Mr. g: A Nov­el About the Creation

  • Review
By – April 10, 2012

After wak­ing from a nap, Mr. g, a thought­ful, ten­ta­tive res­i­dent of the Void, decides to cre­ate the uni­verse. But this isn’t the same sto­ry we’ve heard for mil­len­nia. This cre­ator, who is part sci­en­tist, part philoso­pher, ago­nizes over his choic­es in a way that’s rec­og­niz­ably human.

How many uni­vers­es should he cre­ate? How many dimen­sions? (Two might be unnec­es­sar­i­ly con­fin­ing” and four or more could lead to the mis­plac­ing of small objects,” he tells us.)

Mr. g begins with time and space, fol­lowed by his first cre­ation of mat­ter: a chair. A few orga­niz­ing prin­ci­ples pro­vide order for all the mat­ter that will even­tu­al­ly inhab­it the space: elec­trons, neu­tri­nos, plan­ets, stars…and even­tu­al­ly liv­ing crea­tures.

Two trini­ties accom­pa­ny us on the tour of the uni­verse. The forces of good are Mr. g, Aunt Pene­lope and Uncle Deva. The forces of not so good are Bel­hor, who is Mr. g’s intel­lec­tu­al spar­ring part­ner, and two Baphomets, rep­re­sent­ing fol­ly and mal­ice.

Hard­ly an objec­tive observ­er, Mr. g shares his own reac­tions to the beau­ty of his cre­ations. Ocean waves were music in mate­r­i­al form,” he tells us. Ener­gy fields lay across the cos­mos in vast, flop­py blan­kets…”. He is moved and even altered by what he’s made, prompt­ing the pro­found­ly loaded ques­tion, Is it pos­si­ble that the cre­at­ed can cre­ate its creator?”

But what about ani­mate mat­ter? This ques­tion gives Mr. g pause and here the nov­el itself comes alive. Should liv­ing crea­tures have free will? Should they be immor­tal? Mr. g is deeply trou­bled by the suf­fer­ing among liv­ing crea­tures and grap­ples with his role in their lives.

Alan Light­man is a play­ful and imag­i­na­tive author, as he was in Ein­stein’s Dreams, and his own cre­ation, this quirky nov­el, is as pro­found as it is charm­ing. He shows us how the uni­verse is put togeth­er from just a few rules and ele­ments, how cre­ation shapes the cre­ator, and how to make dress­es from galax­ies. And, cru­cial­ly, he reminds us that rel­a­tiv­i­ty can apply to both physics and morality.

Discussion Questions