If I were to re-write the ending of a famous book, I’d start with Origin (no pun intended) by Dan Brown, one of my favorite writers (do I hear booing?)
But seriously, I think Dan Brown is remarkably talented: he always comes up with fresh and intriguing ideas and interesting settings (Hawking knows, Brown is just as much to blame for the overcapacity of European tourism as Ryanair and AirBnB. I’d know; I have seen my gormless fellow-Americans posing in The Fountain of the Four Rivers) and he really knows how to maintain the pace and the suspense. His two major weaknesses are formulaic plot structures and whodunits which are often far-fetched or anti-climactic.
The idea that Robert Langdon could survive a fall from a helicopter in Angels and Demons is so utterly ridiculous; the scene absolutely had to be cut out when the film script was written. The ending of the Lost Symbol was such a dah that, 11 years later, Ron Howard is still trying to fix it.
I enjoyed the adrenaline-fueled chase across Spain depicted in Origin but was once again thoroughly disappointed by the ending.
To remind you, in Origin, Langdon is up against a global conspiracy to stop an atheist billionaire Edmond Kirsch from delivering definitive answers to the ultimate questions "Where did we come from?" and "Where are we going?" At the end of the novel, it is revealed that Kirsch has proved the non-existence of God through an abiogenesis experiment. The political and religious conspirators tried to prevent him publicizing his results in order to stop godless humanity from plunging into chaos.
I have found the idea naive. Hundreds of millions of religious adepts will not abandon their faith on the basis of any proof that cannot be seen with the naked eye, touched or tasted. There are any number of scientists who have no trouble reconciling the ideas of evolution and divine origin (Charles Darwin himself remained a theist until his dying day). What’s more, Biology majors in American universities have been manufacturing protobionts as part of their undergraduate training for years (Do do your research, Dan).
If I were to re-write the ending, I would concentrate on answering the question “Where are we going?” (Which, by the way, Brown does not bother with after first introducing it in one of the opening chapters). Because, in my opinion, it is the lack of a satisfactory answer to this very question that ultimately feeds people’s belief in God.
In the novel, there is a character of Winston, artificial intelligence which aids Robert Langdon in his search for truth. I think that the very idea of artificial intelligence would be (and is) a lot more threatening to religion that any findings, however spectacular, done in a bio-lab. I think, therefore, that it would be a lot more climactic and more logical if, in the end, Langdon discovered that Winston was actually Edmond Kirsch’s conscience (or soul, if you please) which the billionaire digitized before his death (he dies very early in the book) and stored for all eternity on that server in Barcelona.
In the epilogue, Robert Langdon would, perhaps, reflect on the new dilemma the humanity was now faced with in view of its newly discovered immortality.
What do you think?