12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Who needs Darwin?,
By A Customer
This review is from: Calculating God (Hardcover)
In his previous novel, "Factoring Humanity", Sawyer expanded on the ideas of Roger Penrose - that conciousness is a quantum mechnical process. In that excellent story, aliens send the coded information to build an engine which allows the operator to visit the minds of others. In "Calculating God", the aliens take a far more direct route. They land in Canada (where else) and demand to be taken to a paleontologist. It's another modern and contentious idea which is then explored: that the devlopment of man and intelligence is not a result of evolution alone, but intervention through "a watchmaker". The aliens refer this intelligence as "God" much to the alarm of the sober scientists of 20th century Dawkinsian persuasion. The aliens appear in North America in order to determine if, as they suspect, the interventions (mass extinctions of big-dumb-animals like dinosaurs) happened at exactly the same time on many different worlds.
This anti-Darwinian view is widely debated in modern biology/physics. It's a nice dissasembly of recent thought on the origins of the universe and the possibilities of an ever present intelligence carrying-over ideas from before the big bang.
But, there are drawbacks: there's the now common attack-on-the-cute-alien-by-crazed-maniac-chapter, the simplistic prose which has been seen before, not to mention the unlikely academic lead characters who tend to save the world(s).
These don't offset the fact that this is important and philosophical sci-fi. Easy to read but with some really sophisticated ideas going on in the background.