Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Footprints of God, by Greg Iles

This was a new author for me, and frankly I had never heard of him. But the title made me at least look at it, and it seemed to be some sort of thriller. I had a lot of books already, so I didn't feel like I was taking such a risk by getting it, and then being stuck with nothing but it to listen to. Well, I was very pleasantly surprised.

The story begins with the death of a Nobel prize winning physicist being murdered in his office in such a way that his killer knows for sure that it was a murder. Only one person suspects otherwise, and he believes that he is next.

This got off to a slow start, in spite of the murder, and it may be because of the subject matter: the government's goal of creating a supercomputer with human intelligence. Our hero, Dr. David Tennant, is a medical ethicist who has been appointed to Project Trinity to keep an eye on the morals of this operation. He is also one of several scientists who has had his brain scanned with some super MRI machine and had all his brain data stored away for future use. You see, in order for a supercomputer to have real human intelligence, it helps to add a real human.

The scientists who have been scanned have each developed a neurological disorder as a side effect. Dr. Tennant's is narcolepsy, which causes him to fall into deep sleep with little warning. During these sleep episodes, he has dreams that seem to be messages from God, and David Tennant, an atheist, is struggling with this idea as much as he is with the instructions that are in the dream.

When the same people who wanted the first scientist dead come after David Tennant, he runs but he is not alone. His psychiatrist, Dr. Rachel Weiss, believed he was just hallucinating. Now she knows that something is up, and yet harbors doubts about David's sanity as she runs with him. But is she running with him because David's would be killers are using her to track him?

This would be a fairly routine novel of its genre if it weren't that the author spends so much time in David's head, dealing with God, Jesus, and the meaning of life. And this was the most riveting part of the book. I wanted to know more about how he resolved his "memories" than I did about the supercomputer, which does achieve human intelligence, and takes over the world...for a little while.

This was really different, and I enjoyed it a great deal. I couldn't get the tapes in and out fast enough. I give it 4 stars.

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