Sandoz is a part of the crew sent to explore a new planet. What they find is a civilization so alien and incomprehensible that they feel compelled to wonder what it means to be human.
The priest is the only surviving member of the crew, and upon his return, he is confronted by public inquisition and accusations of the most heinous crimes imaginable. His faith utterly destroyed, crippled and defenseless, his only hope is to tell his tale. Father John Candotti has been charged with discovering the truth, but the truth may be more than Earth is willing to accept.
©2008 Mary Doria Russell; (P)2008 Brilliance Audio
a really good listen. I would recommend it to anyone that likes a well written story with memorable characters. science fiction without crazy science. even if you are not a reader of science fiction you will like this story
This is a well written, slow moving first contact story that is not written like a sci-fi book. It became a science fiction book because there was no first contact stories left to have on Earth. The only technology used that we don't have is space mining. It's about Earth discovering radio signals from another planet. Poised with indecision, our governments can do nothing. The Jesuits of the Catholic Church sell off their assets to send a mission to the aliens.
I read the author say that she avoided talking about the technology. A call was a call. A message a message. How it worked isn't important. Her way of describing the use and not the technology makes this book age well.
Ultimately, this is a book about being human: It's about success and failure. It's about making mistakes while trying to do good. It's about finding God, it's about losing faith. It's about love and friendship.
It's more philosophical and human than sci-fi, neither an easy read or a hard one.
The narrator did a great job with voices and emotion. But some sentences, described as barely audible, were made to be, in fact, barely audible. I had to rewind and crank the volume to catch them and then the following sentence would be far too loud.
I found it to be a slow read, more literary then fun, and more hard sci-fi then fantasy sci-fi. Despite being published in 1996 the predicted science is vague enough not to take away from advances since then.
In the near future the discovery of nearby alien civilization causes the Jesuits to organize a mission to make contact. Loosely Paralleling historic Jesuit missionary.
Like good sci-fi it deals with several social issues and other themes. Faith and devotion is a strong theme throughout. Dealing with significantly different cultures and overcoming one's troubled past.
Half the book is dealing trauma and a character's personal struggle to reconcile his faith of a loving God with the horrors and evil he witness.
The aliens and world are different and strange by our standards but understandable if not always relatable. Characters are well developed, believable and interesting. I had an issue that every Priest on the mission seemed loose with their faith. I think the organization of the Church was handled well.
While funny, clever and hopeful at times this is not a feel good book at the end. If you like first contact stories or theme of struggling with one's faith or traumatic past it's worth a read.
A bit wordy at times, but nonetheless musical in its artistry and carefully crafted. An interesting tale of joy and woe. Emilio is a wonderful protagonist to follow.
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