Project Pope

{4.5/5} “They came here because they had been denied religious experience elsewhere, had been read out of that part of human life that had a strong appeal to them. You have to know a robot well to understand his instinctive drive toward religious experience.”

Project Pope by Clifford D. Simak, published in 1981

The planet was called End of Nothing. Robots had been there for a thousand years at a place they called Vatican, where they worked on Project Pope — a search for knowledge and a search for faith. A small number of pilgrims found their way to Vatican, but on the whole they operated in relative secrecy. Jason and Jill find their way to End of Nothing and they investigate the mystery. Jason is a doctor, who is fleeing a planet where he was about to be framed for murder. Jill is a journalist, who wants to tell the universe about Project Pope.

Can robots have a religion? If you constructed a machine that contained every piece of knowledge in the universe, would it be infallible? If you discovered Heaven, what would you do? If these questions seem interesting to you, then you will enjoy this book.

Ape House was a fast-paced book. This one has a slower pace. There’s more description of scenery, and more philosophical discussion. But Clifford D. Simak is a fabulous writer, and he took me along for the ride. There’s a small amount of what I would call random description — description that doesn’t add anything to the story — but not as much as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea where it really bogs down the story.

Simak is one of my favourite authors I’ve discovered in the last few years. I’ve read City (a collection of related stories — 5/5), Way Station (a novel — 4.5/5), and Over the River and Through the Woods (a collection of unrelated stories — 4.5/5).

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