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Infinite Space, Infinite God

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Discover what readers and reviewers are saying about Infinite Space, Infinite God.

Cynthia MacKinnon at www.lostgenreguild.com

 

Like any Christian Science Fiction, the idea of Catholic SF seems to be a contradiction in terms—perhaps more so given the infamous stands the Catholic Church has taken against against scientific theory all those centuries ago. But, Galileo's trial is ancient history and for the last 1000 years, Catholic scientists (including priest, monks and even some saints) have received encouragement and support from the church. It is no wonder, then, that writers have become fascinated with the concept of how the Catholic church will meet the challenges of the future—and SF is just the vehicle for this.


This 2007 EPPIE award-winning anthology includes SF concepts from time travel to transporter technology, genetic engineering to alien abduction, interstellarcolonization and uncontrolled inter-city violence told from a Catholic world view. All of the ISIG short stories are well-crafted and entertaining—the latter a real surprise for me considering that I do not number among the millions of sci-fi fans in this world. The range of intensity in this volume kept me reading because I couldn't predict what I'd discover when I turned another page. We see the teenager Frankie off to evangelize to alien beings; we sit with Saint Francis of Assisi as he ministers to the needs of a mannaro; we make the pilgrimmage alongside an IRA 'terrorist' as he makes his way through the stations to enlightment. The three described above: "Interstellar Calling," "Canticle of the Wolf," and "A Cruel and Unusual Punishment" were my favourites. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the stories included in Infinite Space Infinite God and liked the fact that they forced me to ponder and question. And one more thing, it is pretty darn refreshing to read good fiction that does not haul out the fictional stereotypes of manical monk or preying priest or nasty nun.

 

Grace Bridges at www.gracebridges.blogspot.com

 

Monday, April 02, 2007

Catholic science fiction? Seeing is believing...

Are you ready to have your imagination expanded beyond what you thought possible, while doing some serious thinking? Then this is the book for you. This extraordinary collection of fifteen science fiction short stories from a Catholic viewpoint will take you places you’ve never dreamed of. Hold on tight…

Walk beside a priest on a moonbase, then a soldier on Mars, as they each face the question of whether clones and reconstructed people have souls. In fact, the issue of cloning and genetic manipulation is handled from many different angles, shedding much light on the questions that must arise. Part-animal humans appear more than once and are sometimes discriminated against, sometimes beloved by children, and once even rescued by Saint Francis from the hatred of a Middle Ages community.

An unlikely evangelist is abducted by aliens, while in another place the mystical communion wafers are miraculously multiplied on an isolated asteroid. A hermit monk, seeking silence, acknowledges his call to a raucous moonport, and a young girl finds her destiny as a gun-toting bodyguard nun. A century of isolation causes the community on a lost ship to begin worshipping the earth, while two true believers help an unwitting visitor to escape the cult’s clutches. Appearances of Mary and the saints contribute here and there to the launch of a colony starship and the saving of a space station. The last two tales take up the rather more disturbing topics of deadly time-travel and the computer-aided confession of a Catholic terrorist.

These stories cover an immense breadth and depth of subject matter, locations on Earth, on the moon, and in far-off star systems. While I’m not a Catholic, many of the issues addressed are relevant for all Christians, and the things I found strange do provide some fascinating insights into Catholic thought and theology. In short, this anthology blows classic speculative fiction out of the water time and time again with amazing twists on the eternal question: “What if…” while giving you just enough time, in each longish short story, to ponder a little along these lines for yourself.

Each time I picked up this book to read a story, I came away enriched somehow by the multitude of new possibilities opening up around every corner. “What if” really is a much bigger question than I ever thought. The dark side of each new realm of possibility also plays a big part. Don’t expect a bunch of happy endings – rather, expect realistic results in a world that is every bit as tough as our present day, if not even tougher, as man penetrates the void of space. But hope also shines through in the midst of desperate circumstances.

I believe good science fiction should, among other things, always stretch your brain – and that’s just what this collection has done for me…fifteen times over. Watch out world – the Fabians are coming! And it looks like they're bringing their friends...

PJ for Scottieluvr’s “Chewing the Bone” reviews

 

Catholic Science Fiction is not a genre widely recognized. Although when Googled, using “Catholic Science Fiction”, I received well over a million hits, so maybe not widely familiar by many readers, but a well used/referenced genre nonetheless. In their introduction the authors’ point out that according to one survey science fiction writers are predominately Catholic. Well, after reading this anthology, I will not dispute this claim. The introduction also lists renowned scientists who have initiated much of our science history today, who are Catholic. Hmmmmm… I do see a pattern here.

 

For those not familiar with Catholicism, the Fabians provide valuable insight into the religion’s beliefs and purpose with short excerpts that aided my understanding of the Catholic religion. Regardless, this review is about the science fiction writers presented below.  I can drown you in adjectives and other descriptive words, but these few words have stayed with me throughout my reading: These stories are awesome!

 

The Harvest by Lori Z. Scott

 

Clever and thought provoking, The Harvest tells of an oppressed woman longing for freedom from the people who governed her. Then one man’s awakening to his true life purpose; minister healing to the body and soul of ALL people. Ms. Scott writes an enthralling read that combines a great story line brought to life by dynamic characters.

 

Hopkins Well by Adrienne Ray

 

Seeking religious freedom, a group of Earth people successfully colonize Mars, where their government failed. Hopkins’ Well possesses strong characters that bring to life an engaging story. Father Augustine is a breath of fresh air with his reasonable demeanor and honesty, compared to Sergeant Bethesda’s suspicious and high-handed attitude.

 

Brother John by Colleen Drippé

 

Brother John is a complex but riveting story surrounding the Starship Xavier’s evangelical crusade in distant star systems. Ms. Drippé pens a skillful sci-fi, immersing me in a rich story foundation, while fueled by compelling characters.

 

Interstellar Calling by Karina L. Fabian

 

An adorable short story, Interstellar Calling addresses the suffering questions of all God-fearing people and their struggle in finding the answers. The pivotal point in this story is when Frankie states that she too is lost and cannot help them. The alien then responds, “But you have directions?  The innocent beauty of those four simple words sends tingles through my body. It’s glorious!

 

Our Daily Bread by Karina L. and Robert A. Fabian

 

Conceived beautifully, Our Daily Bread details how a calamity triggers an event outside of human intervention. The Fabians masterfully orchestrate this miracle which I felt believable and wholly spiritual. The characters, genuine and endearing, only helped make this story a provoking read.

 

Brother Jubal in the Womb of Silence by Tim Myers

 

Mr. Myers writes a profound tale with a strong plot, and corporeal characters. Not a light read, but an absorbing one for sure. Brother Jubal in the Womb of Silence describes a monk’s reverent isolation on the Moon. Many times he perches upon boulders thinking soul wrenching thoughts and quoting scriptures or other written spiritual works. His friend Ronnie, from Drake Lunar, adds some liveliness to the story, which is refreshing.

 

Mask of the Ferret by Alan Loewen and Ken Pick

 

Quite an imaginative universe, Mask of the Ferret boasts para-humans - humans with animal characteristics, and then there are Artificials - animals re-engineered into humans. Mr. Loewen and Mr. Pick obviously make a splendid team, for their combined imaginations make this an absorbing and clever read. Together with a distinct animal-like cast, including wholly human characters, support the suspenseful plot. This is a fascinating tale!

 

Little Madeleine by Dr. Simon Morden

 

The story’s plot is tangible as the stark desolation of her world is made real through strong, almost earthy, characters. Dr. Morden composes an inviting spin on Patron Saint, St. Joan of Arc as Little Madeleine unfurls a dark story of a young teenager’s survival in a run-down London Metro Zone. Feeling hopeless, Madeleine grapples with the decision to join the Order of Saint Joan the Protector. I sense her struggle, while Madeleine believes herself unworthy of the Order, but most importantly, to God.

 

The Hosts of the Envoy by Alex Lobdell

 

The Hosts of the Envoy is an amusing, but endearing story that focuses on the fragility of one’s faith in moments of despair; especially a hopelessness that flows over a century. As characters go, Luke is lively and the children enchanting, but all build upon the solid foundation of the plot. A spiritual story that I enjoyed immensely.

 

Understanding by J. Sherer

 

Mr. Sherer writes an engrossing story about a cop who loses his faith when a child, only to regain it in adulthood. The plot is strong as a serial killer targets Catholic priests and leaves few clues behind regarding his motive. A break in the case shows the priests genetically engineered one way or another. This piece of evidence brings up a past Tack’s not ready to face again. Understanding is a stimulating read with strong and captivating characters.

 

Stabat Mater by Rose Diamond

 

Stabat Mater tells of Father Hugh, Teresa and the Pope trekking across the country to make flight to the planet Sanctuary; a mission that will colonize a planet with many religious orders and people. During the journey, Father Hugh and Teresa’s faith falters as they question their worthiness, but strengthens as they seek and find answers. Ms. Dimond writes a delightful story line together with enchanting and real characters that make the read captivating. I found the Pope’s humor refreshing in light of the seriousness of their quest.

 

Canticle of the Wolf by Alan Loewen

 

A pleasing tale that is imaginative and feeling. Canticle of the Wolf is about how God wanted a village to witness Brother Francis’ godliness. I am charmed by this endearing story when Brother Francis attends to the wolf’s wounds without hesitation but with care. The alluring characters create an enchanting read as the wolf and Brother Francis share their tales of man’s betrayal, but how good may come from the experience.

 

These Three by Karina L. and Robert A. Fabian

 

Another well composed piece from the Fabian writing team. A fantastic and entertaining story that holds me captive with its superb plot and natural characters; though sprinkled with humor. These Three describes an idealistic, yet unskilled young man wanting to be a spacer. I think the most obvious point in the story is with Peter. Although everyone rejoices in him, Peter’s lesson concludes he lacks faith in himself. With the guiding spiritual support of The Blessed Gillian, Peter begins a journey in saving space station L5 and the Poubelle, along with renewing his beliefs.

 

Far Traveler by Colleen Drippé

 

I am captivated as Ms. Drippé writes a brisk and clever adventure for Federal Agent Kendall. To actually witness the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is humbling to me. In the Far Traveler, Mark is so caught up in the scene, acting out before him, that he keeps forgetting to take the pictures. While he watches Jesus’ struggle in carrying the cross, Mark is overcome with disbelief that this actually occurred. Then once he affirms the reality playing out before him, Mark succumbs to grief at his turning away from his faith. But Mark returns home with a message – read the story to get that message.

 

A Cruel and Unusual Punishment by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

 

Ms. Bohnhoff composes a beautiful, but wholly spiritual story that incorporates redemption and forgiveness through enlightenment. In A Cruel and Unusual Punishment she shows me how Liam slowly comes to terms with his crimes and how his redemption, forgiveness and finally atonement are what will free him. I found this story the most moving and spiritually provoking.

 

In closing…

 

Infinite Space, Infinite God is an excellent collection of science fiction short stories. These authors’ imaginations are astounding, pulling me into each and every story from the first paragraph, and then masterfully entwining their writings with Catholicism. The characters come alive in vivid detail making each story’s uniqueness stand on their own merit. Highly recommended, not only to devoted sci-fi readers, but to those who have never read the genre before.

 

"Life at the Frontier":

 

...picture an order of nuns who live in space and perform search and rescue missions. Karina and her husband Rob are publishing an anthology of Catholic science fiction called Infinite Space, Infinite God.

I've been giving thought to the Church's role in the expanding frontier, and I believe this kind of literature is a tremendous way to explore this topic. I've only begun to explore these two fascinating sites. (I've also added the links to my sidebar.) I recommend you check them out too.

Gabriel Mckee for "SFGospel":

Infinite Space, Infinite God, edited by Karina and Robert Fabian is billed as an anthology of Catholic SF, but it’s much more than that. The 15 stories cover broad thematic ground, and though the Catholic Church plays a role in all of them, each story offers a vastly different perspective. This volume isn’t just of interest to Catholics—it’s good SF that engages in exactly the kind of speculation that keeps the genre vibrant. The editors’ introductions to the stories are intelligent and informative, giving some excellent background data on the specific aspects of the church that the stories explore. It’s a great anthology, and it’s fitting that it was recently nominated for an EPPIE Award.

Faith and Fiction for the Thoughtful Reader.