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Mr g: A Novel About the Creation Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 24, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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

“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.” –About.com

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 

“Terrific. Lightman manages the impossible—writing a riveting story, with odd and intriguing characters, that also slips a stunning amount of physics and cosmology into the reader while he or she is absorbed by what will happen next.” –Orion  

“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.” –KickAssBookReviews.com
“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

About the Author

Alan Lightman is the author of five previous novels, a book-length narrative poem, two collections of essays, and several books on science. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, Granta, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and Nature, among other publications. A theoretical physicist as well as a novelist, he has served on the faculties of Harvard and MIT, and was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment at MIT in science and in the humanities.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First edition. edition (January 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030737999X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307379993
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #976,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By Julie Merilatt VINE VOICE on 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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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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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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