The Big God Network Paperback – 28 Oct 2007
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
About the Author
J.C. McGowan has published books about Brazilian music and digital media, and blogged about politics and culture for The Huffington Post. He is a native of Pasadena, California and lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Big God Network is his first novel.
Top customer reviews
The fundamental notion is very probable, being that higher intelligence beyond our solar system is ALREADY here and has been for a long time, if not from the beginning of time; the problem is simply that WE do not realise it nor recognise it.
But other cultures past and present (especially those using sacred plants and shamanic rituals) have always been communing with and learning from it.
But not necessarily realising what it actually was they were in contact with.
The novel is set in a near future America that has been split into various sovereign states and at the core is the battle between the Christian Creationist Fundamentalists and the rest of the population which rejects its narrow minded bible believing apocalyptic jihadist dogma.
The plot is about a cult of alien searching star gazers which develops the technology that it believes will access this intelligence using an advanced VR system with an AI interface to the web and the ensuing battle between the world's most powerful political forces to gain control of this new epoch making technology.
This book deserves a wide audience and hopefully through Amazon many more will synchronistically pick up on it as I did myself.
Published at the tail end of the Bush 43 era, the book predicts that things will get even worse in the U.S. over the next twenty years, resulting in a "post-American" outcome. Some twenty years from now, political polarization splits the United States into a handful of new countries, including liberal Pacifica (the West Coast) and conservative New America, the country's theocratic heartland. The latter is run by a yokel (and funny) president obsessed with the Christian rapture (hmmmm!).
Part of the narrative takes place in cyberspace, where "the Big God Network" is the name of a group of conservative virtual churches. The culture wars are being waged more fiercely than ever before, especially on the Net, and a dystopic New America hopes to bring Pacifica back into the fold. Meanwhile, a wealthy UFO cult called Offworld has developed an AI-laden communications interface called "The Channel" in its quest to establish interactive contact with extraterrestrials. The Channel may tip the balance of power between the new countries. Only Net journalist Franz Sampaio, his wife Dolores Chang, and their Otaku friend Takeshi can keep the Channel from falling into the wrong hands and threatening Pacifica's existence. I don't think I'll be spoiling things by mentioning that the Channel eventually does make contact with something "out there," but in a totally unexpected way. At that point the phrase "big God network" takes on an entirely new meaning.
For the most part, the book is beautifully written. The narrative sometimes has tinges of cyberpunk or (when most biting) Hunter S. Thompson, while elsewhere it recalls Carl Sagan as it gets poetic about the cosmos. Here is a quote from Franz, musing about life and death: "We aren't alone, ultimately. All the life in the universe originated in a singularity, spouses and siblings and neighbors emanated from the galactic womb, and every man carries the birth of the universe in his bones, the atoms of stars in his blood, and billions of years in his stride. And after we die, we will leave a progeny of matter scattered through this world, in the flora and fauna, its rocks and its rain, and molecules drifting into space, there to be absorbed into new worlds, emerging universes. The matter of all time is what our ashes shall ultimately be, while in the night sky shines a firmament of our far-flung, long-lost cousins."
"The Big God Network" is rich with culture and tech references, often worked into sly satire. The Altair, the first personal computer, is mentioned, as are Afro-Brazilian religions, SETI, Wiccan witches, the Yakuza, computer-pioneer Alan Kay, environmentalist John Muir, gamelan music, Saturn's moons, Amazonian hallucinatory vines, and the Kama Sutra, to give a few examples. The weaving of this into the narrative is one of the great pleasures of the book, along with highly believable near-future scenes in Bali, Tokyo and Los Angeles. And, holding it all together, "The Big God Network" has a fast-paced, suspenseful plot that just roars along. I highly recommend it for both hard-core science-fiction readers and those who seldom dip into the genre.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This makes for truly compulsive reading for religion-obsessed conspiracy theorists... (awright, I admit it). But it's also a real page-turner, with a nice sci-fi mystery, and it's very funny. The purple passages of randy (but virtual) sexual encounters had me hooting. Everything is gloriously over the top here, but the author just gleefully glides you along, and his subtle comic barbs just get sharper.
I think every teenager should be given "Big God Network" along with Dawkins' "The God Delusion" as essential reading. It'll cure them of "the God thing" forever.
About ten pages in I had a sinking feeling. The dialog was awkward, so burdened with description and explanation that I was drawn out of the story, a story which seemed over-dramatic and unnecessarily complicated.
But I kept going, hoping the author would hit his stride, that the characters would blossom, that the story would take hold. But alas, I found my interest slipping. A few quotes, picked almost randomly, will illustrate my experience:
The screen flickered and Antonio reappeared.
"All of Offworld's satellites are down now, but I know a trick or two. Guttman told me about a connection we have to an emergency landline. It taps an ancient fiber-optic network in the Owens Valley that was last used by motel owners for Hindu and Urdu programming. We bought it through a media subsidiary a long time ago, and set aside half its bandwidth for our use. It's off the grid and fairly secure."
"Can we connect to Centauri Station through it?" asked Dolores.
This is an example of dialog burdened with too much exposition, and is, unfortunately, quite typical. Other dialog is just stilted:
"Why do you need the Channel then?"
"It would smooth the way, considerably, for our goals. And prevent any outside interference."
"That's it," screamed Dolores, "I told you that I've heard enough!"
"Call off your dogs or we shut down your global operations," said Franz quietly.
Unfortunately, the story wasn't sufficiently compelling to keep me interested despite the writing. It wasn't until about page 300 that I became so curious at what publisher would print something so lackluster that I looked and found out that the book is self-published.
I really wanted to like this book. Obviously I didn't. What motivated me to write this review was the uncritical nature of the other reviews. I feel that I was misled by the other reviewers, and want other potential purchasers to have a differing view. This is one of those times when I'd like to know about any relationship between author and reviewer. Of course, this is just one person's opinion, so I look forward to seeing more reviews, especially from those willing to declare whether or not thay have a relationship with the author.
But there is an aspect to this first novel of J.C. McGowan which lifts it above the mere level of comedy and elevates it to true social commentary. "Virtual Reality As Obsession" is handled with deep insight and compassion, psychologically and socially. The nausea of artificiality and yearning for real life experience and true love of the character Takeshi ring true not only in the novel but also in our day and age as well among video game addicted thirty-somethings.
The Big God Network is an excellent vacation read while sitting on a beach sipping something tall and cool.
Author of Odysseus: The Epic Myth of the Hero
Look for similar items by category