By Douglas Preston
|Value for money||9/10|
|Did it do what it said on the box?||8/10|
A great thriller, which probes uncomfortable ideas at the boundaries of science and religion
Basically, this is an adventure thriller set against a “big science” background, with Whyman Ford sent to investigate problems at what’s effectively the US version of CERN, albeit with a handful of staff and Cheyenne Mountain levels of security.
The real meat of the tale, however, is an exploration of how religion interacts with science, politics and society, and how religious extremism of any kind can sponsor the very worst in human hatred and violence, just as much as more moderate spirituality can drive good behaviour. For a change the religious extremists are not Muslims, but American extreme right-wing “Christians”, while the moderates are mainly Navajos, both Christians and those who follow the old ways. I haven’t previously seen this portrayed in the same way in other fiction.
Although the story also features key characters speaking to God, and the creation of a new world religion, as this is a Whyman Ford tale everything is eventually resolved without recourse to the supernatural, with most driven by much more human causes.
The story rips along at a good rate, keeping you engaged right to the last. The hard science background is well presented and credible, as are the personalities and actions of the key players. It’s eminently readable, well up to Preston’s usual standard.
I enjoyed this book, and can recommend both it and the others in the series.