Book review: Blasphemy by Douglas Preston

BlasphemyBlasphemy by Douglas Preston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, the title of the book is spot on.

I’ve been making my way through most of the Preston and Child novels, enjoying each in turn, so I thought it was time to hunt down some of their individual efforts. My local library happened to have Blasphemy on the shelves, which came home with me for a few days.

This is a very well written book. Not only is it intriguing, it weaves in several themes, allegories, allusions and straight up social commentaries. At the same time it is a fast paced thriller. I really enjoyed it.

Of course the title is likely to make some people a little nervous about reading the book. It should be made clear that The Flying Spaghetti Monster is not mentioned, nor is his noodliness likely to be happy with the religious comments – beer and pirates are not mentioned once. No doubt some will be offended, especially if they swear blind that Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have horns and pitch forks. Everyone else will enjoy this interesting and fast paced novel.

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Intelligent life

You may all think that I’m primarily a crime thriller kinda guy, a lot of the book reviews I post here are for crime, crime thrillers and thrillers. My current work in progress is also a crime thriller. So I clearly fit into a very neat little box created out of stacks of James Patterson releases for the month. But I like a lot of genres, I think most readers do, in fact I’d go as far as to say that all readers read more than one genre unless they are still battling with Where’s Waldo.

Needless to say, despite my current work – and several others in the pipeline – being crime thrillers, I have several outlines for stories in other genres. One of my first big ideas – quite literally, as I have a 50 page synopsis and several instalments plotted – was for a sci-fi story. Think Jack Reacher crossed with Jet Li (Did you know Jet Li is a real life hero?) inspired by Heinlein. Anyway, the main character, Caleb, is the last of his kind and is trying to save humans from themselves, whether that be leading a civil war, or deposing dictators at the various human colonies. Of course there have to be aliens in space.

The problem I’ve always had with aliens in books and movies is that they are too much like us. On Star Trek they could even pass for us, as long as they wore a headband.
But it isn’t just that they look so much like us, why would aliens even think of us as awesome? Would humans be actually interesting to aliens? If aliens are watching our broadcasts you could just about guarantee that they don’t consider any of the life on this planet intelligent.

Alien: So you consider your race intelligent?
Human: Why yes.
Alien: Explain Glenn Beck.
Human: Okay, some of us aren’t as…
Alien: And you dig up stored gases to change your atmosphere so that it wrecks your climate.
Human: But we needed fuel for power. We’ve got solutions to that now.
Alien: One word: Politicians.
Human: Please don’t wipe out our planet!

So in my alien research for my novel/s I finally found inspiration. Who better to inspire me than Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins?*

See the rest of the discussion between Dawkins and DeGrasse here.

*Yes Carl Sagan would be inspirational too, but he isn’t in the video.