Calculating God – Book Review

August 9, 2012

Calculating Gob by Robert Sawyer has an interesting premise. Aliens believe that Earth’s fossils could help find proof of God.

Robert Sawyer is a Canadian Science Fiction Writer and Futurist. You might have seen the name when you watched Flashforward on ABC a few years ago. He wrote the book, of the same name, that the show was based on.

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Sawyer after he gave a talk at the Museum of Science and Tech in Ottawa. He’s an engaging speaker, which that comes through in his writing. There are science facts and ideas that could have been dull but he managed to parse them out and make then interesting.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my post here.

Characters

Sawyer’s characters are always interesting. They always feel well rounded and real. This book isn’t an exception. Each character is believable and likeable, even the aliens. The only exception is the villains they felt like an afterthought. It felt a little shoehorned in and they were a bit boring.

For characters, I give it 4 out of 5

Writing Style

Sawyer has a unique writing style that is understandable and educational. He makes even controversial or heavy subjects interesting. Unlike some hard sci-fi authors, I don’t get the urge to look up every fact to see what he means. He explains it that someone with my limited science background would understand.

He has a wonderful way of combining dialogue and facts. I find it makes a reader feel like they are having a discussion with the characters.

I give it a 5 out of 5.

Story

Most of the time I feel that the discussion in his books, doesn’t overwhelm the story. In this case, despite the strong characters and the great premise, I find that the story felt like a vehicle for the philosophy and science rather than a counterpart.

I give the story a 3 out of 5

Fun

The story was bare bones but the character interactions were highly entertaining. Lines like, “Take me to a Palaeontologist.” Make the book enjoyable.

Another rare and wonderful thing about this book was its lack of judgement. Whenever a book discusses God, I expect to get a lot of defending for one point of view. Sawyer never pushes one point of view over the other. It was unbiased, interesting, and informative.

It’s not the first book by Sawyer I’d recommend friends to read but it’s certainly a lot of fun for those who are interested in the philosophy.

I give it a 3 out of 5 for fun

Overall

Final score is 75%

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