Intelligent Design by Denise Little

DAW Books
320 pages
September 2009
ISBN 9780756405687

Start with the cover design consisting of various color exposures of linked Hasbro monkeys. Stir in Little’s intention to explore “that fascinating border that requires using our senses, and the evidence, and everything science can teach us, to explore the nature, or lack thereof, of the divine.” The result is eleven stories dealing with aspects of creation versus evolution, most with tongue in cheek.

The first, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, presents five siblings whose mother came from fundamentalist stock and father from a math background. Eldest daughter matures into the both-sides-of-the-argument person telling the story. What she tells is the efforts of two brothers, one using math to discover an anti-God formula and another using biology to prove God’s existence. The Year of the Rat poses some interesting questions in the setting of a very real family.

Next, Brendan DuBois takes us to a world where Hanoi flu – makes you wonder how old DuBois is – is killing off everyone. In God, No Matter How You Spell It, all the world’s resources are being channeled to fight the disease including a small DARPA lab in Maine. Or, at least, that’s the plan. That plan may get modified by what the protagonist discovers is going on in the lab. It involves fast forwarding evolution and some of humanity’s favorite pets.

Jean Rabe, in Int Des 101, gives us an alternate reality where simians are the humans but all the arguments are very human history. The best part is that characters react very stereotypically. While Rabe explicitly states that these simians descended from humans it is her implicit thesis that the results came out the same that tickles.

Made Manifest by Jody Lynn Nye brings ecology to evolution by presenting an organic solution to extremely high speed data transfer. She gives us the greedy corporation doing its best to garner control of the resource and she gives us some uncommonly aware natives to mediate the process. It works very well.

Michael Hiebert’s The Signature of God uses the Australian bombardier beetle to maximum advantage to both frame the story and present the argument. Nano designers, their first design became a wildly profitable fairy doll, receive a US Department of Defense contract to design and build a weapon system based on the beetle. The development cycle is fun and entertaining; the argument that the beetle could not have evolved but must have been designed is a bit more problematic.

Sarah A. Hoyt’s Created He Them creeped me out but then I’m not a cat person. I had no problem when Brendan DuBois wanted to have dogs take over after humanity disappears but Sarah wants cats to do the job. Ugh! But, her manner of eliminating people has a very nice feel to it.

Bill McCay’s The Final Report on the Eden Project, is a bit more difficult. This story assumes the accuracy of biblical history but changes the ending to a final test for mankind. Three United Nations representatives, each with a specific agenda, are provided the opportunity to do the right thing unsuspecting that the fate of all humanity depends upon their actions. Yep, the reps do precisely what you would expect them to do. The R-rated judgment scene is well drawn.

With The Vaunting by Janny Wurts, you get to mix mythologies but still arrive at a mechanism for creation, including all those weird life forms that seem inexplicable through evolutionary means. Besides learning a new word, the story proved a highly enjoyable take on The Trickster trope.

Dean Wesley Smith’s Luck Be A Lady seems to go even further astray from the conventional arguments by invoking and updating Greek mythology operating in Las Vegas. That’s first glance. Second thought will reveal the argument is the same though the backdrop has been shifted to disguise what’s going on. I suspect Mr. Smith has had some unpleasant experiences with bookkeepers.

Peter Orullian’s Guilt by Association presents the argument on the basis of guilt, that it can exist at all. What if it didn’t? Would that prove there is no God? The story doesn’t answer the question, but the sidestep reinforces the proposition.

Finally, Laura Resnick, in Project: Creation, is firmly tongue in cheek as she describes what really happened in Genesis, Chapter 1. I just wonder what happened to Schmidt on the Eighth Day.

Initially, I was put off by the sloppy editing in the introduction thinking, ‘oh, lord, what I have gotten myself into?’ But each of the stories is well written and entertaining. I didn’t come away convinced one way or the other but I did find some new angles to think about it.

Reviewed by Dan Bieger


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