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Dan Brown’s Origin


I noticed a large stack of Dan Brown’s latest novel Origin when I walked down the book row of a big box store. It wasn’t too surprising as this book had been at or near the top of several best seller lists for the previous 5 weeks. I liked previous Dan Brown books, and I reviewed Inferno on this blog in 2013. When I checked the Origin cover description I knew this book would be equally interesting.

I recently saw Dan Brown on the BBC program Hardtalk with Stephen Sackur. I was mid-book at that point and feared hearing a spoiler; luckily there was not. But Brown did say one thing that struck me about the book: when pressed by Sackur to say where he stood on the issues, Brown said that he hoped that his characters bring out the issues enough to stimulate a discussion. Even though I was only partially through Origin, I agreed with his assessment. This is a book that will stimulate discussion between friends and family after reading the book. In true Dan Brown tradition, this book was a page-turner for me and I already keenly await the movie. Brown’s previous book Inferno required modification to make it as a movie, whereas this new book could almost become word for word the next movie’s script.

If you are planning to read this book, here is some background information. Architecture plays a role in this book. I suggest that you make yourself familiar with the work of Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). I first got excited about his work from a 2010 article in National Geographic magazine about the Sagrada Família, a massive unfinished church in Barcelona. Gaudí’s work is so distinctively different, seven of his structures have received the designation of UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will be better able to imagine the action in this book if you are familiar with Gaudí’s architecture.

Do you remember HAL 9000? HAL was the Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer, star of the 1968 movie 2001, A Space Odyssey. The term “artificial intelligence” was coined in 1955 to describe machines which could sense the environment and react, something that was once considered to be a distinguishing characteristic of life. Even earlier, Alan Turing in 1950 suggested a test to determine if a machine could display intelligence. It is not science fiction that developments in artificial intelligence continue and so do debates of the related risks and ethics. Very recently Stephen Hawking warned in an interview that robots will one day take over humanity.

I enjoyed reading Dan Brown’s Origin. I’m now ready to talk about it, but only to those who have read it, I don’t want to be the source of any spoilers!

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Dan Brown’s Origin

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