CALCULATING GOD by Robert J. Sawyer


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When an alien shuttlecraft lands near the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, its spider-like alien occupant demands to be taken to a paleontologist. This turns out to be lung cancer–sufferer Thomas Jericho. The Forhilnor, named Hollus, claims to have scientific proof of the existence of God. Part of this proof concerns the numerous extinction events that have occurred on Earth: they also occurred, with precisely identical timing, on planet Forhilnor, planet Wreed, etc. The Forhilnor hypothesize that God's trying to encourage the development of intelligent life. The universe itself, according to the aliens, is evidence of intelligent design, though God ignores individuals and doesn't communicate. Still other worlds developed intelligent life but were then abandoned by their inhabitants. Thomas, an avowed atheist, debates endlessly with Hollus. Meanwhile, in a rather absurd subplot, a couple of fundamentalist, abortion-clinic bombers plot to destroy the museum's “bogus” collection of Burgess Shale fossils. Thomas theorizes that the vanished alien races retreated into computer-simulation worlds to live forever; but one race plans to turn the star Betelgeuse into a supernova and thus fry both Earth and Forhilnor. Betelgeuse duly explodes—but suddenly a space-shield appears, and the planets are saved. Finally, Hollus takes the dying Thomas off in the Forhilnor ship to meet God.

From the author of Flashforward (1999), etc.: a theological polemic masquerading as a science fiction novel. Take it as you find it.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-86713-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2000


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