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A Case of Conscience | [James Blish]

A Case of Conscience

Father Ruiz-Sanchez is a dedicated man - a priest who is also a scientist, and a scientist who is also a human being. He has found no insoluble conflicts in his beliefs or his ethics...until he is sent to Lithia. There he comes upon a race of aliens who are admirable in every way except for their total reliance on cold reason; they are incapable of faith or belief. Confronted with a profound scientific riddle and ethical quandary, Father Ruiz-Sanchez soon finds himself torn.
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Publisher's Summary

Father Ruiz-Sanchez is a dedicated man - a priest who is also a scientist, and a scientist who is also a human being. He has found no insoluble conflicts in his beliefs or his ethics...until he is sent to Lithia. There he comes upon a race of aliens who are admirable in every way except for their total reliance on cold reason; they are incapable of faith or belief.Confronted with a profound scientific riddle and ethical quandary, Father Ruiz-Sanchez soon finds himself torn between the teachings of his faith, the teachings of his science, and the inner promptings of his humanity. There is only one solution: He must accept an ancient and unforgivable heresy -and risk the futures of both worlds . . .

©1958 James Blish; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

Hugo Award, Best Novel, 1959

"Kudos to Audible Frontiers for carefully audiobooking this Hugo Award novel. A Case Of Conscience is an SF classic!" (SFFaudio.com)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.3 (66 )
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4.0 (27 )
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4.0 (25 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Joseph M. Osborne Sr. Frederick, MD 12-14-09
    Joseph M. Osborne Sr. Frederick, MD 12-14-09 Member Since 2006

    UppityOZ

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent audio book of a Hugo winning story"

    I had long been hesitant to listen to this audio book because one of the first reviews was truly awful. I can't begin to guess why that original reviewer bashed this audio book. It's an excellent read of a very good Hugo winning story. I guess the lesson I learned is "you can't always rely on others reviews." This audio book is highly recommended from me.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Harrisburg, PA, United States 06-16-09
    Linda Harrisburg, PA, United States 06-16-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worth a read"

    This sci fi novel was written in 1958 as taking place in the future, i.e., the early twenty-first century! While that future time has arrived, luckily the world envisioned has not! The story raises issues worth considering. It starts on a planet in another solar system that is just a bit too perfect and ends on the moon. But much of the novel takes place on earth, but not one I'd want to live on. Anyone having familar with the bomb cellars of the 1950's and the drills at school for what to do when the atomic bomb is dropped will understand why/how the author came up with it. It was a good listen -- I doubt I would have enjoyed it as much if I'd read it instead.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia E. Aracena Westwood, NJ 12-09-09
    Cynthia E. Aracena Westwood, NJ 12-09-09 Listener Since 2009
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    "Loved It"

    Wished it had been longer, or maybe even made into a movie. There were some parts that I could have done without, but understand why they were needed. Excellent read - now I see why they think The Sparrow was based on this book, it would be hard to deny it. Check the Wikipedia description of the book and then decide if you want to read it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob V. 03-22-09
    Bob V. 03-22-09 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Moldy Oldie still gets it done"

    This is a decent listen. Once I had started I kept going back to hear more even when it was not so convenient. Some strange anomalies such as space travel and tape recorders in 2050 were a little offputting. But this sort of thing fits into the "Where is my flying car?" category of criticism. The crux of this novel is a moral dilemma forced on a Jesuit priest.
    There is no evidence to suggest that James Blish published this work himself. The novel is knowledgeably critical of the RC church, but no more than of mankind as a whole. The ending is anticlimactic in that while a world is destroyed, nothing is really settled. If you are interested in an off-the-wall take on original sin, the fall, and salvation as viewed by a writer-scientist of the mid-twentieth century this would be just your meat.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter SPRINGFIELD, VA, United States 06-04-13
    Peter SPRINGFIELD, VA, United States 06-04-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Fantastic Concept Played Out Well"

    Blish's concept of involving a man of the cloth to assess the advisability of human contact with an alien species is an outstanding entry in the seldom-touched interface between religion and sci-fi. This is complemented by masterful story-pacing and execution reminiscent of the Foundation Trilogy's economy of crisp plot progression. However, this applies only to "Book One" of the novel, which is the novella as Blish originally wrote it. "Book Two" is his attempt to make it into a full novel, and I almost wish I stopped at Book One. Nevertheless, an outstanding piece of work that should be on any serious reader's shelf--or Audible library.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin Herndon, VA, United States 02-22-13
    Kevin Herndon, VA, United States 02-22-13 Member Since 2011

    Checking out Brandon Sanderson's work

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    "Interesting story, okay performance"

    I read this on my quest to read all the Hugo SCI-FI best novel award winners. This one the award in 1959 and is no longer in print. Could not find it on amazon, but audible had it. As with much of the 50s and 60s, the story line is kind of apocalyptic, although this one has a different kind of twist. I will say it makes you think. It is a good book that pays attention to catholic doctrine (you will understand that when you read it) but takes kind of a difficult position on it.

    It made me think. I was not sold in the end by the book, but it is thought provoking. The performance is good - not great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    silverquill Korea 07-10-12
    silverquill Korea 07-10-12

    silverquill

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    "Excellent Narration of a Classic"

    This was my first audiobook, so I was a little skeptical. I ordered it only because it wasn't available as an ebook and it is difficult for me to get print books where I am. I once recorded ebooks as a volunteer for Recordings for the Blind, so I know how difficult the task is. But, this narration was masterfully done with good characterization. It was a pleasure to listen to.

    James Blish is one of the pioneers of modern science fiction, and this is one of his seminal works which has served as an inspiration to many contemporary authors as many of them readily acknowledge. It must be evaluated in view of the time in which it was written. Blish explores issues that are timeless, but may take other forms in this postmodern area, or be completely ignored in the fads of our time with its obsession with apocalyptic and dystopian themes.

    This book made quite an impression on me when I read it many years ago when it was breaking new ground in science-fiction. It is still captivating, though the ending is weaker than I had remembered.

    Listening to this as an audiobook gave a new perspective which I really enjoyed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Toronto, ON, Canada 02-08-09
    David Toronto, ON, Canada 02-08-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Absolutely awful"

    This is an example of why people should not be allowed to publish their own writing... The performance was good, the material is utter rubbish. It's so bad it's not even worth keeping a copy. Don't waste your money.

    1 of 20 people found this review helpful
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