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Blasphemy (Wyman Ford Series) Hardcover – January 8, 2008
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"Highly recommended... Preston joins Michael Crichton as a master of suspenseful novels that tackle controversial issues in the realm of science."--Library Journal
"An unusually alarming and thoughtful thriller... Clever and terrifying."--Kirkus “A superb read! Blasphemy is both thoughtful and flat-out entertainment--a page-turning thriller about science and religion in which good and evil collide at the speed of light. You'll be up all night with this book.”--Jeffery Deaver, New York Times bestselling author of The Sleeping Doll
"Science versus religion--the ultimate crunch. Douglas Preston has written The Novel of the Year, an extraordinary, unique, fascinating, wildly imaginative mix of thriller, satire, Sci Fi, and every other genre in the book. Blasphemy--you're going to love it."—Stephen Coonts, New York Times bestselling author of The Assassin
"Terrifyingly realistic. An electrifying page turner. Preston at his very best."--Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, New York Times bestselling author of Revenge of Innocents"With Blasphemy, Douglas Preston has finally gone too far. One way or another, I'm afraid he may burn for this book."—Lincoln Child, New York Times bestselling author of Deep Storm “Blasphemy takes the latest theories of physics and pits them against the ancient religious beliefs that they now threaten, in an explosive, hell-bent and finally deeply moving book that I doubt I will ever forget. It literally made me pace as I contemplated the ideas that crackle through these pages, and it gave me pause as I realized that the physics here is so close to reality that the face of God that appears in this book may soon be, in real life, before us all.”—Whitley Strieber, New York Times bestselling author of 2012: The War For Souls “In Blasphemy, Preston rips the toga off God, and what remains is simply the answer to the most profound question of human existence...why are we here? A stunningly great read.”—W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear, USA Today bestselling authors of People of the Nightland and the novels of North America's Forgotten Past
“Blasphemy is one hell of a good book. I couldn't stop reading, and at the end I had to force myself to slow down!”—David Hagberg, winner of three American Mystery Awards and USA Today bestselling author of Dance With the Dragon
“Preston has taken a fascinating concept and implemented it brilliantly. It's one of those books you think and talk about after you've finished it. I loved the characters. Even the sleazy ones were well-done. Science meets religion with a side order of politics. The mixture is explosive!”—Larry Bond, New York Times bestselling author of Dangerous Ground“Can science discover God? Blasphemy is a stunningly ambitious novel that lives up to its goals. The theme is nothing less than the question: Is science the new religion?”—Barbara D’Amato, Edgar Award Winner and author of Death of a Thousand Cuts
- Publisher : Forge Books; 1st edition (January 8, 2008)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0765311054
- ISBN-13 : 978-0765311054
- Item Weight : 1.6 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.81 x 1.39 x 9.12 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #313,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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As they seal themselves in the mesa and stall for time, the political leaders that helped fund the 40 billion dollar project become increasingly anxious. Elections are just around the corner and they want to know why progress has stalled. Meanwhile, religious leaders are concerned that these labcoats are attempting to disprove god. What are the heathens hiding as their experiments dim the lights of Las Vegas? Just what the hell is going on up there?
Enter Wyman Ford. Former monk and ex-CIA agent, Ford has the right combination of skills needed to integrate himself with the scientists and to discern the cause of their delays. Wyman dons the guise of an anthropologist, sent by Washington to sooth the Navajo tribes that surround the particle accelerator. Tribes that grow weary of more promises not kept and increasingly wary of the experiments being conducted on their holy ground. But it is when Wyman discovers that he still has feelings for one of the scientists that he realizes why they picked him for this job.
If you take the cocksure and dysfunctional scientists from Crichton's Sphere, who dare meddle in secrecy with elements beyond their understanding, and combine them with the philosophical musings on science and religion that make up Sagan's Cosmos, the result would be Douglas Preston's Blasphemy. Equal parts techno-thriller and cultural observation, Blasphemy is one of the rare novels that entertains and enlightens at the same time. There is plenty of suspense, unsolved murders, devious characters, conflicting motivations, and tense action in Blasphemy. But the central clash takes place between two very real contemporary opponents: Science and Religion.
It would be easy to blame Preston for taking sides on this conflict. Religious readers may be offended with his portrayal of Christians and see the lionization of science on every page. But that is not what this book is about. One of the worst offenders in this novel is presented as a figurehead for science. And the conclusion of Blasphemy is sure to upset scientists as much as theists. Preston's biting satire is not aimed at those to one side, it is aimed at those to the extremes. At scientists and religious leaders who replace the curiosity that drives us towards truth with the absolute conviction that paralyzes one from seeking it.
Blasphemy, then, is a call for moderation. Douglas Preston casts both sides in an equally negative light in order to reveal the flaws of our fanaticism. He seems to be saying that without doubt and skepticism we become violently sure of ourselves. We replace the humility of not knowing with the anger of not having our every proclamation trusted and accepted. The evangelist who gains power and wealth through his congregation, despite his hypocritical sins, is presented alongside the megalomaniac scientists that are willing to falsify data to further their ideological agenda. Both sides have their figureheads coursing through the book, their creeds like matter and anti-matter which explode on contact.
The tragedy of this cultural war is that it rests on a false premise. Religion was always meant to be a search for truth. It arose naturally from ancient people asking reasonable questions. When a person lays down a spear, it does not move on its own. It only moves when another person makes it move. From these observations, thousands of tiny examples a day, it was natural to conclude that the sun was moved by more powerful men. The winds came from even stronger men. To mock these conclusions is to mock logic, for it was airtight considering the data these thousands of individual tribes had at their disposal.
Up until very recently the greatest scientific discoveries have been made by men of the cloth, not people in labcoats. But something happened around the age of enlightenment. So many of the theories of old fell all at once that the church became threatened. Clinging to the power of divine revelation, they fought against the truth in an attempt to maintain their perfect authority. This has only reduced their claims and entrenched them on the wrong side of discovery.
At the same time, science has become just as sure of itself. This, despite the self-correcting nature of its discipline. The more often individual elements are proven wrong, the stronger its members feel about its methods, which is the antithesis of the current struggles that religion endures. Growing ever more complicated, science speaks less and less to the general public. The field rarely deals with the emotional matters which move people to support a cause. Its practitioners are seen as cold, over-logical, unfeeling, meddlesome, arrogant, and dangerous.
If it seems like this struggle does not merit the label Culture "War", consider that one side sees the other as killing about 1.5 million innocent lives each year. The other side sees fanatics flying into buildings and blowing themselves up, they see a rejection of modern medicine, they see diseases that could be treated via stem-cell research. Whichever side you fall on does not change the fact that both sides see incredible harm in the other. It is a very real divide that paints my own country in two colors every November. There is a battle going on, and Douglas Preston forces us to recognize it in Blasphemy.
Of course, many readers are not happy with this bit of introspection. Christians in particular have been critical of the book. And this is what frightens me: the armies which clash in Preston's novel should not be ones that we identify with. No scientist should read about the character of Hazelius and empathize with his actions and ideology. No Christian should read about Spates and Eddy and see these abominations as real members of their faith. The terrifying result of Preston's novel is to see how many readers and critics rush to the defense of pure evil. Their own fanaticism is too great to see that Preston is not supporting one side or the other, but something wholly original today: Neither!
Blasphemy ends with a bizarre compromise, one which convinces me that Douglas Preston's goal is not to foment the flames of theism vs. atheism. His goal is to examine a possible path forward and beyond. It is an amazingly original conclusion, one which is sure to displease both sides of the debate. But that is the nature of compromise. And a middle-ground is never as distasteful as mutually-assured destruction. Consider this: The rational leaders of science and faith today have proposed that the two go their separate ways. That religion be the sole proprietor of morality and spirituality and that science lead the way in the discovery of cold truth. This is the solution put forward by moderates from both camps. It is an admission of defeat. A bugle horn for rallying armies to one side or another of a great divide. What Preston urges, and what so many are criticizing him for, is the possibility of us all fighting together. Fighting against tyranny and abuse. Fighting to discover scientific and ethical truths at the same time. It is a refreshing idea in a contemporary climate that urges we part company and go our separate ways.
These solutions fail because most of us are both spiritual AND logical. Most of us want to be guided by reason, but also to be overwhelmed with wonder. To undersand the source of a rainbow, but to be able to feel a rush of spirituality when we encounter just the right one. Our protagonist, Wyman Ford, is not a former monk and ex-CIA scientist by accident. He is the common ground that exposes the extremes to either side. Logical and skeptical, able to reason and feel, characters like Wyman and Begay are the ones we should celebrate in Preston's novel. Aligning ourselves to either side simply exposes the urgent need for this debate and for more books like Blasphemy which inspire them.
If this sounds like heady stuff, don't worry. The book is a thrill-a-minute; the philosophical musings are hardly noticed. They are necessary to the plot and they propel this amazing story further and faster like enormous magnets. Just as The Da Vinci Code entertained and stirred controversy at the same time, Blasphemy will be a book you can't put down... and then can't stop thinking about once you do.
The hardback is practically being given away at Amazon for $8.99. Grab a copy right now. I can not recommend it highly enough.
Though the book stopped short of crossing the line, I am sure there are many who would still be offended by the subject matter. I found the idea of a God who supported numerous scientific theories currently refuted by Christianity far too convenient to be the slightest bit believable, but the author seemed taken with the idea as the conversation appeared in print three times. As per the tired usual, devout Christians, Catholics carefully excluded this time, come off as the evil villains, appearing not only as mindless, incendiary, easily-led sheep, but as a violently murderous mob. I won't even get into the laughable misconceptions about Christian beliefs about Jesus, the Rapture, or the Antichrist, but suffice it to say the concepts were seriously skewed for this book. And maybe I'm wrong, but the claim that God talked to man for the FIRST TIME EVER in this story seems a bit misplaced, being as God spoke with Adam in the Garden of Eden, and I seem to remember some Bible passages about Moses and a burning bush, among others. In any event, only scientists and Navajos come off as even slightly reasonable or intelligent in this story. While I believe there are mindless fools out there who will blindly let themselves be led into horrible acts of atrocity, as history has proven, I resent fundamentalist Christians always being ham-handedly painted with that brush. Belief in Christ is not synonymous with violence and stupidity. This book merely proves that narrow-minded arrogance exists everywhere, even among writers and scientists, and that science has as much difficulty grasping true spirituality as the average zealot has understanding quantum physics.
Though I think the author missed the boat on several of his concepts and trotted out a few too many tired plot devices, I nonetheless applaud his attempt and the guts it took to write a book with such a theme. Even though I found much to disagree with, it is ultimately only a work of fiction and its ending nothing more than a blatant scientist's fantasy.
Top reviews from other countries
The real meat of the tale, however, is an exploration of how religion interacts with science, politics and society, and how religious extremism of any kind can sponsor the very worst in human hatred and violence, just as much as more moderate spirituality can drive good behaviour. For a change the religious extremists are not Muslims, but American extreme right-wing "Christians", while the moderates are mainly Navajos, both Christians and those who follow the old ways. I haven't previously seen this portrayed in the same way in other fiction.
Although the story also features key characters speaking to God, and the creation of a new world religion, as this is a Whyman Ford tale everything is eventually resolved without recourse to the supernatural, with most driven by much more human causes.
The story rips along at a good rate, keeping you engaged right to the last. The hard science background is well presented and credible, as are the personalities and actions of the key players. It's eminently readable, well up to Preston's usual standard.
I enjoyed this book, and can recommend both it and the others in the series.
The book flowed well and gave some insight into the current navajo way of life and the contributions that the navajo people have brought to the past (navajo whisperers in WW II). It is, as another reviewer put it, a very "good yarn". Keeps pace all the way through and has a good ending. Well thought out and enjoyable - give it a chance, read it! Blasphemy