Monday, August 19, 2013

Divine Intervention: A Book Review (sort of)

This is an interesting sci-fi novel that fringes on theology.  I was hooked on it.

Here's my synopsis:

Spaceship Walt Disney was sent out to space to find habitable planets for earth to colonize. They found a planet from a galaxy thousand of light years away from earth. They landed on the planet, called it Mandala, and established a colony that for 150 years being cut off from earth, evolved into a unique civilization. The most remarkable thing about them is that they developed a religion based on the journal of the Walt Disney's captain.

A communication was sent to earth a bout the success of the mission. Earth sent spaceship Mayflower containing the second batch of colonizers numbering 33, 000 cryogenetically suspended terrans. As they enter Mandala's orbit, the prime minister of Mandala saw the arrival of Mayflower as a threat to his government since the new colonizer would outnumber the original citizens. To stop this threat, the prime minister hatched a plan to crash the Mayflower.

There was a problem, Drew a deaf and mute boy who wears a digital communicator established contact with God while praying. God informed him that the "Earthies" had arrived. Drew unintentionally informed the prime minister of this knowledge, and the prime minister had no choice but to detain Drew in case the information leaked to the public which could complicate his plan.

Drew escaped and there ensued a battle between the city dwelling and the tribal, rastafarian Mandalans called the "Burnouts" that lived on the fringes of the city. The battle escalated into space when the Burnouts launched a primitive rocket, designed to intercept the Mayflower, which they also saw as a threat, with the intent of hi-jacking it so that they could use it to search for a planet of their own. The Burnouts was able to defeat the city dwellers because of the information that God had provided Drew on the location of the enemies position.

In outer space, Drew's father, a preacher and a minister, found out that the God which Drew was praying to was an old space probe launched by Walt Disney on Hades, one of the planets of the Mandalan system nearest to its sun. The probe landed on the planet which was pure silicon. When it landed, being an impurity to the silicon surface of the planet, it accidentally created circuits that after a one hundred fifty years became a silicon based sentient being that called itself God, a term it learned from drew's prayer.

The probe was shut down by the city dwellers space plane but before it was destroyed, it was able to link with the Mayflower transferring its consciousness into the ship and from then on called itself "Ship". The Prime Ministers plot was stopped and the truth was exposed.

Epilogue: The ship asked for the "Mayflower" so that it could also explore space on its own.

The idea of a probe acquiring sentience and evolving is not new. I have read and seen the original "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and it was here that I first encounter the idea of a space probe acquiring sentience when it interacted with something out there in outer space. In Star Trek, the protagonist was called VGER which turned out to be the evolved Voyager 6, the space probe launched during the 20th to explore the galaxies. Its primary program was to learn what is learnable. VGER threatened to destroy Earth but the crew of the USS Enterprise was able to reason with it because no weapons, Klingons or Federation, could stop VGER.

Anyway, back to Divine Intervention, the story was good. I was hooked on the plot. The science is not that difficult to understand (which, really in reading sci-fi, one doesn't really have to validate or verify).

What I was really impressed was how the story was able to connect religion and science.

Here's an excerpt from the Captain's Journal which the Mandalans referred to as simply the "Journal":

The truth is so simple, and yet i tremble as I put into words. On cosmological scale, the universe is symmetric in time. What we know of as God is simply the collective consciousness travelling opposite to our temporal orientation. God's realm is the unknowable future; everything that is real to him  remains only a possibility to us. Ironically, the reverse is true: The reality of our past remains unknown to God. And I see what the future holds for humanity. As our technology continues to advance we will eventually become godlike ourselves. Sooner or later our descendants will find a way to transfer themselves into immortal beings, perhaps in the form of pure energy, and they will survive the transition into the collapses of the universe. And then--the beautiful symmetry!--humanity will be the God, and today's God will be some alternate version of humanity, evolving backward in our temporal frame. I have no doubt that when we are God, we will guide them just as he is guiding us now.

Now, I gotta quit for this is way above and I need time to process this :-)

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