At the end of the book (err, spoilers?), the main character meets an alternative version of himself who has lived for several billion years, who says to him something like:
"Do you know why intelligent life exists?"
"Luck, I suppose," said Louie. "Although there seems to be quite a lot of it around."
"It exists because, without it, the universe couldn't. For instance, do you know how difficult it is to grow grapes if pi is a different number? Now, who do you think sorted that out?" And the old man, looking very pleased with himself, ate another grape.
"So you're god?" said Louie, unable to keep the mockery from his voice. "You travelled back in time and created the universe?"
"I've lived a very long life, and I've only learnt two things with true certainty - firstly, that however long you live, you will remain a fool and, secondly, if gods exist, they are conspicuous only by their absence." The old man paused to spit some seeds into the gorse bush. "Personally, I think it's the stupidest idea I've ever heard of, but everyone does keep putting it in the suggestion-box, so I suppose there might be something in it. But no, I am not a god - just someone with a lot of time on their hands. And I didn't create the universe - I just did a bit of the wiring."
So, my question is, does anything about this seem insurmountably absurd and/or illogical as a solution to the anthropic principle? Also, is pi a silly thing to pick? Most of the values associated with the anthropic principle are a bit obscure for the general reader, and I suppose it could be taken as a joke...