140 of 153 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2011
***Spoiler Alert*** I am prefacing this review with a spoiler alert mainly because I will probably come off sounding like a spoil-sport as I give this book a slightly less glowing review than the vast majority already posted.
A major theme of the "story" appears to be faith and patience and we are brow-beaten with it from very early on in the book. I suppose it is fitting, then, that attempting to read this book is a major exercise in faith and patience. Faith in the author that there is a story buried in there somewhere and patience to wait for him to finally get around to it. I finally lost both just shy of the half-way point in the book. I was about to pack it in a third of the way through the book but the author finally hit an actual plot point and revealed a general direction for the story. Up to that point the author had been doing character development and leading us through a year in the life of four of the characters while he set up various sub plots. Unfortunately his characters are one dimensional: (SPOILER) the rich tech manager whose marriage fell apart and lost his job and sank into drugs and strippers, the "damaged" and rebellious teen who just happens to be a math super-genius, the beautiful physicist who is passionate about the purity of science and the greedy and sleazy lawyer. Even after spending a third of the book developing the characters they still came off as more caricature than character and I found myself not caring about any of them. After the first plot point is revealed I continued reading, hoping the pace would pick up. Instead I was introduced to a new group of characters that had to be developed. Mercifully, these characters were given a little less backstory and development and I was treated to a second plot point before I finally gave up, not quite half way through the book.
The overall tone of the book seems heavy handed and preachy. I kept checking Amazon to see if this book was listed as some type of sub-genre of Christian science fiction but I could not find anything. (SPOILER(again)) My last impression was that the high-tech start-up run by the ultra-conservative Christian group was going to be the home of the bad guys. But what the final message of the story would be still eluded me. And I lacked the faith and patience to find out.
Based on the number of 5-star reviews this book has received, the author has obviously found an audience. And I applaud him for that. Unfortunately for me, I am not his target audience.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2010
I quickly found myself engrossed in this book. I got that deja vu feeling (all over again) akin to what I felt the first time I picked up a John Grisham novel. Only this book has a science/consciousness angle instead of a legal beagle angle. You can tell that Ransom spent time as a particle physicist just as you can tell that Grisham spent time as a lawyer. The results are that the books feel authentic. They also keep the cast of characters to a handful. It turns out to be a nice little read. It also enticed my to purchase Feynman's Lecture (3 volume set) but that may not be everyone's cup of tea! One last note, be a great book to turn into a movie!
37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2013
OK: Where am I coming from? I was born 'in the field' as my hardcore evangelical missionary parents would say, and stayed in the church until about 18. I have recently retired from 50 years as a patent attorney after working for some years in San Jose but mostly in Australia, firstly for the country's largest R&D organisation and then in my own practice. I have been subscribing to Scientific American for 60 years and to New Scientist for decades, and I have read all the non-specialist writings of Richard Feynman that I can find, plus a bunch of biographies of him. While I read very little fiction, I was intrigued by the free summary, so bought the book. And, it did not disappoint – at first.
Setting: Ryan McNear is a software jock expert in neural networks. He has a great job in Silicon Valley, a good wife and much loved teenage son, only to lose all to drugs after meeting a hooker at the buck’s night of his good work-buddy Foster Reed. Though he gets off drugs he cannot pay support, his wife slaps restraining orders on him preventing him from contacting his son and he leaves California a wanted man. Before all this and in much happier days Ryan and Foster decide to cash in on their employer’s incentive scheme to encourage patent filings. It’s a great lark, each being confident of pulling the scientific wool over the eyes of both their employer and the Patent Office thereby winning the cash bonuses. Foster writes up a scheme for harvesting quantum vacuum energy using a particle collider and Ryan writes up a method that allows genetic / adaptive improvement of multiple neural nets working in tandem. Ryan’s invention can be used to run Foster’s collider. The buddies work collaboratively, are listed as joint inventors on each application and, in surprisingly quick time, the patents and bonuses are issued. Oh: Foster is an evangelical Christian and Ryan is Catholic by birth but is not religious. Foster suggests his collider can harvest spiritual energy; Ryan plays along saying his optimized coupled neural nets can generate a soul.
The action starts when penniless Ryan rents a room from a dodgy (disbarred?) lawyer Dodge Nutter and signs over any residual right he may have in the patents (his only asset) as surety. Fellow lodgers are a crazy woman and her disadvantaged, rebellious but bright 12 year old daughter, Kat. Dodge investigates the patents and finds they have been sold to an Evangelical University where Foster is now a professor and where a big development project is underway that is touting for industry funding. We learn that Dodge has a sister – Emmy Nutter – who is also a physics professor with expertise in quantum mechanics; a non-believer who considers Foster’s patent rubbish. Dodge thinks there are flaws in Ryan’s assignment of the patents and smells a dollar. The atmosphere in the evangelical university is well described and it is clear that Foster has sold the project to management. A meeting is set up for ‘the Nutters’ to make the sting. So far, so good!
From here the story falls apart. Too many diversionary rabbits are set running. There are long ‘love interest’ detours involving Ryan and Emmy. Much completely unnecessary effort is devoted to portraying (most unconvincingly) Kat as a mathematical genius of at least the same stature as the mature Feynman, and certainly the equal of Emmy. We have a detailed diversion into the US State alimony systems as Ryan works toward seeing his son again, though it must be said that this bit is interesting and well written. The sting is forgotten and the book ends with a long, new-agey metaphysical ramble about Kat’s take on the soul in Ryan’s neural nets.
[Now, why give the surname ‘Nutter’ to a couple of smart good guys? OK, Emmy was modeled on Amolie Noether, a remarkable Jewish mathematician but that does not dictate Nutter. The rest of the English speaking world reads ‘nutter’ as ‘screwball’.]
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2013
Pleasant but not real deep story despite a ton of physics and religion. It just fails to please. I made it through because the characters are interesting enough, and the plot seems like it might become exciting several times... But like the main character, it charts a mediocre and ultimately unsatisfying course through the meaning of life.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2010
This was an interesting and thoughtful read that combines science and religion. Ryan McNear and Foster Reed are hot shot engineers during the dot com boom and subsequently write two patents that forever change their lives. One patent is a rewrite of Genesis so to speak and is a design o create energy from nothing - as in Genesis. The other patent is an algorithm for the soul. Ransom Stephens includes a bit of simple quantum physics mixed with artificial intelligence and religion, begging the question: Can they be reconciled? There were some interesting ideas postulated in this story. I also really enjoyed the vivid characters Stephens paints. I really enjoyed getting to know Ryan and Kat. They are quite an unlikely pair, but it really works in the book. I think the characters are the best part about this novel. There was also a small twist at the end that I didn't see coming. All in all, it's enjoyable and thought provoking.
44 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2013
It's a rare book that pisses me off so badly that I delete it from my Kindle after only a day. The God Patent achieved it with me making it through only 1/4 of the book. This is NOT science fiction. It's some kind of evangelical spoof of what a scientist does and is. The author very obviously had a message (Good News?) that he needed to share with the atheistic scientific community. And share it he does. Page after page after page.
If you're looking for well-written science fiction, stay far away from The God Patent. If, OTOH, you love your religion in megachurch-sized doses and really don't care about plot or pacing, this may be the book for you.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2011
I enjoyed this book cover to cover. The story is interesting, the characters are well developed, the science is fascinating. All in all a very good read.
The story and characters are the strength of this book. The characters came to life in my imagination, and I was always interested in what would happen next. The science and spirituality are an underlying theme that is well formulated, the book does not become preachy or dry for me at any point.
I wide range of religious views are present, from the right wing conservative bible bangers, to the intellectual atheists. The main protaganist manages to take the middle ground, and all the viewpoints are treated with respect.
As far as enlightenment goes, this book is more along the lines of food for thought, it didn't cause give me any epiphanies about living a fulfilled life. I enjoyed the science, and the pondering about what the science means to spirituality were fun to consider.
Entertainment: 5 stars
Enlightenment: 4 stars
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2011
A book about a God patent by a doctor of physics was absolutely irresistible to me. Stephens' work lived up to my expectations, which is saying a lot. I loved the way he developed his characters. I was "in" from the beginning! The ideas he played with were indeed thought-provoking, and I loved the ever-present element of irony in the story. I liked it that he didn't offer any solid "conclusions", although as he's a scientist, I didn't think he would. It is a wonderful book---have passed it on to my husband and I know he's going to love it too. My only criticism is that I felt it should have been longer---a sequel?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2010
I couldn't put it down, was immediately invested in Ryan's well-being; his scientific and soulful journey is written with such vigor, playfulness and heart, the captivating story-line never slows down. While the ending may have pulled the carpet out from under my toes, it was fully satisfying, something I find rare in books these days. I too was sad when there were no more pages to turn, when my involvement with Ryan and Emmy and Kat came to its end, so all I can do now is "pray" for a sequel. Or...the movie. This book would make a GREAT movie!!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2013
I bought this book, and read it all the way through, but I felt a bit cheated, because it was listed as science fiction, and it is not science fiction. I agree with the other reviewers who point out that the story appears to have been a little out of the author's control. The characters are indeed delineated in quite an interesting way, but the idea of the patent itself sort of falls flat; this is not a book about patents as such. And it definitely is not science fiction!