“As I remember, I had just woken up from a nap when I decided to create the universe.”
So begins Alan Lightman’s playful and profound new novel, Mr g, the story of Creation as told by God. Barraged by the constant advisements and bickerings of Aunt Penelope and Uncle Deva, who live with their nephew in the shimmering Void, Mr g proceeds to create time, space, and matter. Then come stars, planets, animate matter, consciousness, and, finally, intelligent beings with moral dilemmas. Mr g is all powerful but not all knowing and does much of his invention by trial and error.
Even the best-laid plans can go awry, and Mr g discovers that with his creation of space and time come some unforeseen consequences- especially in the form of the mysterious Belhor, a clever and devious rival. An intellectual equal to Mr g, Belhor delights in provoking him: Belhor demands an explanation for the inexplicable, requests that the newly created intelligent creatures not be subject to rational laws, and maintains the necessity of evil. As Mr g watches his favorite universe grow into maturity, he begins to understand how the act of creation can change himself, the Creator.
With echoes of Calvino, Rushdie, and Saramago, combining science, theology, and moral philosophy, Mr g is a stunningly imaginative work that celebrates the tragic and joyous nature of existence on the grandest possible scale.
NOTE: I classified this under atheism/ religious criticism because Alan Lightman is an atheist. Mr. g is a unique story and you will have to decide for yourself how you think it should be classified.
This book is the story of creation as told by The Maker and the unintended consequences of His creation and choices. There is a lot of science at the beginning as well as philosophical conversations. The beginning may be slow for some readers, but as the book progresses, the philosophical conversations become more frequent and the read picks up a bit.
Lightman includes a little about other possible species and worlds which I found to be interesting. And I love the philosophical debates between The Maker and his adversary, Belhor, as well as some of the discussion He has with Uncle Deva and Aunt Penelope. They discuss topics such as the meaning of life, the existence of absolutes (whether good can existence in the absence of evil), whether The Maker should give proof of his existence, and more.
Alan Lightman is an atheist, although after reading an article he wrote, he is unlike any other atheist I have spoken with or read about. I am not an atheist and the fact that Lightman is, did not sway me from picking up this book or enjoying it. It is only 212 pages and in my opinion, well worth your time. At the very least, it will make you think and would give any book club or discussion group a plethora of discussion topics from which to choose.
There are conversations in the book but they are not always broken up by paragraph and designated with quotation marks. Other times, there are simply Mr. g’s thoughts or discussions of energy or the properties of matter. The chapters are relatively short and the book is only 212 pages long. So even if you are less thrilled with the style, if the topic interests you, it is a pretty easy read.
Reviewed by Christina