Friday, August 22, 2008

50BC08 #18: Divine Intervention

It has been awhile. I didn't quite get through all my nun reads. I guess I hit my saturation point, so I need a break. So what could be farther from nuns than extraterrestrial machine-gods?

Divine Intervention (World Realities Series) Divine Intervention by Ken Wharton

rating: 3 of 5 stars

I will preface this review by admitting that when it comes to science-fiction, I tend to favor the fictional elements over the scientific ones. I don't mind a book that is science heavy, but I'm pretty particular about how that science is communicated. I'm not fond of the model that has two characters casually chatting about quantum physics (much in the same way I hate commercials that show women sitting around talking about their feminine supplies).

Wharton, when he does this, does manage to give it good context (most of the time), so it doesn't get tiresome. The book is reminiscent of C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy in its attempts to address science and theology, but Wharton's aim is different. His crafting of the Randall family is really well-done, and we come to appreciate them for their individual strengths and foibles. Daddy Randall is a preacher and believes in "God" but not the "God" of his son, Drew. Drew, who is a deaf-mute and communicates through a transmitter, has regular talks with God. Mommy Randall is an atheist, but turns out to be far more-open minded than Daddy Randall.

This would be an interesting premise by itself, but Wharton successfully places the Randalls on Mandala, a long-standing colonized planet. In fact, the whole theology of Mandalans is based around a "Journal" kept by the Captain (capital "C" intentional) of the original ship that colonized the planet, the Walt Disney. But they have become their own planet, and the news that a ship containing thousands of cryogenically frozen Earthlings is on its way to Mandala isn't received as happy news by everyone.

Where the book fails, is the Epilogue. I would like to see a law against Epilogues (I'm looking at you Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). I much prefer to leave things hanging than a quick tie-up of all loose ends in 3 to 10 pages. Wharton's Epilogue, especially after all the complex relationships he has introduced, comes off as trite.

Epilogue aside, it is a good read. The scientific reasoning is mixed with personality differences and theology which makes for much more interesting reading than your standard dialogue about semi-conductive materials.

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