A Case of Conscience

Father Ruiz-Sanchez is a dedicated man -- a priest who is also a cientist, and a cientist who is also a human being. He has found no insoluble conflicts in his beliefs or his philosoph... 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 capabl of faith or belief.

Confronted with a profound scientific riddle and ethical quandary, Father Ruiz-Sanchez soon finds himself torn between the follower of his faith, the eachings 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...
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Published September 5th 2000 by Del Rey (first published 1958
Original Title of the Book
A Case of Conscience
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gave it

( I come up with way more themes than we 'll ever have time to do, but I enjoy thinking about them.) Note: The remainde of this review has been withheld due to the chang in Goodreads policy and enforcement.

gave it

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 equel 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.

One of the most agreeable conceits of the novel is that Jesu is not recognized by anyone, and is never explicitly identified; it 's only when you get to the nove 's final sentence that Blish comes clean, and even then he phrases it cryptically.

And the same goes for the first volume: despite coming up with one of the best end-of-the-universe plots ever devised, in which the eaning of God 's Creation is triumphantly revealed on the nex page, the greater part of the essa is boring and flat.So it should be no surprise that A Case of Conscience is more of the same.

It 's genuinely tragic.Poor 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.

gave it

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 individualism.

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 quarantined since the Lithians are clearly created by Satan to undermine the need for religio 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 ba for the novelist to let the reader decide ( I ’ d like to see Heinlein hold back on judgment, for xample), this Part ends inconclusively with Ruiz-Sanchez receiving an egg from his Lithian friend Chtexa to bring back to Earth.Part 2Part 2 must be the most incomprehensible and poorly-written second act ever in SF.

In the process, he causes a massive rebellion among the stir-crazy people of Earth, who are suffering from the hysteri of living underground.At 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 fait that posits a struggle between equally-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 eart!

gave it

He was well ahead of his time.In a nutshell, a esuit priest is a part of an advance party reconnaissance mission to scout out whether an alien world is suitable for human colonization.

And the ide for a damn fine science fiction novel.The 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.

gave it

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 mankin into perfect chaos and perdition.

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 SETUP.Move 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 bette than anything Trump has to offer, sparking chaos on a truly amazing scale.

No, no one was yelling from the rooftops, " I 'm mad as hell and I 'm not going to take it any more! " But the sentiment was there and the chaos of the book was perfect.How come wonderful idea novels like this are n't hailed as beautiful representations of classic literature?

gave it

Ocampo was gifted a young Lithian embryo as he left the planet, and it develops in a cold, sterile lab environment without Lithia 's natural challenges or hazards.

This half lacks the first half 's focus, jumping across interesting but incomplete ideas, with some unbelievable developments in the process.A Case of Conscience is a ascinating but uneven work, a bit dated and clunky, and while its philosophical-theological debates are complex, they do n't make for a stimulating read.

Fans of '50s SF and those trying to read every Hugo winner should also be interested, but be warned: books that resonated in the genre back in the day do n't always remain as impactful or insightful 60 years later.A Case of Conscience is important for being one of the earliest " serious " SF genre novels to try and examine philosophical/religious issues, though I think it left me with more questions than answers.Full review, and more classic SF reviews, on my website.

gave it

A great thank you to James Blish and Open Road for the pportunity to read this memoi and offer an unbiased review.In the distant future a science team explores the planet Lithia.

The team includes the Jesuit priest, Ruiz-Sanchez.

I could n't help but sing, " there 's no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going ... " It was spot-on Wonka.As this life form grows in popularity, Ruiz-Sanchez continues to see the eed of evil- " half-naked, commanding money, fathering lies, poisoning discourse, compounding grief, corrupting children, killing love, building armies ".

gave it

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 chemist ( Mike) advocates for the eart to be accepted as a full member of the League, marveling at the society that has developed, with its absence of reed and other human foibles and rationally-based morals.

This part is very ba and raises excellent points for consideration.The second part is focused on the integration of the Lithian " child, " which takes place in a United Nations laboratory.

( 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 irst part and the improvement of the Lithian child as a haracter is quite weak.As other reviewers have commented, there are difference between this nove and The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.

gave it

Part 1 of the novel ( i.e., the original novella) is a 6.0 star story and is extremely powerful.

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