A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
It is three thousand light-years to the Vatican. Once, I believed that space could have no power over faith, just as I believed the heavens declared the glory of God’s handiwork. Now I have seen that handiwork, and my faith is sorely troubled.
Priests in Space, and more particularly Jesuits in Space, are practically their own SF subgenres. Some of the more famous Priests in Space tales, Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow and James Blish’s A Case of Conscience, drag out the conflict of faith and science into longish philosophical novels. They’re a little too much for me. I prefer Arthur C. Clarke’s take in “The Star.” He condenses it all down to a few quick pages, tops it off with a thrilling twist ending, and doesn’t wallow in his own big ideas.
The story is narrated by a Jesuit scientist returning from a mission to study a distant exploded star. From the start he’s very clear that the findings of the mission have caused him to lose all faith in God. But why? Clarke sets up our expectations and then bowls them right over. I won’t give it away, but trust me it’s not the answer you’re thinking.
Don’t expect a well reasoned argument out of this tale. It doesn’t have one. But it’s nice, after all, to have an author prompt you to think or argue without trying to do all the reasoning for you.
Review by Matthew