Part 1[ edit ] In , Father Ramon Ruiz-Sanchez of Peru , Clerk Regular of the Society of Jesus , is a member of a four-man team of scientists sent to the planet Lithia to determine if it can be opened to human contact. Ruiz-Sanchez is a biologist and biochemist, and he serves as the team doctor. However, as a Jesuit , he has religious concerns as well. The planet is inhabited by a race of intelligent bipedal reptile -like creatures, the Lithians.
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The first expedition to Rakhat, the world that is sending the music, is organized by the Society of Jesus Jesuits , known for its missionary , linguistic and scientific activities since the time of its founder, Ignatius of Loyola. In the year , only one of the crew, the Jesuit priest Emilio Sandoz, survives to return to Earth, and he is damaged physically and psychologically.
Sandoz grew up in La Perla , a poor neighborhood, and joined the Jesuits as a teenager. After several stints at Jesuit missionaries around the world, he returns to Puerto Rico. Several of his close friends and co-workers, people with a variety of unique skills and talents, have seemingly coincidental connections to Arecibo.
One of them, a gifted young technician, was the first to hear the transmissions; another, Sofia Mendes, a Turkish Jewish artificial intelligence specialist, has the connections and aptitude to obtain a spacecraft and help pilot the mission. Sandoz and his friends, along with three other Jesuit priests, are chosen by the Society of Jesus to travel in secret to the planet, using an interstellar vessel made with a small asteroid.
Upon reaching Rakhat, the crew tries to acclimatize themselves to the new world, experimenting with eating local flora and fauna , then making contact with a rural village, inhabited by a peaceful tribe of vegetarian gatherers , the Runa.
Though clearly not the singers of the radio broadcasts, the Earthlings settle among the Runa and begin to learn their language, known as Ruanja, and culture. Although Sandoz struggles with his attraction to Sofia, he finds greater spiritual meaning in his interactions with the Runa. The crew transmits all their findings via computer uplink to the asteroid-ship in orbit. One day, in an attempt to retrieve supplies from their landing vehicle for a sick crew member, the landing vehicle runs short of the fuel needed to safely return to the asteroid ship, and the crew must face the reality that they may never return to Earth.
Meanwhile, the crew begins to grow their own food, introducing the concept of agriculture to the villagers. These seemingly innocent actions and accompanying cultural misunderstandings precipitate an outbreak of violence. Only Sandoz and one other human survive, and Sandoz endures capture, degradation, and a crisis of faith. The mutilation kills the other surviving crew member; Sandoz survives, though he is physically and spiritually traumatized and believes himself at fault for the death of his friends.
Later, Supaari gives Sandoz away to the Reshtar of Galatna, the poet and musician behind the music originally heard on Earth, in exchange for the right to have a wife and start his own lineage.
Held captive by the Reshtar, Sandoz realizes the Reshtar is the source of the music that brought them to Rakhat and momentarily regains his faith; however, the Reshtar is only interested in Sandoz as a pet and he is forced to sexually satisfy the musician, along with his friends and colleagues. It is later revealed that the Reshtar broadcasts songs about his sexual exploits, songs which may have been heard on Earth.
When Sandoz returns to Earth in , his friends are dead, and his faith, once considered worthy of canonization by his superiors, has turned into bitter anger with the God who inspired him to go to Rakhat.
The Jesuits shelter Sandoz from the media and help him recover physically, while the Father Superior selects a panel of Jesuit priests from around the world to help Sandoz come out of his shell and explain what really happened.
Over the course of several months, Sandoz painfully explains his story and begins his personal healing. It also involves a Jesuit priest confronting an alien civilization. People have told me that the protagonist is named Ruiz-Sanchez, so they thought I must have named Emilio Sandoz in homage to Blish. Danny got a cold in when I started the book, and I noticed the name Sandoz on the medicine label and thought it sounded good. Kane writes that Russell has done her research on the early historic Jesuit missions and on Jesuit spirituality.
He continues that she is successfully updating the stories of other important Jesuits who have sent men to distant lands or went themselves to foreign cultures to represent Christianity.
The first expedition to Rakhat, the world that is sending the music, is organized by the Society of Jesus Jesuits , known for its missionary , linguistic and scientific activities since the time of its founder, Ignatius of Loyola. In the year , only one of the crew, the Jesuit priest Emilio Sandoz, survives to return to Earth, and he is damaged physically and psychologically. Sandoz grew up in La Perla , a poor neighborhood, and joined the Jesuits as a teenager. After several stints at Jesuit missionaries around the world, he returns to Puerto Rico. Several of his close friends and co-workers, people with a variety of unique skills and talents, have seemingly coincidental connections to Arecibo.
A Case of Conscience by James Blish
This essay first appeared at his blog, Breadtag Sagas. An age it seems where peer reviewed science can be debated as if there could be another side. One can always drag up an extreme scientist or pseudo-scientist, not part of the mainstream, to help. Creationism or anti-evolution and climate science are good examples. The modern synthesis theory of evolution was formulated in the s.
A Case of Conscience
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. In his longest work, the four-volume Cities in Flight, Blish developed an even more grandiose and imaginative concept. The first volume depicts the Second Coming of Christ, and the concept is once again excellent. 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. Alas, this brilliant idea is again spoiled by poor writing. So it should be no surprise that A Case of Conscience is more 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.
Dick , If: Worlds of Science Fiction, aprile , pag. Quinn, un editore di New York. Il primo numero di If era datato marzo , con Fairman come curatore ; conteneva storie di Richard S. Shaw, un attivo appassionato di fantascienza che aveva venduto qualche racconto. Il concorso era aperto a studenti del college che in precedenza non avevano mai venduto una storia. Giunsero contributi da scrittori che sarebbero divenuti in seguito famosi, tra i quali Harlan Ellison , Roger Zelazny e Andrew J. Offutt, il cui racconto And Gone Tomorrow, incentrato su di un uomo spedito inaspettatamente mille anni nel futuro, vinse il primo premio e fu pubblicato nel numero di dicembre di If.