 stars Very shallow and us satisfying
I enjoyed his previous book about Einstein's dreams but in this one, Mr Leichtman spins his impressive knowledge about statistics, material compositions and the great magnitude of... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Theizzy
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoying it.
I am enjoying reading it but somethings I would like to talk with the author about as how could the void have things in it?
Published 4 months ago by Barbara Young
5.0 out of 5 stars A Novel Novel
The more I read, the more I loved this "novel novel." Mr. Lightman develops a scientifically accurate portrayal of the creation of the multiverse, but does so from the perspective... Read more
Published 9 months ago by M. Roeder
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I'd hoped
This story, a novel about the creation of the universe, is written by a scientist. I was fascinated by the idea and seeing how the author took the idea of the creator figure... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ignite
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic work of science
I love Alan Lightman's work. This particular book was no exception. He managed to elicit a tremendous amount of beauty and emotion regarding purely scientific laws of nature. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Christopher Hein
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book
If you're a fan of Alan Lightman - or even if you aren't - this book is a must read. One of the most thought-provoking novels I've come across in a few years. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Aungrl
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Alan Lightman combines his trademark brand of magic realism and references to fascinating scientific developments in this tale of universe creators. An entertaining read.
Published 11 months ago by A. Jogalekar
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, imaginative, witty
I found Mr. g to be so entertaining and so funny in spots, and so reverently irreverent. I think Alan Lightman says he is not a believer in God like what I would say I am, so I... Read more
Published 13 months ago by weeziebear
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More About the Author

Alan Lightman, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences since 1996, is adjunct professor of humanities at MIT. He is the author of several books on science, including "Ancient Light: Our Changing View of the Universe" (1991) and "Origins: The Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists" (with R. Brawer, 1990). His works of fiction include "Einstein's Dreams" (1993), "The Diagnosis" (2000), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and, most recently, "Reunion" (2003).

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