The God Patent

My friend Ransom Stephens’ wonderful novel The God Patent is being (re-)released today. Originally self-published, Stephens’ riveting story of the interplay quantum physics and fundamentalist theology is now available from 47North (Amazon’s sci-fi imprint) in a longer, re-edited form, with a fancy new cover.

I first ran across The God Patent when I was doing research on quantum physics for Mercury Rests. Quantum physics and theology are two of my areas of interest, and there aren’t a lot of novels out there that tie them both together. I was initially skeptical; most books on quantum physics written by non-scientists devolve into pseudoscientific new age nonsense, and a lot of books about theology written by scientists are characterized by a simplistic, strawman version of religion that barely resembles the many diverse faiths lived by millions of religious people. But The God Patent had gotten quite a few good reviews, so I figured I’d give it a chance.

I was not disappointed. In fact, I liked the book so much that I contacted Stephens and asked him if he’d mind if I mentioned The God Patent to my editor at 47North. He didn’t mind. Apparently my editor liked the book too, because they offered to re-publish it. (They’re also publishing Ransom’s next novel, The Sensory Deception, which is also great.)

The Amazon description of The God Patent reads:

When electrical engineers Ryan McNear and Foster Reed co-authored two patents for company cash incentives, they thought it was all just a joke. One described the soul as a software algorithm and the other described the Big Bang as a power generator.

But when the company crashes, McNear finds himself divorced, desperately hard-up, and estranged from his son. As he rebuilds his life, McNear discovers Reed has used their nonsensical patents to draw in top-tier energy investors. A patent war erupts, and McNear is suddenly immersed in something much bigger than a personal argument with his old friend: a battle between hard science and evangelical religion. To fix the mistakes of his past, he will have to risk everything—his reputation, his livelihood, and even his sanity—to be with the son he loves.

Set in the age-old culture war between science and religion, The God Patent is a modern story that deftly blends scientific theory with one man’s struggle to discover his soul.

Stephens is a scientist, so the quantum physics stuff is handled deftly, as you’d expect. What’s surprising is that Stephens also excels at portraying religious faith. He takes seriously conflicts between faith and science, but these are handled with a very light, sympathetic touch. Even more impressive is the way he handles the interplay of the various characters. Ultimately what makes The God Patent work is the way Stephens uses the battle between religion and science as a background for the conflicts between the characters themselves. Some of the physics may be a little complex for some readers (I’m not completely sure I followed all of it myself), but anyone can relate to the struggles of the characters.

I highly recommend this book.