Audiobook Review: The God Patent by Ransom Stephens

19 08 2013

The God Patent by Ransom Stephens

Read by Luke Daniels

Brilliance Audio

Length: 11 Hrs 50 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: The God Patent is a novel that almost assuredly will piss you off at some point, no matter where you stand on the issues of God and science. While I expected to be intrigued by the concepts, I never expected to feel so much for the characters. The characters will enrage you, the debate will polarize you, but if you are like me, you will enjoy every minute of it.

Grade: B+

I have never been a guy comfortable talking about things in terms of Black and White, instead, I tend to wallow in all the grays. This is why I have never been good at science or religion. I love science and religion. I am fascinated by both topics. There is something in my brain that just wants to understand the universe, whether it is through physical or spiritual means. Yet, I often find myself frustratingly arguing with both sides. People on one side who tell me that the Bible is 100% the word of god, who make fun of me because, according to them, I believe men came from monkeys, and let me know that I am going to hell because I don’t believe in their flavor of god. Yet, much to the chagrin of my logical sciency friends, I do believe in god, if by god you mean something beyond the universally accepted laws of physics. I’m not sure there is a god who wants to punish us because we failed to follow a book which tells us who to sleep with, what kinds of food to eat, and how to react when we find mold in our bathroom,  but I do believe in something more. I choose to manifest this belief more in the lines of the Judeo Christian ethics, but I basically consider myself a Universalist. So, when my friends scoff at me, and say that there is no proof that god exists, I say, "Exactly!" This is my frustration. Religion is an exercise in faith, and people who attempt to prove it are violating its basic concept. If God would come down to our neighborhood, change his sweater and shoes, and comfortingly tell us stories (yeah, my god happens to look like Mr. Rogers) than it wouldn’t require faith to believe in him. There is evidence of things out there, of the creation of the universe, of matter and entropy and thermodynamics, and the fossil record. Those things are tangible proof of something that I’m really not smart enough to know exactly what it is but its something that doesn‘t fit so nicely into the 7 days of creation describe in Genesis. God doesn’t require evidence. I have faith that there is a god. Also, I have faith that there are multiple dimensions, and that one day we will be able to fold space and time in such a way that it will open up the universe to our explorations. Because, Faith, as they say, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And, while I have never seen a three eyed, saurian robo-alien, I have faith that they are out there, somewhere.

When engineer Ryan McNear wrote a program to emulate the human soul he believed it to be just a lark in order to gets some money for him and his buddy to buy a boat. Years later, recovering from a meth addiction and looking for a way to get out from under the mountains of back child support he owed, Ryan discover’s that his patent is being used by a new religious base college to attempt to tap into the very energy God used to create the universe. Teamed with a shady lawyer, a teenage math prodigy, and a beautiful physic professor, Ryan attempts to sue the university, either forcing a settlement by disproving their idea or benefiting from its plausibility. When I started The God Patent, I expected a concept driven science fiction novel taking on issues of religion and science. In some ways, this is what I got. Yet, surprising, The God Patent is less driven by the fascinating and often brain numbing concepts that author Ransom Stephens explores than by his brilliant but flawed characters who could be at time, very, very frustrating, yet still became very real to me. For every character in this book there were moments that I utterly hated them, and other times when I totally loved them. I wanted to hate Ryan McNear. A brilliant man, who became a neglectful drug addicted father, who blames everyone else for his mistakes, and who placed his child in a very dangerous situation, but, I just couldn’t. The relationship between him and 13 year old, troubled by brilliant Katarina was one of the more rewarding, complicated and heartbreaking relationships I have read in a long time. I though Stephen’s gave a really even handed approach to very complicated issues. He showed both ideological and moral flaws in characters on both sides of the issues, showing that they are more alike than many people may think. Stephen’s allowed the readers to make up their own minds on the broader questions, yet never shied away from acknowledging the accepted truths. In many ways, I think The God Patent will encourage and enrage people on both sides of the issue. It is not really a book about black and whites, but about people who are blinded to the grays. I was entirely fascinated with this book from beginning to one of the hardest endings I have experienced in a while. I expected to be intrigued by the concepts, but never expected to feel so much for the characters.  The God Patent is a novel that almost assuredly will piss you off at some point, no matter where you stand on the issues of God and science. The characters will enrage you, the debate will polarize you, but if you are like me, you will enjoy every minute of it.

Look, I know Luke Daniel’s is pretty much excellent. It’s expected. But, if there was another notch on which to be stepped up to, I think Daniel’s has recently been doing just that. I simply loved his performance in The Gad Patent. It was engaging, just a bit different, and really made me fall for these often douchey characters. I think there is a real, tangible separation point between good narrators, and great one. Good narrates have good strong voices, and know how to tell a story, but often utilize the same bag of tricks. No matter how wonderful these tricks are, they tend to bleed into each other once in a while. Great narrators throw out that bag of tricks and create a whole new one for each book. Too often, the main character becomes the narrator’s default voice, yet Daniel’s gives each protagonist their own spin, allowing each book to have their own feel. For The God Patent, Daniels makes smart intriguing choices for his character’s and handles the sciency stuff like that one teacher in school that actually made you give a crap about stuff you typically didn’t even try to understand. While there wasn’t any gun battles, or car chase, Daniel’s still allowed you to feel the tension of the novel, getting your heart racing through your connection with the characters. All together, it was a very engaging listen with Luke Daniel’s further proving that he may indeed be one of the great ones. 

Thanks to Brilliance Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.



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