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A Case of Conscience

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N raised on Earth play Is he an innocent victim of circumstance or will he bring about the Dies Irae the day of the wrath of God upon the earth The fate of two worlds hinges on the answers to these uestions and will lead to an ancient earth heresy that shakes the Jesuit priest's beliefs to their very core A Case of Conscience is a brilliant piece of storytelling and it packs a lot into a scant 242 pages Most readers will probably finish the book in one sitting unable to stop until the spectacular denouement But the uestions posed by this little known gem will stay with you for days afterward PM Atterberr. A great thank you to James Blish and Open Road for the opportunity to read this book and offer an unbiased reviewIn the distant future a science team explores the planet Lithia The team includes the Jesuit priest Ruiz Sanchez They must determine whether the planet is appropriate for Earth's habitation The team is divided No member is as decisive in his judgement as Ruiz Sanchez however The planet seems just too good to be trueOnce back on Earth with prime samples investigation continues To celebrate one exceptional specimen a countess throws a party I couldn't help but singthere's no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going It was spot on WonkaAs this life form grows in popularity Ruiz Sanchez continues to see the seed of evil half naked commanding money fathering lies poisoning discourse compounding grief corrupting children killing love building armies It seems a bit excessive It's like saying freedom of speech is the devil's work Now I agree violent riots and calls to arms breed death and destruction which could be viewed as demonic tools We've all seen this lately with the way people have been acting after the elections There is nothing that makes sense about that Basically we have to know when to draw the line peaceful demonstration or tear gas Thank you Blish for an obviously timeless story This has given me a lot to process tonight

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The citizens of the planet Lithia are some of the most ethical sentient beings Father Ramon Ruiz Sanchez has ever encountered True they have no literature no fine arts and don't understand the concept of recreation but neither do they understand the concepts of greed envy lust or any of the sins and vices that plague humankind Their world seems darned near perfect And that is just what disturbs the good Father First published in 1959 James Blish's Hugo Award winning A Case of Conscience is science fiction at its very best a fast paced intelligent story that offers plenty of action while at the same time. A Case of Conscience A Catholic priest faces aliens with morality but no religionOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureGreat A side dreadful B side This is James Blish’s 1959 Hugo winning SF novel expanded from the1953 novella Part One the original novella is set on planet Lithia introducing a race of reptilians with a perfect strife free society and innate sense of morality However to the consternation of Father Ramon Ruiz Sanchez they have no religion of any kind Their morality is inherent and they have no need of a religious framework to direct their actions As a Catholic Ruiz Sanchez cannot make heads or tails of this Without religion do the Lithians have souls If so are they fallen into sin like humans or still in a state of grace like Adam and Eve He struggles with this conundrum as well as the purpose of the expedition to Lithia which is to determine whether the planet should be exploited for its lithium or uarantined since the Lithians are clearly created by Satan to undermine the need for faith to form the basis for an ideal society It’s very unclear whether Blish thinks this is a legitimate debate or not and while it’s good for the author to let the reader decide I’d like to see Heinlein hold back on judgment for example this Part ends inconclusively with Ruiz Sanchez receiving an egg from his Lithian friend Chtexa to bring back to EarthPart 2Part 2 must be the most incoherent and poorly written second act ever in SF It’s about Egtverchi the Lithian born from that egg as he grows up in human society He uickly learns about the world and starts to uestion why humans are living in underground shelters brought about by earlier nuclear conflict In the process he causes a massive rebellion among the stir crazy people of Earth who are suffering from the psychosis of living undergroundAt the same time Ruiz Sanchez is brought before the Pope fore heresy since his suggestion that Satan created Lithia to undermine God is a form of Manichaeism a religion that posits a struggle between eually matched good and evil The Pope points out that Ruiz Sanchez may have been deceived by the Lithians and by extension Satan and that he should have performed an exorcism of the planet That wouldn’t have been my conclusion butThen the story does another sudden about turn and we discover that a scientist from the initial expedition has gone back to Lithia and is trying a dangerous experiment that may destroy the planet As Ruiz Sanchez performs his exorcism Lithia explodes Was it his exorcism that did it unraveling Satan’s illusion or merely the mad experiments of the scientists who destroyed an innocent and perfectly moral society The story provides no answers and further no basis to form an opinionPart 2 was so badly constructed and garbled that I wonder what happened to James Blish when he wrote it It’s just a complete mess and actually got me fairly irritated I really cannot understand how this book won the Hugo Award that year A Case of Conscience is truly dated in every sense and it would almost certainly never be written or gain any following today The wooden characters and dialogue wouldn't withstand scrutiny and a philosophy centric story almost certainly would seem irrelevant in our information drenched hyper realist world While I consider the book a failure as a piece of SF literature it certainly deserves credit for its unlikely storyline and refusal to wrap things up neatly at the end However the deplorable uality of the latter half really makes it hard to take seriously It's clear that back in the 1950s authors often wrote good short stories and were then pushed by publishers to expand them into less satisfying longer works Of course the pendulum has swung too far the other way now since any genre work that wants to be taken seriously has to be at least 800 pages long But it is unfortunate that some early classics feel poorly constructed and that reflects the tenuous state of the genre back in the Golden Age of Astounding and Galaxy before full length SF really hit its stride

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Explores complex uestions of values and ethics In this case Blish has taken on the age old battle of good vs evil Lithia poses a theological uestion that lies at the heart of this book is God necessary for a moral society The Lithians are nothing if not moral Not only do they lack the seven deadly sins they also lack original sin And without any sort of religious framework they have created the Christian ideal world one that humans would be eager to study and emulate But is it too perfect Is it in fact as Father Ruiz Sanchez suspects the work of The Adversary And what role does Egtverchi the young Lithia. People don't write speculative fiction like this any by which I mean several things First this is dated Blish's world of dinosaur like pacifists living in perfect harmony and communicating with giant trees feels like something out of the golden age of science fiction and his view of a future earth where the cold war has driven mankind underground and insane feels like a 50s dystopia This is understandable since the book was written in the 50s but it calls the applicability of the story for modern readers into uestionHowever I think that this book is relevant precisely because nothing uite like it is being written today This is a morality tale with such straightforward plot and characters that modern readers and publishers will probably be turned off The cynical atheist the impotent humanist the diffident follower and the single minded catholic priest are not realistic characters They are rather representative constructs of universal impulses like what you would see in a morality play The plot is reminiscent of The man who fell to earth or The Dispossessed and like those books is mostly an excuse for some philosophic musings Unlike those books there is tremendous ambiguity as to the meaning of the events in the book Each character sees the same events but interprets them in wildly different ways Because the first and last perspective given is that of the priest there is some temptation to take his view as correct than the others I think that would be a callow mistake It's true that the cynic is very unsympathetic really downright despicable but Blish makes it clear that his viewpoint is meant to have a degree of validity even if mistakes are clearly madeIn short it's a book that's very simple to read and somewhat complex to think about That the interpretation of the final events range from salvation to a horrifying mistake is a clear indicator that there is going on here than the simple plot and characters which are somewhat offensive to our sophisticated modern palate The focus on the priest is explained by the title for it is his conscience with which the book is concerned Considering his final actions and what he thinks that he has accomplished by them makes the consideration of his conscience as complex a uestion as anyone could wish for Rebel in High Heels is God necessary for a moral society The Lithians are nothing Intoxicating if not moral Not only do they lack the seven deadly sins they also lack original sin And without any sort of religious framework they have created the Christian Tess (Calloway Corners, ideal world one that humans would be eager to study and emulate But Cruel Fate (Cainsville, is Psychodynamics of Fear, Hate and Social Polarization it too perfect Is Whiskey at Midnight it Trustplaces in fact as Father Ruiz Sanchez suspects the work of The Adversary And what role does Egtverchi the young Lithia. People don't write speculative fiction like this any by which I mean several things First this Rhythm Ride is dated Blish's world of dinosaur like pacifists living The Interpersonal Communication Book in perfect harmony and communicating with giant trees feels like something out of the golden age of science fiction and his view of a future earth where the cold war has driven mankind underground and Kingdom Come insane feels like a 50s dystopia This Trinity Bound (Redwood Pack, is understandable since the book was written Sexplorations in the 50s but The Wild Girls Club it calls the applicability of the story for modern readers The Wild Girls Club, Part 2 into uestionHowever I think that this book World of the Boxer is relevant precisely because nothing uite like New Owners Guide to Boxers it No Substitute for Murder (Subbing isnt for Sissies is being written today This Riding Free is a morality tale with such straightforward plot and characters that modern readers and publishers will probably be turned off The cynical atheist the Pokemon 9 impotent humanist the diffident follower and the single minded catholic priest are not realistic characters They are rather representative constructs of universal That Ain’t Witchcraft (InCryptid impulses like what you would see Sam the Sudden in a morality play The plot The Selkie Wife is reminiscent of The man who fell to earth or The Dispossessed and like those books Cauldron of Blood is mostly an excuse for some philosophic musings Unlike those books there Tempering (Jarheads, is tremendous ambiguity as to the meaning of the events Kill Shot (Code 11-KPD SWAT, in the book Each character sees the same events but Hunting Season interprets them Penis Enlargement: The Porn Industry's Secret Penis Enlargement Techniques in wildly different ways Because the first and last perspective given The Life List of Adrian Mandrick is that of the priest there A Very Strange Dolls House is some temptation to take his view as correct than the others I think that would be a callow mistake It's true that the cynic Snowspelled (The Harwood Spellbook, is very unsympathetic really downright despicable but Blish makes Flashpoints it clear that his viewpoint Handjobs By Julius is meant to have a degree of validity even Spellmonger (The Spellmonger, if mistakes are clearly madeIn short Plague Maker it's a book that's very simple to read and somewhat complex to think about That the 50 Things to Know about Cross-Cultural Relationships (50 Things to Know Relationships) interpretation of the final events range from salvation to a horrifying mistake مدرسهٔ نیکولا کوچولو is a clear The Gadamer Reader indicator that there Landslide! is going on here than the simple plot and characters which are somewhat offensive to our sophisticated modern palate The focus on the priest Femdom Futa and the Cheating Ex is explained by the title for Pleading the Fifth (Assassin/Shifter, it Texas Celebrity Turkey Trot is his conscience with which the book The Dog Lovers Companion to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore is concerned Considering his final actions and what he thinks that he has accomplished by them makes the consideration of his conscience as complex a uestion as anyone could wish for


10 thoughts on “A Case of Conscience

  1. says:

    This review contains spoilers for several of James Blish's novelsI discovered James Blish when I was about 10 I believe the first one I read was The Star Dwellers and I have returned to him many times throughout my life I don't think I know any author who is uite as frustrating an example of Kilgore Trout syndrome Wonderful ideas but in most cases terrible execution for every novel or short story that succeeds at least three are left butchered and bleeding by the side of the road Blish had a clutch of fascinatingly heretical theories about the relationship between Man and the Divine and if he'd been able to write properly you sometimes feel he could have been another Dante or Nietzsche In Black Easter a surprisingly good novel about black magic an insane arms dealer joins forces with a sorcerer to release all the major demons from Hell for one night; the book's terrifying conclusion has Satan appearing in person to announce the death of God The seuel has another fine idea but it's ruined by hasty and shoddy writing it turns out that this is also part of the Divine Plan and the Devil is unwillingly forced to take God's place In his longest work the four volume Cities in Flight Blish developed an even grandiose and imaginative concept The first volume depicts the Second Coming of Christ and the concept is once again excellent Christ confounds the expectations of the world's faithful by incarnating as Bliss Wagoner the US Senator for Alaska this was well before Sarah Palin was born in case you're wondering He delivers on His promise to give eternal life in the heavens to His people but does so in an unexpected way by diverting federal funding into research programs which result in faster than light travel and an immortality drug One of the most agreeable conceits of the novel is that Christ is not recognized by anyone and is never explicitly identified; it's only when you get to the book's final sentence that Blish comes clean and even then he phrases it cryptically Alas this brilliant idea is again spoiled by poor writing And the same goes for the fourth volume despite coming up with one of the best end of the universe plots ever devised in which the meaning of God's Creation is triumphantly revealed on the last page the greater part of the book is boring and flatSo it should be no surprise that A Case of Conscience is of the same We have discovered a planet peopled by an apparently gentle and civilized race the Lithians who are gradually revealed as being literally a creation of the Devil intended to delude and ensnare humanity The protagonist a Jesuit priest too late recognizes the Lithian ambassador to Earth for what he is and is powerless to oppose him; this scenario it occurs to me now is rather like that in Black Easter And then after what everyone here agrees is a fantastic buildup the whole book falls apart leaving the reader frustrated over yet another disappointment It's genuinely tragicPoor Blish always seems to have been in a hurry; except in a few short stories and perhaps in Black Easter he never had time to sit down and get it right And he died uite young at the age of only 54 He's probably been sentenced to a few thousand years in Purgatory for all those spectacular missed opportunities But when he finally gets to Heaven I expect he'll have figured out how to stop doing it and he'll be able to settle down to his long term job as one of God's favorite jesters It's clearly what he was meant forI just looked up Blish on Wikipedia and discovered that he's buried near Kenneth Grahame author of The Wind in the Willows I hope they are now collaborating on a joint project though I must admit I'm having trouble imagining what it would look like


  2. says:

    Weird book But goodFirst of all this is first rate science fiction reminiscent of Samuel Delaney John Brunner Frank Herbert and Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land All the remarkable is to appreciate that this book was first published in 1958 before most of the other works mentioned He was well ahead of his timeIn a nutshell a Jesuit priest is a part of an advance party reconnaissance mission to scout out whether an alien world is suitable for human colonization The team will also determine if human settlement is conducive to the pre existing native life and to issue a recommendationThe planet is the home of a highly intelligent race of tall kangaroo like lizards called the Lithians Their world is a utopia of reason with no war and only minor conflict Their world and the circumstances surrounding the Jesuit’s investigation presents startling conseuences And the premise for a damn fine science fiction novelThe similarities with Mary Doria Russell’s 1996 novel The Sparrow will make most readers of both realize to what extent Russell patterned her work after Blish’s 1958 book The Christian specifically Catholic themes will also remind some readers of Walter M Miller Jr’s 1960 post apocalyptic novel A Canticle for Leibowitz A Case of Conscience also contains mythic symbolism that further deepens the narrative toneFinally this 1959 Hugo Award winner is yet another classic science fiction work that clearly influenced the producers of the James Cameron film AvatarA must read for sci fi fantasy fans


  3. says:

    A Case of Conscience A Catholic priest faces aliens with morality but no religionOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureGreat A side dreadful B side This is James Blish’s 1959 Hugo winning SF novel expanded from the1953 novella Part One the original novella is set on planet Lithia introducing a race of reptilians with a perfect strife free society and innate sense of morality However to the consternation of Father Ramon Ruiz Sanchez they have no religion of any kind Their morality is inherent and they have no need of a religious framework to direct their actions As a Catholic Ruiz Sanchez cannot make heads or tails of this Without religion do the Lithians have souls? If so are they fallen into sin like humans or still in a state of grace like Adam and Eve? He struggles with this conundrum as well as the purpose of the expedition to Lithia which is to determine whether the planet should be exploited for its lithium or uarantined since the Lithians are clearly created by Satan to undermine the need for faith to form the basis for an ideal society It’s very unclear whether Blish thinks this is a legitimate debate or not and while it’s good for the author to let the reader decide I’d like to see Heinlein hold back on judgment for example this Part ends inconclusively with Ruiz Sanchez receiving an egg from his Lithian friend Chtexa to bring back to EarthPart 2Part 2 must be the most incoherent and poorly written second act ever in SF It’s about Egtverchi the Lithian born from that egg as he grows up in human society He uickly learns about the world and starts to uestion why humans are living in underground shelters brought about by earlier nuclear conflict In the process he causes a massive rebellion among the stir crazy people of Earth who are suffering from the psychosis of living undergroundAt the same time Ruiz Sanchez is brought before the Pope fore heresy since his suggestion that Satan created Lithia to undermine God is a form of Manichaeism a religion that posits a struggle between eually matched good and evil The Pope points out that Ruiz Sanchez may have been deceived by the Lithians and by extension Satan and that he should have performed an exorcism of the planet That wouldn’t have been my conclusion butThen the story does another sudden about turn and we discover that a scientist from the initial expedition has gone back to Lithia and is trying a dangerous experiment that may destroy the planet As Ruiz Sanchez performs his exorcism Lithia explodes Was it his exorcism that did it unraveling Satan’s illusion or merely the mad experiments of the scientists who destroyed an innocent and perfectly moral society? The story provides no answers and further no basis to form an opinionPart 2 was so badly constructed and garbled that I wonder what happened to James Blish when he wrote it It’s just a complete mess and actually got me fairly irritated I really cannot understand how this book won the Hugo Award that year A Case of Conscience is truly dated in every sense and it would almost certainly never be written or gain any following today The wooden characters and dialogue wouldn't withstand scrutiny and a philosophy centric story almost certainly would seem irrelevant in our information drenched hyper realist world While I consider the book a failure as a piece of SF literature it certainly deserves credit for its unlikely storyline and refusal to wrap things up neatly at the end However the deplorable uality of the latter half really makes it hard to take seriously It's clear that back in the 1950s authors often wrote good short stories and were then pushed by publishers to expand them into less satisfying longer works Of course the pendulum has swung too far the other way now since any genre work that wants to be taken seriously has to be at least 800 pages long But it is unfortunate that some early classics feel poorly constructed and that reflects the tenuous state of the genre back in the Golden Age of Astounding and Galaxy before full length SF really hit its stride


  4. says:

    45 stars I am a big fan of James Blish This book is an expansion of the earlier novella of the same name Part 1 of the book ie the original novella is a 60 star story and is extremely powerful Part 2 while good is not as exceptional and brings the overall rating for the book down to 45 stars Overall still a highly recommended read Reread on March 1 2010 Winner Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel 1959Nominee British Science Fiction Award Retro for Best Novel 1958Voted to Locus List of All Time Best Science Fiction Novel 1975


  5. says:

    1959 Hugo winner Honestly I expected to read something uite a bit different than the novel I did get I almost expected something like a conversation novel between heavily logical Spock like lizards and a man of the cloth from EarthWhat do I get instead? A novel with startlingly awesome biology standards very deep world building and a wonderfully surprising argument of Manichaeism For those not in the know it's the idea that there are two creators in the world one is good and one is evil Father Ruiz Sanchez is convinced that these perfectly rational and nearly Christ like lizards who are living a perfect life without religion are in fact the most perfect trap to throw humanity into perfect chaos and perdition After all this is a case of perfection without God and if the rest of humanity ever got it then it would be the time of Satan's rule over the earth for real The whole planet was after all a Creation of EvilHow gorgeous is this? Sure modern readers may or may not care for the religious argument bent but it is concise and beautiful as hell and it's ONLY THE SETUPMove ahead take the freely offered gift of one of the lizard young back to a future earth gone schizophrenic living underground in perpetual fear of nuclear holocaust and ready to tear itself apart Have one of these christ like lizards grow up knowing nothing but the monstrosity that humanity has become and because of the peculiar brilliance of his race and his deeply frustrated sense of being as much an outsider as practically everyone else living on Earth he speaks and breaks all the rules and becomes a pundit much much worse than anything Trump has to offer sparking chaos on a truly amazing scale Is he the hand of the antichrist indeed? Or is he only the corrupted reflection of ourselves? Brilliant And of course the end but I won't refer to the end It's also brilliant but of a different kind of lightI have a few issues with the writing but far far less than I might have guessed before picking up the text It's very thoughtful very smart and it shifts us with awesome speed between dialectical discourse to the absolute insanity of modern media Is this modern SF? No it came out in '58 And yet I was laughing along with the crazy inventions later on as if I were watching that classic movie The Network back in the 70's No no one was yelling from the rooftops I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any But the sentiment was there and the chaos of the novel was perfectHow come wonderful idea novels like this aren't hailed as beautiful representations of classic literature? Is it just because it is SF? So beautiful


  6. says:

    People don't write speculative fiction like this any by which I mean several things First this is dated Blish's world of dinosaur like pacifists living in perfect harmony and communicating with giant trees feels like something out of the golden age of science fiction and his view of a future earth where the cold war has driven mankind underground and insane feels like a 50s dystopia This is understandable since the book was written in the 50s but it calls the applicability of the story for modern readers into uestionHowever I think that this book is relevant precisely because nothing uite like it is being written today This is a morality tale with such straightforward plot and characters that modern readers and publishers will probably be turned off The cynical atheist the impotent humanist the diffident follower and the single minded catholic priest are not realistic characters They are rather representative constructs of universal impulses like what you would see in a morality play The plot is reminiscent of The man who fell to earth or The Dispossessed and like those books is mostly an excuse for some philosophic musings Unlike those books there is tremendous ambiguity as to the meaning of the events in the book Each character sees the same events but interprets them in wildly different ways Because the first and last perspective given is that of the priest there is some temptation to take his view as correct than the others I think that would be a callow mistake It's true that the cynic is very unsympathetic really downright despicable but Blish makes it clear that his viewpoint is meant to have a degree of validity even if mistakes are clearly madeIn short it's a book that's very simple to read and somewhat complex to think about That the interpretation of the final events range from salvation to a horrifying mistake is a clear indicator that there is going on here than the simple plot and characters which are somewhat offensive to our sophisticated modern palate The focus on the priest is explained by the title for it is his conscience with which the book is concerned Considering his final actions and what he thinks that he has accomplished by them makes the consideration of his conscience as complex a uestion as anyone could wish for


  7. says:

    A great thank you to James Blish and Open Road for the opportunity to read this book and offer an unbiased reviewIn the distant future a science team explores the planet Lithia The team includes the Jesuit priest Ruiz Sanchez They must determine whether the planet is appropriate for Earth's habitation The team is divided No member is as decisive in his judgement as Ruiz Sanchez however The planet seems just too good to be trueOnce back on Earth with prime samples investigation continues To celebrate one exceptional specimen a countess throws a party I couldn't help but singthere's no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going It was spot on WonkaAs this life form grows in popularity Ruiz Sanchez continues to see the seed of evil half naked commanding money fathering lies poisoning discourse compounding grief corrupting children killing love building armies It seems a bit excessive It's like saying freedom of speech is the devil's work Now I agree violent riots and calls to arms breed death and destruction which could be viewed as demonic tools We've all seen this lately with the way people have been acting after the elections There is nothing that makes sense about that Basically we have to know when to draw the line peaceful demonstration or tear gas? Thank you Blish for an obviously timeless story This has given me a lot to process tonight


  8. says:

    I feel like I'm getting closer and closer to being able to do a theme on Catholicism and science fiction I guess I'd have to recycle A Prayer for Leibowitz which we read in my book club already but then add Hyperion and The Sparrow and now to that list I could add A Case of Conscience One book and I'd be all set I come up with way themes than we'll ever have time to do but I enjoy thinking about themNote The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement You can read why I came to this decision hereIn the meantime you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook


  9. says:

    Premise In 2050 four men are on a commission to the planet Lithia They are there to evaluate the planet and its sentient natives and render a recommendation about future contact with Earth One man wants to turn the uniue geology of Lithia into a nuclear arms factory another is convinced the peaceful Lithian society could teach humanity a thing or two one is unsure where he stands and the fourth becomes convinced that since the Lithians have an orderly society without religion that they must be demonic in origin Yeah If you have been hanging around here for a while you already know I'm not going to like this guy In the second half the plot gets even weirderSome books I read on the wrong day Some books I read in the wrong year Some books I read too fast because they have to go back to the library Some books fall victim to all three so you can feel free to take this review with a grain of saltI was never going to wholeheartedly enjoy A Case of Conscience if only because Catholic theology makes my eyes glaze over As far as I can tell this is the story of a perfectly nice planet completely screwed over by idiotic humans who bring their baggage with them everywhere Since we follow said humans through many pages of their own internal maunderings I found the book ultimately pretty boring The science discussed has not aged well and it doesn't help that it seems to be recapitulating pun intended parts of Burrough's The People that Time ForgotThe larger problem is that I don't really care what happens to any of the human characters Admittedly Blish seems to make them intentionally unlikable Also there are completely obvious science fictional explanations for the behavior of the Lithians and the characters are too stupid to see themThe first half of the book was originally published as a novella and is not bad if dated and melodramatic But in the second half it completely switches gears and turns into a sort of weird cousin to Stranger in a Strange Land The humans are given a Lithian egg to take back with them to Earth They completely screw up the raising of such which is not pointed out enough and he grows up to be an amoral anarchist Which is kind of what Earth seemed to need in this awkwardly dystopian future so I'm not sure what the characters are complaining about There's a rather baroue sex party I guess to prove the dystopian ness or something? Father Ramon whines a lot about his moral failings and then there's riotsAnd then there's the end which I do appreciate for its ambiguity Unstated moral humans wreck everything and should be confined to their own planet for the safety of others I don't think that I'm entirely off base with my interpretation and I don't object to the moral given the circumstances but ultimately I found this book disjointed and depressing


  10. says:

    This is another of the the books on the classic sci fi list that I've been meaning to read This was written in 1958 and placed in 2050 It concerns a first encounter by man with a sentient species on another planet A 4 member team is sent to Lithia for the purpose of making a recommendation on whether to admit the planet to the League of Nations The first part of the book concerns these men and the debate that leads to their splintered decision One member of the team is a Jesuit priestbiologist He shocks the others by advocating that the planet not be admitted but rather be uartantined ie off limits to everyone The physicist Pete argues the planted should not be admitted but rather be kept a state secret and used as a place to develop nuclear weapons The chemist Mike advocates for the planet to be accepted as a full member of the League marveling at the society that has developed with its absence of greed and other human foibles and rationally based morals Part one ends with a senior Lithian giving the priest a gift in appreciation of his help with a problem a beautiful ceramic vase in which the Lithian son is gestating This part is very good and raises excellent points for considerationThe second part is focused on the development of the Lithian child which takes place in a United Nations laboratory Eventually he develops to the adult form of a Lithian but without having to undergo the hardships of a Lithian infancy Mike insists on petitioning the UN to have the Lithian declared a citizen so as to allow him to get out of the lab The Lithian however becomes uite a problem once he gets citizenship He uite easily promotes a revolution made easy because of conditions on earth However the revolution is uashed The Lithian for some unexplained reason sneaks onto a cargo ship to Lithia Things come to a head as Pete has been sent to Lithia to do some experimentation and is about to undertake an experiment that he has been told contains an error in the calculations it is based on which if carried out will be cause devastation Missing is any explanation on why the Lithians allow the UN to send Pete to undertake experimentation This part is not as focused as the first part and the development of the Lithian child as a character is uite weakAs other reviewers have commented there are similarities between this book and The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell Both raise uestions about religion and how to deal with sentient species that may be discovered All in all I like this book but it is not nuanced and haunting as The Sparrow


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