That may have all changed.
When Karina Fabian emailed a group list I’m on, asking for reviewers for her and her husband’s new Catholic sci-fi anthology, I figured I had nothing to lose. I’ve been getting my toes wet with sci-fi, after all, and so many of the great minds in my life are avid sci-fi readers that I can’t help but stick my curious little nose into some of their books.
So when I bring Infinite Space, Infinite God to you, it is not as one who is an expert on sci-fi or even much of a fan. I bring it to you as a fellow reader, as one whose life is faithfully immersed in books and whose favorite pastime involves hours spent in a world of someone else’s making. (Perhaps the next best thing to the reading of great books is the sharing of them, but that might just be my extreme extrovert coming to the surface.)
It’s no surprise to me, after having devoured the whole thing once and having made plans to share it with at least two or three avid readers I know, that this won the 2007 EPPIE. It’s no surprise that the other reviews I’ve read have raved about it. I’m raving myself. Now, granted, I’m a Catholic. So from that perspective, this book is the best of my favorite things – teachings of the Church and wonderings of the mind in the form of fiction. I don’t know much about the realm of science fiction, but the adventure and the unexpected come together over and over, through 13 different authors’ imaginations. Some of the premises seem far-fetched, at first, to consider. And yet, when I found myself in the world the author had made – worlds that are strangely familiar to our current time and place – I could only nod and see exactly how they reached that point.
ISIG is divided into sections, and I found this delightful. I traveled from some of the scariest considerations I’ve ever read in fiction – regarding genetic engineering and what it means to be human and have a soul – to what evangelism means in a truly universal sense. Just what will it take to be canonized in a universe that includes other worlds and other forms of travel? Who are the poorest of the poor and the tossed aside once we have modified our way into a whole new existence?
The authors and the editors of ISIG have woven a tapestry of applied Catholic teaching and current Catholic questioning. Even as we debate stem cell research and fight the horrors of abortion in our own time, these men and women are pushing the boundaries and blazing into the next set of ethical dilemmas we stand to face.
Is there more fiction like this? I’m certainly inspired to look. It has been among the most terrifying reading I’ve done, and also among the most invigorating. It has filled my mind with possibilities and hope, even as it made me consider the eternal importance of what we do when we profess our faith and live our lives as God has called us.
This sounds like an interesting collection. Is this book suitable for young readers? And if so, what age ranges?
Mark, I would think it would be OK for young readers. I would think a 12-year-old would understand the stories. I’m going off memory here; I would recommend you check it out first, but there’s certainly nothing offensive in it. Some of the ideas presented might be the kind of thing you would want to read WITH your young reader (i.e. in one of the stories, a woman is ordained…and I did not have any issues with this, because of the context – but it does NOT imply that women’s ordination is OK now, but again, something that might be appropriate to accompany a young reader on).
As one of the authors, I’d rate the book PG. Primarily for serious, sometimes dark subjects. Being an antholgy, it’ll vary from story to story, but averages PG and peaks between PG & PG-13.
“Is there something offensive in it?” is the wrong question to ask in this context, and can all too easily slide into a Church Lady witch-hunt. “Offending nobody” is the undisturbed contented sleep that slides easily into Death and Hell.
ISIG is a wide-ranging sampler of classic SF with a Catholic theme binding it together. It is NOT “Catholic Science Fiction” per se, but “SF with a Catholic twist”; the difference comes in which of the two are pre-eminent, storytelling or dogma.
With me, it was the storytelling. My roots are in classic lit-SF, not the CBA; my contribution was written as something that could have gone head-to-head with Poul Anderson or H.Beam Piper in their prime, not something that would appear next to Left Behind.
Co-author, “Mask of the Ferret”
(Somewhat hard space-opera.)
Thanks for sharing your perspectives. It’ll be a few years before I can read this with my boys, but until then I can enjoy it myself.