The God Patent
by Ransom Stephens, contemporary (2009)
Numina Press, $14.95, ISBN 978-0-9842600-0-3

The God Patent was a Scribd bestseller, prompting the publisher to issue this book in trade paperback. Much fanfare comes with this book, with the publicity material that accompanies this book lauding the book as a milestone of sorts in the history of publishing. The usual fanfare, in other words, that comes with a book of this sort - many big words being used to convey little of actual substance.

Still, I'm curious. While I normally shy away from Christian fiction due to the fact that so many of them are written by people who make better evangelists than authors, this one supposedly combines science with Christianity to... er, say something. I'm hoping that I will know what that something is by reading this book.

Ryan McNear is not a particularly engaging main character. He is passivity and inertia made life. His wife divorced him when she thought he was cheating and she gained custody of their son. When he was laid off from his cushy engineering job, he didn't bother to notify the court that he could no longer afford paying child support so now he can't even see his kid anymore, not with the wife having a restraining order issued on him. So he wanders around, looking lost and forlorn with a mopey expression on his face, until he falls in with a con man and learns that an old patent, which he jokingly wrote once upon a time to be actually about the human soul obscured using engineering jargon, is actually making an university a lot of money.

The synopsis sounds strange, but that's what it is - the author's effort to play with the theory that soul and software as well as God and hardware may be intrinsically linked. What could have been an intriguing and quirky story, however, is muddled by Mr Stephens's dry and meandering writing style. He writes as if he's composing a shopping list, so every chapter feels like a rambling episodic moment instead of part of a build-up leading to some grand pinnacle of a moment. The characters are paper-thin, there is no build-up of momentum and no variation in pacing, and the story often makes bewildering tangents into matters that barely relate to the plot.

Maybe I'm at a disadvantage here. After all, I'm not enthusiastic enough about the subject matter to overlook the fact that Ryan is a passive and whiny crybaby and the writing of this book is as entertaining to read as it is to watch paint dry on a wall. If you're anything like me when it comes to Christian fiction, it's best to give this one a skip.

Rating: 53

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