Other Worlds

The SparrowUnusual for me, I’ve just finished two books with sci-fi/other worldly themes that took me from the past and present and dropped me off in nearly the same places in the near future, 30 or 40 years from now.

The first book is The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell which I consumed in audiobook format. I avoided this one for a bit, despite the great reviews I read about it, because I’m not particularly interested in literature that deals with theological themes. But the premise of this book is interesting: after discovering beautiful music coming from a distant but relatively neighboring planet, a contact party, funded and organized by the Jesuits, is sent to the planet to make contact with the singers. How the seven members of the mission (not all of them Jesuits) came to be chosen to go and what happened to them is told in a series of flashbacks after Father Emilio Sandoz, the only survivor of the party, returns to earth in terrible physical, mental, and emotional condition. His hands have been grotesquely mutilated but it is his mind, emotions, and faith that have suffered even more. The first half of the book is ultra suspenseful as Russell builds the background for the mission before she reveals just what happened to Sandoz and his comrades. And what happens to him and his friends is pretty horrifying, once all revealed. Continue reading

All the World’s a Stage…. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station ElevenIn Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, most of humanity has succumbed to a wicked strain of influenza. This strain kills people within days if not hours. Some people who have been isolated or possess immunity survive. The story is told from several viewpoints and time periods. All the main characters intersect in some way with one Arthur Leander, a famous actor, who dies suddenly of heart failure on the stage while performing King Lear several weeks before the epidemic breaks out. Mandel tells us some of Arthur’s story, before the epidemic, and the stories of two others who were present the night of his death.

Continue reading