He’s Mr g in the title, and unnamed in the text, but known to the world as God. He’s been living and sleeping in the Void, along with his Aunt Penelope and Uncle Deva. These down-home characters, who squabble like any old married couple, provide a domestic background for their Nephew. It’s a question of scale. Though God’s upcoming enterprise, the creation of the universe, is vast, it’s being designed by a modest family man. First comes the creation of time, followed by space and energy, and then a universe, which He names Aalam-104729. There’s a rush of subatomic particles and atoms and a lot of textbook physics, well orchestrated. The key moment comes with the making of the molecules. Cause and effect, muses God, in enraptured passivity, the Creator standing back to admire evolution, which will lead to animate matter. Will His creatures have free will? That question is raised by a stranger, an immortal named Belhor who has been monitoring the creation. Way in the future he will be the Devil, but right now he is a stimulating interlocutor for God, who takes his question to heart. God learns even as he creates: the capacity of the mind is a case in point. Questions of suffering, and good and evil, are addressed, though not with the same rigor as quantum physics. Towards the end of this short novel Lightman appears to be running out of material. There’s an altogether too cute chapter in which Aunt Penelope gets a dress of pink stars, a whole galaxy; a disruptive visit by Belhor to an opera house on a waterlogged planet is just filler.
A grab-bag of physics, philosophical inquiry and family tomfoolery that fails to cohere.