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The Book of God and Physics

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It is written in an unknown language and illustrated with enigmatic drawings. First surfacing in the court of Rudolph II of Bohemia, the Voynich Manuscript has developed a global cult following of cryptographers, none of whom has been able to crack its code.

But rumors abound: the Bohemian court also gave refuge to two of the greatest, and most controversial, scientific minds of all time. Could the manuscript be codified findings, written in a ...

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Overview

It is written in an unknown language and illustrated with enigmatic drawings. First surfacing in the court of Rudolph II of Bohemia, the Voynich Manuscript has developed a global cult following of cryptographers, none of whom has been able to crack its code.

But rumors abound: the Bohemian court also gave refuge to two of the greatest, and most controversial, scientific minds of all time. Could the manuscript be codified findings, written in a special language to conceal scientific discoveries from the Church and its brutal Inquisition?

When a key to unlocking Voynich is discovered in the church where a young Jesuit teaches, he suddenly finds himself at the center of a centuries-old mystery . . . uncovering secrets both ancient and modern.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
“[T]he quest to crack a tantalizing old riddle . . . here takes on new twists . . . A book to delight lovers of well-crafted fiction—and well-anchored fact.”
Washington Post
“Joven has put together a fine recipe for a thriller . . . .The science and history lessons come fast and furious . . . Luckily, Joven’s lively expository prose (given in Dolores M. Koch’s smooth and efficient translation) stops the book from collapsing under its own weight.”
Booklist
"[T]he quest to crack a tantalizing old riddle . . . here takes on new twists . . . A book to delight lovers of well-crafted fiction—and well-anchored fact."
Ross King
Joven has put together a fine recipe for a thriller
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Joven's remarkable debut, while bearing obvious similarities to The Da Vinci Code, is much more than another pale imitation. Father Hector, a science teacher in a Spanish Jesuit community, finds relief from indifferent students in an online group devoted to the real-life Voynich Manuscript. Written in an unknown language, the 500-year-old document has defied the best efforts of cryptographers and scholars to decipher it. Hector's research into an actual recent book, Joshua and Anne-Lee Gilder's Heavenly Intrigue, which accuses Johannes Kepler of poisoning his mentor and fellow astronomer, Tycho Brahe, eventually ties in with the mystery surrounding the Voynich Manuscript. Local politicians' efforts to evict the order from the monastery where Hector works complicate the plot. Joven manages to cleverly blend fact and fiction as well as make the scientific debates of the 16th century relevant and compelling. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Inspired by a mysterious real-life text, Spanish physicist Joven's fiction debut sends three friends on a series of intellectually edifying, if less than thrilling adventures. Since it resurfaced in 1912, the 15th- or 16th-century Voynich Manuscript has fascinated cryptologists both amateur and professional with its odd drawings and strange text, as yet undeciphered. Joven invents one such amateur cryptologist: Father Hector, a Jesuit science teacher in Spain whose school is soon to be demolished by the city, due to pressure from unknown interests. Hector, along with a circle of online colleagues, spends his time trying to decode the Voynich. His interest in the manuscript deepens after he meets two of his online collaborators in person and, working together, they make a series of breakthroughs that may tie the manuscript to, among others, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, the court of King Rudolph II of Bohemia and the Jesuits, who seem to have gone to great lengths to keep the book's meaning hidden. Hector and his colleagues even find a surprising connection in the ancient labyrinth beneath the priest's school. But someone is dead set against their solving the puzzle, and one of Hector's collaborators may have an ulterior motive. A fictional adventure surrounding a real-life mystery as fascinating as the Voynich Manuscript ought to be thrilling, but Joven wrecks the pacing by inserting lengthy lectures on a variety of topics, most often the lives of Brahe and Kepler. Attempting to combine enlightenment with entertainment, the author offers too much of the former and not enough of the latter. In addition, many of the solutions to the puzzles the trio encounters aren't satisfying; therequired clues are not necessarily provided, or they hinge on knowledge of esoteric topics in science, history and architecture. Finally, the trio never seems to be in any real danger, which robs the story of drama. Too many history lectures and not enough tension.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061456879
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/11/2010
  • Pages: 347
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Enrique Joven holds a doctorate in physics. Since 1991, he has resided in Tenerife on the Canary Islands, where he works as a senior engineer at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias. He writes regularly for various media outlets on subjects ranging from science and new technologies to the Internet. The Book of God & Physics has been translated into eight languages.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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(2)

4 Star

(2)

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(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2011

    Avoid at all cost!

    The book is about unlocking the secret to the Voynich manuscript. A young Jesuit priest and his two friends spend the entire book trying to unlock the code to this mysterious book, a book with roots to the great astronomers Tycho Brae and Johannes Kepler. Instead of an exciting tale all you get is long history and science lectures. There is almost no plot. The book moves at a snail's pace and you will be so glad when it finally ends. If you interested in a good book that mixes history with an exciting plot read Steve Berry. Stay away from his dud.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2009

    Exploring the Voynich Mystery in Fiction

    "The Book of God and Physics" is a fictional mystery based on a very genuine mystery, the Voynich Manuscript, a book written in a code that to date even the best cryptologists in the world have been unable to crack, and filled with curious drawings. Named after the Polish book dealer who unearthed it in modern times (quite a character in his own right), and currently residing in a U.S. university library, the Voynich Manuscript has apparently existed since at least the Renaissance though some suspect a hoax. Its real or purported history involves such colorful characters as the Emperor Rudolf II of Bohemia, the Elizabethan English astronomer, magician and spy John Dee, his roguish associate Edward Kelley, and the medieval English scientist Roger Bacon. In attempting to solve the mystery of the Manuscript, the three principal characters -- a Spanish Jesuit teacher, a Mexican beauty with fundamentalist connections, and an athestic British astronomer -- find themselves on what is by no means a straightforward quest, led on excursions into the life and death of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe at Rudolf II's court in Prague, golems, H.P. Lovecraft, and religious assaults on evolutionary theory in the United States, as well as the Vatican and Spanish royal archives and an underground labyrinth. Though the characters are somewhat representative of points of view, with the Jesuit being the most believable and sympathetic of the three, the plot is cleverly handled. The frequent diversions from the main story line, some of which connect up again while others are merely interesting false leads or sidelights, may trouble readers who prefer more conventionally plotted thrillers, but do successfully convey the atmosphere of the strange world from which the Manuscript emerged, with one foot in the alchemy and astrology of the Middle Ages and the other in modern science. That the novel has been translated does not impair its readability, but the sense of a non-American point of view is present throughout and adds to the feeling of "otherness" that is embodied in the Manuscript itself. For anyone who has heard of the Voynich Manuscript before, or is intrigued by its story, this novel is well worth reading and may encourage further exploration of the odd history behind this undecipherable document.

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  • Posted July 11, 2009

    Great...fiction with elements of historical fact

    Impossible to put down. It's like a murder mystery only it deals with an ancient untranslatable manuscript. And that manuscript actually exists. Joven has done a great job weaving history, science, astromony, religion, and ancient manuscripts into a marvelous novel.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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