A superb thriller that is DEFINITELY headed for mixed reviews!
Mar 16, 2010
Isabella is a giant superconducting supercollider particle accelerator, the most expensive and probably the largest scale scientific experiment ever devised by man, designed to examine the state of the universe at the very moment of its creation, mere millionths of a second after the explosion of the Big Bang. Isabella is supposed to be the poster child achievement of a president in the final months of his first term in office so it's a major political concern when it consistently fails to operate as it's supposed to. Presidential science advisor, Stanton Lockwood, sends in ex-CIA agent Wyman Ford undercover as an anthropologist to root out the problem and report back. So what would one expect from the pen of the likes of best-selling author Douglas Preston - nothing less than the supercharged, high speed, dynamic, breathless thriller that he has consistently produced for his fans. "Blasphemy" doesn't let them down!
If one bothers to look at a novel like "Blasphemy" with a literary eye, an English major might suggest the over-riding them is "conflict" - the perennial dispute between science and religion (fundamentalist right wing Christians led by bible-thumping southern televangists call the scientists "secular humanists" who believe that the universe was created by accident without the guiding hand of an all-powerful God); the ongoing difficulties between North American aboriginal peoples and white politicians with the endless string of broken promises, broken treaties, land disputes and governance problems; and, of course, the endless conflict between big budget science and the exigencies of modern life's demands on politics and politicians.
I enjoyed Preston's homespun philosophy and his attempt to portray the possibility that science may ultimately BE the modern religion of choice. His suggestion that the Big Bang was not in conflict with creationism and the existence of God, that the Big Bang was only the obtuse and perhaps ultimately inscrutable method chosen for creation by a God whose motives and philosophy are beyond our ken, certainly matched my own thinking. But Preston certainly will not have created any friends among the fundamentalist Christians. His portrayal of their religion as a collection of fanatical wild-eyed zealots willing to label even Roman Catholics as idolaters destined for the endless torment of Hell because of their reverence for Mary was perhaps a trifle overbearing.
If this review can help, I'll make a suggestion. If you class yourself as a member of the fundamentalist Christian movement in North America, do yourself a favour. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! It will only give you an ulcer.
That said, Preston has produced one heck of a thriller that doesn't fail to pull its readers from one page to the next for even the briefest second. Highly recommended.