A Journal of the Irrepressible

Archive for March, 2005


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review by Brian Charles Clark

Jonathan Lyons
Double Dragon Publishing, 2004

Nietzsche was right: God is dead—or anyway, dying. In a riff on Arthur C. Clarke’s famous short story “The Nine Billion Names of God,” scientists in Jonathan Lyons’ second novel, Machina, notice stars winking out at the periphery of the observable universe. This happens, apparently, because God is no longer able to hold everything in mind: the omniscient narrator of the universe is becoming more and more limited. So Machina is a novel about theological Alzheimer’s syndrome.

This, of course, is very bad news for humans—especially the power-mongers who want to keep the status quo. The only thing to do is to build a machine to step into the ol’ omniscient one’s shoes. Literally a deus ex machine, a machine of god, this is a fascinating premise for a novel. It’s a conspiracy, of course, and Machina plays on Hillary Clinton’s fear (“a vast right-wing conspiracy”), The X-Files, men in black (though Lyons runs more towards the noir than the comic Will Smith variety), as well as large dollops of a variety of philosophies, East and West. Machina is a postmodern Tao of Physics, and it suffers from a lack of focus: sometimes the kitchen sink just doesn’t fit within the pages of an otherwise highly imaginative novel. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

March 5th, 2005 at 12:00 pm