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I'm a writer, podcaster and skills coach in Vancouver, BC. I have two legs, but often misplace the left one. If you see me operating this blog in an erratic or dangerous manner, please smile, nod and back your way out of the room slowly.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Calculating God - Robert J Sawyer

Calculating God
Robert J Sawyer

First Published: April 1999
Read: May 2005

Capsule: Robert J Sawyer, Nebula Award-winning science fiction writer, weighs in on the intelligent design debate through contrived, heavy-handed fiction.

Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN: 0812580354
Tor Books

This was lent to me by a friend with high praise. Unfortunately I can't support his claims. While positing a smattering of interesting ideas and posing one or two questions of note, Calculating God is pretty much an ageing science fiction writer's attempt to show off how much he knows about physics, astronomy and cutting edge religious dogma.

After an alien spacecraft lands at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum, the world is shocked when the extraterrestrial that emerges asks not to meet political or military personnel, but rather desires an audience with the ROM's head paleontologist.

It seems that there are at least two other civilised worlds on the brink of self-destruction, like ours. These aliens, then, are searching for similarities in our cultural and physiological evolutions to head off disaster for our three races. Oh, did I mention both of these otherworldly visitors have scientific evidence for the existence of God?

What follows is little more than a seminar on intelligent design. Reading the book, you'll either feel that Sawyer's a holy salesman trying to convert you, or be oblivious to it and come away with all that subliminal religious programming swimming around in your head. Hey, I'm all for exploration of faith -- this, however, smacks of the Scientologists handing out coupons for "free IQ testing" to get people through the door. There's no subtlety whatsoever; it's just Sawyer as sci-fi preacher.

Calculating God is a mercifully quick read; as such, it's not a waste of time, but surely there are other sci-fi books that prophesise with a lighter touch.


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