“As I remember, I had just woken up from a nap when I decided to create the universe.”
So begins Alan Lightman’s playful and profound new novel, Mr g, the story of Creation as told by God. Barraged by the constant advisements and bickerings of Aunt Penelope and Uncle Deva, who live with their nephew in the shimmering Void, Mr g proceeds to create time, space, and matter. Then come stars, planets, animate matter, consciousness, and, finally, intelligent beings with moral dilemmas. Mr g is all powerful but not all knowing and does much of his invention by trial and error.
Even the best-laid plans can go awry, and Mr g discovers that with his creation of space and time come some unforeseen consequences—especially in the form of the mysterious Belhor, a clever and devious rival. An intellectual equal to Mr g, Belhor delights in provoking him: Belhor demands an explanation for the inexplicable, requests that the newly created intelligent creatures not be subject to rational laws, and maintains the necessity of evil. As Mr g watches his favorite universe grow into maturity, he begins to understand how the act of creation can change himself, the Creator.
With echoes of Calvino, Rushdie, and Saramago, combining science, theology, and moral philosophy, Mr g is a stunningly imaginative work that celebrates the tragic and joyous nature of existence on the grandest possible scale.
Physicist and author Lightman (Einstein's Dreams) offers another rumination in the form of a touching, imaginative rendition of God's creation of the universe. Bored with the Void, his bickersome Aunt Penelope and tenderhearted Uncle Deva his only companions through Nothingness, the genius Nephew casts about in his infinite imagination for change, form, and meaning. Seized by an idea, he creates time past, present, and future suddenly injecting structure and motion into the "endless sleep" they'd heretofore inhabited. From time follows space and energy, the creation of universes, one of which Nephew favors, calling it Aalam-104729 (after "the ten thousandth prime number in base ten"), endowing it with laws of symmetry, relativity, and causality, and filling it with matter, so that it begins to develop life. Aunt and uncle are thrilled with their new plaything, yet the contrarian Belhor urges God to let the animate creatures have free will, thereby permitting great suffering among them, but also joy. While Belhor insists that the creatures live mean, insignificant lives, and that good and evil are relative but necessary, God sees a grandeur and beauty in their individuality. Above all, the immortal characters are changed by their brush with the enterprising, however doomed, mortals, bringing this elucidating treatment of quantum physics to an affecting, hopeful conclusion.