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The God Patent Paperback – April 23, 2013
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The Amazon Book Review
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“Fueled by sex and drugs, quantum physics and artificial intelligence collide with faith and free will in a battle over the origin of the universe and the existence of the soul.”
"What distinguishes this classic battle between faith and free will is its unusually deft infusion of legitimate but accessible science... in a narrative that sings of the heart and the scientific method as two parts of the same song."
–San Francisco Chronicle
"The God Patent really drew me in, not just because of the hard-charging plot and the vivid characters but also because this story is wrapped around one of the central conflicts of our time: faith in science versus faith in religion. Ransom, to his credit, avoids easy or didactic answers. Instead he pulls readers into a dense and nuanced argument that leaves us buzzing with questions.”
-Tamim Ansary, author of the bestsellers Games Without Rules and Destiny Disrupted.
"This story of life, physics and spirituality will blow your mind. You won't put it down until the last page, and when you look up, you will see the world in a totally different way.”
-Joe Quirk, author of bestselling novels The Ultimate Rush and Exult
“An aging physics professor at the University of Maryland, Bob Park in the novel is a curmudgeon who writes a weekly column on science and society. That sounds like me all right, but then comes the fiction: he rouses the whole physics community into action. I wish. Beyond that it's a sweet, sad story about people who seem very real, with a struggle between science and creationism in the background. Surely Emmy and Ryan will find each other again in a sequel. I read that too.”
-Robert Park, author of the science bestsellers Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science and Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud
About the Author
Ransom Stephens is a former physics professor and fifth-generation Californian. After earning his PhD from the University of California–Santa Barbara, he taught at the University of Texas at Arlington and conducted cutting-edge research at high energy physics labs across the United States and Europe. He then moved into the high-tech arena, leaving academia to work for a wireless web start-up. He’s now a science writer and high tech consultant living in Northern California’s Wine country, though he prefers beer. More about Stephens can be found at his website, http://www.ransomstephens.com.
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Top customer reviews
But I doubt any of these is a primary goal of Ransom Stephens' engaging, informative and (most critically) thought-provoking first novel, "The God Patent." Instead it seems at home in a rarer realm already populated by Literature-Nobelist Lewis’ “Arrowsmith,” Royal Astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle’s “The Black Cloud,” beloved Carl Sagan’s “Contact,” or the five novels of biochemistry-Nobelist Carl Djerassi in the domain he coined as “Science-In-Fiction,” including “Cantor’s Dilemma,” “Bourbaki Gambit” and “NO” – or the more recent online salon of “Lab(oratory) Lit(erature)” at www.lablit.com, “The Culture of Science in Fiction and Fact.”
As a practicing professor of particle physics, Stephens notes in his Amazon.com autoblurb, “My books are shelved in science fiction, but my science is accurate, cutting edge, and I work hard to make it accessible and fascinating without taking up so many pages that it slows down the story.” In "The God Patent" (and his equally insightful second effort, “The Sensory Deception,” which is “built on the relationship between the senses and the mind,”) he succeeds admirably in this stated goal. Emmy Nutter, a main character in "The God Patent" is a thinly disguised 21st-Century version of early 20th-Century mathematician/physicist Amalie Emmy Noether, of whose talents even David Hilbert and Felix Klein were in awe, best known for her eponymous Theorem proving that every differentiable symmetry of the action of a physical system has a corresponding conservation law, later employed indirectly by Richard Feynman to develop his Nobel-winning QED (Quantum Electrodynamics.)
In being “shelved in science fiction” he tacitly echoes the exasperation of practicing scientists doing “hard-SF” like Robert L. Forward, Stephen Baxter or, most recently, Andy Weir and explicit complaint of Kurt Vonnegut: “I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled 'science fiction' ever since, and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal.” In "The God Patent" Stephens manages to address one possible answer to The Eternal Question of Life, the Universe and Everything (which all Douglas Adams fans know is “42”) by exploiting the symmetry argument between soul and science.
As a once-practicing scientist myself (who kept a teenage vow to drop whatever I was doing if I ever reached the ancient age of 60 and become a public high-school science teacher,) I lament the paucity of such offerings in this “Science-In-Fiction” domain – teachers’ tools to help young cynics see that studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is not merely a path to comical Big-Bang nerdiness nor to Frankensteinian madness but what Feynman extolled as “The joy of finding things out.” Having especially focused on what we teachers call ‘The Gender Cliff’ – where girls outscore boys in Math AND Science until the 7th or 8th grade and suddenly turn away towards more obviously social, relevant and seeming more “joyful” pursuits – we search for the empowering stories behind such female scientific role models like Emmy Noether, Marie Curie, Margaret Mead, DNA co-discoverer Rosalind Franklin and SETI director Jill Tarter, the model for the radio astronomer Ellie Arroway, the main character in Sagan’s novel, “Contact,” and the role played by Jodie Foster in the film. (In fact, the main focus of “The God Patent” is the intellectual coming-of-age of self-contained, skateboarding, archetypically cynical rebellious teenage girl, a diamond-in-the-rough death-obsessed math prodigy named Kat.)
Some reviewers were obviously drawn to the quasi-religious (or at least philosophical) explorations of the souls and selves, of identities and information theory while others were equally un-moved. As a soul in search of such “Science-In-Fiction” offerings (and ambivalent target of friends and colleagues pushing me to follow suit) I find my sentiments somewhere in between. As a scientist I follow Feynman’s dictum that “Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt,” but am as put off by strict reductionist nihilism as I am by “quantum woo” (such as Deepak Chopra’s nonsensical misappropriation of actual scientific concepts into empty buzzwords like "energy field", "probability wave", "wave-particle duality," “vibrations” or other Emperor’s NewAge Clothes.) But fans of hard SF AND good science writing – like many working scientists that were inspired by the genre – will admit that actually Doing Science is rarely an elementary Holmesian exercise in pure deduction but more often an intertwined double helix of one strand of proven fact (Newton’s “shoulders of giants”) and another, complementary strand of intuitive speculation and the classic hypothetical “What If?” of good science fiction.
Stephens and his forerunners in “Science-In-Fiction” lovingly supply the sweet deoxyribose backbone on which the strands are scaffolded, the engaging technothriller’s vivid, believable characters we care for enough to keep turning pages, acknowledging the final Feynman maxim: “Physics isn't the most important thing. Love is.”
The odd thing to me about this book is on one hand the author lost me a few time with all the mathematical equation discussions etc.....and the 14 y.o was apparently a mathematical genius, yet he also lost me with the ( to me) somewhat weak character development. It wasn't that I "liked " or didn't "like" any of the characters, but ,well, they were just kind of blah in a literary way.....i enjoy books where I swear I'd KNOW the character if I saw him/ her and these appeared a bit too neatly stereotyped ( for lack of better word) ...yet the science/math/ physics stuff seemed over my head as an average Jane. I guess Im glad I read it. It didnt really hit me with any earth-shattering epiphanies ..... But ....my dear elderly mom died this past year and Ive been drawn to ANY book that even attempts to mention what happens when we die. So, without giving away the ending, I HAVE been thinking about Kat's "theory" or belief and am kind of seeing it.....it sounds nice anyway.
"The God Patent" is interesting, with engaging characters, but the development of the story was too slow for my tastes. It took me about half the book before I truly became interested. At that point, I didn't want to put it down. It took me three days to read the first half and one evening to read the rest.
The characters in the book are well written, but Ryan McNear isn't as likable as he should be. His backstory was too rough. The mistakes he made in the past limited how much I could root for him to win. I want to root for the protagonist, but I could barely muster any enthusiasm for Ryan McNear. All humans make mistakes, but his were severe and I almost didn't want him to dig himself out of the hole he was in. I felt I would have liked the book much more if Ryan McNear was a better guy. I actually liked the character Dodge Nutter more. He was constantly described as sleazy and untrustworthy, but despite always looking to con people, he often helped out the less fortunate - Ryan McNear being one of them.
I wanted to love "The God Patent", but I just couldn't. It started out slow, but picked up steam and that's fine as long as it finishes strong. Unfortunately, I found the ending to be a complete let down. It would spoil the book if I said anything further, so I won't. I don't think the ending would spoil it for everyone though, so don't use that as an excuse not to read it. Despite the flaws with the characters and story, I still liked the book, just not loved it.