Logic’s End: A Novel about the Origin of Life in the Universe
by Keith A. Robinson
This novel frustrates me. I’m not entirely sure who the target audience is; it could be devoted creationists or evolutionists or those who sit on the fence or those who don’t care. If the target audience is devoted creationists, it’s preaching to the choir and not doing much else. If the target is any other of the groups, the marketing on the book cover seems to me to fail miserably. Granted, this may very well be a choice by the publisher and nothing to do with Robinson’s wishes, but the cover screams “THIS BOOK IS GOING TO SHOW YOU WHY EVOLUTION IS WRONG!” Which, well, doesn’t seem very attractive to me from the viewpoint of anyone who isn’t already a fairly committed evolutionist.
Of course, I’m really only looking at the concept spoken of on the cover and the marketing on the outside of the book. What about the inside? We have heard the diatribe about judging a book by its cover.
I picked this up initially because it’s Christian science fiction and wears its heart pretty prominently on its sleeve. Or dust jacket, had this been a hardcover. (My edition, at the least, is a trade paperback.) I’m interested in Christian science fiction, and to help the market I’ll usually pick up any such book anytime I can, nearly sight unseen. Reading the back of the book, I see it tackles something both Brandon and I have noticed: nearly all science fiction simply assumes evolution as fact. Ah, but this science fiction actually turns that idea on its head!
Plot? I suppose I should address that, huh?
Evolutionary scientist Rebecca Evans joins a mission to explore the first planet discovered that seems able to support life. The expedition expects to find some microbes, perhaps something slightly more complex. What they discover is something else entirely.
Shortly after touchdown, Rebecca is separated from the other scientists and kidnapped by strange beings. She enters a literal new world. When Rebecca demonstrates scientific knowledge these aliens might be able to use in their continual wars, they take her on a journey that pushes her to her limits. It’s a world where only the strong survive, where evolution reaches its ultimate conclusion. An alien scientist does not believe any of Rebecca’s knowledge of earth, because evolution could never produce creatures like Rebecca. At least, not creatures that would ever last long on their own. As her physical limits are stretched beyond breaking and her view of the world is shattered, Rebecca must find a way to survive in a world that works the way she always thought it was supposed to work… but never realized what that means.
I found the story, once we reached the alien planet and started exploring its peoples, to be fairly riveting. I’m not fond of Robinson’s avoidance of contractions, but otherwise the prose is standard stuff. The words relay the action of the characters, and I found no gross violations of “show don’t tell” once the plot got going.
Oh, but that first chapter.
Honestly, the first chapter conveyed no necessary information that couldn’t have been done in sentence-long flashbacks throughout the first half of the book. The first chapter had me bracing myself for a difficult read. So… much… telling not showing… Oh! Lots of infodump exposition that simply wasn’t necessary for the story. And to make matters worse, Rebecca was presented as the clichéd main character in Christian fiction: A character brought up Christian, left for reason X that gets under her skin, but is still a good person. She actually says that she hopes this mission will finally prove Christians wrong.
Of course, we know by the end she’ll be enlightened and become a Christian in a dramatic moment of yadda yadda yadda.
At least, that was the first chapter.
After that, things look much better. Robinson really did construct a believable world. How he reveals this world, and how it challenges Rebecca’s worldview, are ingenious. The characters Rebecca meets are three-dimensional in all the best ways. Robinson clearly had a fleshed-out world all set for his main character to go through.
As we rocket toward the end of the book, the action ratchets up farther and farther. Rebecca is pushed harder and harder, and the reader is forced to keep up. Robinson masters the rising action.
And then… the last chapter. Oh, ouch. The last chapter.
If you need to have a satisfying ending, don’t read this novel. Seriously. I was incredibly frustrated with the last chapter. I won’t say what happens, other than that Robinson doesn’t so much use a twist ending as he simply deflates the balloon. It’s just disappointing, after such ornate and wonderful set-up, to face an ending so blah.
I was quite gratified with one aspect of the ending, though. Rebecca is left convinced that evolution is not the answer. She’s positive that someone created life; she has no clue who did it, though. Thankfully there is no schmaltzy “making a decision for Christ” in this novel. Instead, Rebecca decides to search and discover who this Creator is.
So, how was the book?
Frustrating. There’s so many good things here. If we chopped out the first chapter and the last chapter, I’d say it was an excellent book. If you want to read a good story, check it out. If you have a science-fiction loving friend who’s debating evolution, this might be a way to open up a conversation – if you rip off the cover so he doesn’t know what’s coming. And get rid of the first chapter, as it telegraphs the main message of the book a mile off.
This is apparently book one in a trilogy (according to my good friend BN.com). I’m not sure about hunting down the other two… if I see them at a used bookstore, I’ll likely snap them up for curiosity sake. We shall see.