- Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; 1st edition (July 15, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812580354
- ISBN-13: 978-0812580358
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 262 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,373,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Calculating God Mass Market Paperback – July 15, 2001
|New from||Used from|
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Creationists rarely find sympathy in the ranks of science fiction authors--or fans, for that matter. And while Robert J. Sawyer doesn't exactly make peace with evangelicals on the issue, Calculating God has to be one of the more thoughtful and sympathetic SF portrayals you'll find of religion and intelligent design. But that should come as no surprise from this crafty Canadian: in the Nebula Award-winning Terminal Experiment, Sawyer speculated on what would happen if hard evidence were ever found for the human soul; in Calculating God, he turns science on its head again when earth is invaded by theists from outer space.
The book starts out like the setup for some punny science fiction joke: An alien walks into a museum and asks if he can see a paleontologist. But the arachnid ET hasn't come aboard a rowboat with the Pope and Stephen Hawking (although His Holiness does request an audience later). Landing at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the spacefarer (named Hollus) asks to compare notes on mass extinctions with resident dino-scientist Thomas Jericho. A shocked Jericho finds that not only does life exist on other planets, but that every civilization in the galaxy has experienced extinction events at precisely the same time. Armed with that disconcerting information (and a little help from a grand unifying theory), the alien informs Jericho, almost dismissively, that "the primary goal of modern science is to discover why God has behaved as he has and to determine his methods."
Inventive, fast-paced, and alternately funny and touching, Calculating God sneaks in a well-researched survey of evolution science, exobiology, and philosophy amidst the banter between Hollus and Jericho. But the book also proves to be very moving and character-driven SF, as Jericho--in the face of Hollus's convincing arguments--grapples with his own bitter reasons for not believing in God. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Sawyer (Flashforward; Factoring Humanity), a Canadian, is one of contemporary SF's most consistent performers. His new novel concerns the appearance at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto of a spiderlike alien paleontologist named Hollus. The alien has come to Earth to study the five great extinction events that have hit our planet over the eons, the best known being the asteroid collision that wiped out the dinosaurs. When the museum's head paleontologist, Tom Jericho, consults with the alien, he is shocked to discover that Hollus has proof that her own planet and that of another alien race suffered a similar series of five catastrophic events at virtually the same times as Earth did. More surprising still to a 21st-century disciple of Darwin like Jericho, both alien races see this synchronicity, along with other scientific evidence, as proof of the existence of God. Much of the novel is relatively cerebral, as Jericho and Hollus argue over the scientific data they've gathered in support of God's existence, but Sawyer excels at developing both protagonists into full-fledged characters, and he adds tension to his story in several ways: Jericho has terminal cancer, which gives him a personal stake in discovering the truth of the alien's claims, and lurking in the background are a murderous pair of abortion clinic bombers who have decided that the museum's Burgess Shale exhibition is an abomination that must be destroyed. Finally, there's the spectacular, if not entirely prepared for, climax in which God manifests in an unexpected manner. This is unusually thoughtful SF. (June) FYI: Sawyer's The Terminal Experiment won the 1995 Nebula Award for Best Novel.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
In the book, an alien craft lands at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.
'The alien sidled up to the blue-blazered security officer— Raghubir, a grizzled but genial Sikh who’d been with the ROM forever— and said, in perfect English, “Excuse me. I would like to see a paleontologist.”' (Kindle Locations 108-109).
In the book, The Day the Earth Stood Still by Harry Bates, Klaatu is killed by the Americans; in the Robert Wise movie, he was shot but not killed, though killed later. Also shot in the recent remake. This Canadian version of first contact was much more interesting. Strangely, the Canadians did not behave like Americans! Sawyer is Canadian, a different perspective. If you have any familiarity with Canada, it was a refreshing change.
The aliens had evidence for the existence of a god, a prime mover of the universe. The aliens stated the finely tuned universe arguments and the irredicible complexity argument, with our atheist paleontologist making counter arguments.
It was a rather interesting book, with particular relevance to myself. Obviously, you will keep in mind that an agnostic is recommending the book, and the fact that it is science fiction, note the word fiction.
There is a section at the end of the book - Book Group Discussion Questions. If I get enough people reading it, we will have a book discussion as well.
Added to this, the author seems to have a weak grasp on the science he invokes (biology, genetics and quantum physics), misrepresenting what they mean and how they work.What a waste.
In Calculating God, an alien arrives at a museum in Toronto and asks for a paleontologist. After an extremely funny start, the major part of the book consists of a lively discussion between the alien, who is gathering additional evidence to prove the existence of God, and Tom Jericho, a paleontologist who is diagnosed with cancer and starts to wonder about some very basic questions.
Sawyer manages to squeeze in fascinating discussions about cosmology, paleontology, biology and evolution (Sawyer seems to be equally at ease with all these subjects!), and at the same time uses the alien to present some interesting perspectives on such issues as morality and abortion. Calculating God is a truly intellectually satisfying and fascinating read. It kept me up for a couple of nights, I found myself laughing out loud and quoting funny dialogue to colleagues at work and recommended it to lots of people. On the last morning, with just a few pages to go, I quickly fed my daughter, left her to her mother, and proceeded to finish the book. I ended up still in my bathrobe when mother and daughter left home and needed to hurry to get to work at a reasonable time... So, it if safe to conclude that I enjoyed the book tremendously. While the story didn't convert me, it did really make me think (and still does...).
Having said all this, I'm a bit surprised at some of the criticism from previous readers on this site. For instance, I noticed the inconsistency about Jericho's thoughts about cilia, but I just interpreted them as different musings at different times and why should they be consistent? And what's wrong with the ending of the book? I absolutely loved it! It is admittedly on a very grand scale, but it fits the book and is definitely better than the mystic hoopla in 2001. And taking the trouble to write a review and say that it should be This Kiss instead of The Kiss... Naturally, I really couldn't understand the reader who couldn't get through the book. But, hey, different people, different tastes. I absolutely loved the dialogues, the jokes, the science, the various musings and the great eye for detail. Absolutely wonderful. The only thing that bugged me a (little) bit, was that at several places in the book Sawyer mentions that Hollywood has always had a very limited idea of what an alien should look like. That they are definitely more alien than the movies show. But at the same time, he made his alien into a very human character, making human jokes ("this side up", indeed!) and acting very much like a human. To me, that's a bit strange and contradictory and I feel that the alien should be more alien. Of course, I realize that that would complicate the conversations with Jericho considerably, but nevertheless....
Anyway, in my opinion Calculating God is an impressive achievement and from now on I'll buy every new book by Sawyer as soon as it appears!