Peter volunteers for a mission post in a world that is light years away.
Although the primary plot is the exploration of a human missionary to an alien world, there are many layers here, strengthened by Faber's immersive storytelling: the foundering of a codependent relationship; the exploitation of a capitalist venture on an unspoiled landscape; the power of belief to assuage the fear of existential insignificance. I enjoy this book more with each re-read.
Fantastic novel that uses the sci-fi genre in startling and bold ways. Similar to what he did with the Victorian novel in "The Crimson Petal and the White," Michael Faber reinvigorates a tired, familiar genre. One of the best novels of this century. Also see "Under the Skin."
Humanity has found out that they're not alone in the universe when they discover an inhabited planet, who refer to themselves as Oasans. Earthlings send a born-again preacher to teach them about the bible, while Earth is on the verge of collapsing economically, politically, environmentally, etc... This book is incredibly mediocre in a good way because it doesn't try to get overly sci-fi-ish or pretentious in its symbolism.
- @Florence of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library
A strange little story, well told. I enjoyed it and found it very atmospheric. The planet on which the story happens will be in my mind for a long time.
This book took a hold of me and never let go. In the beginning, I don't feel much connected to the minister couple. Such people with their closeness, dependency to each other and judgmental opinions usually drive me away. The wife Bea is kind of petty and that will not be a good thing for a long distance relationship. As soon as Peter got on to the space ship, everything changes. I like the dynamic of the story and all the new things that he encounter. Its not the brave new world but its fun and kind of realistic at some level. I usually am not a Sci Fi reader and have not read any of his books but now I'll try to read his other works.
I was utterly absorbed by this story of how two people of faith struggle to maintain said faith and a loving marriage during a long separation. Peter, a young Christian pastor, leaves Earth and his wife Bea to accept a six month missionary posting on another planet, where his "flock" is not the "human" colonizers but the indigenous community. Faber makes the epistolary novel relevant again: Peter and Bea email each other, but as he becomes more immersed in his new surroundings his efforts to maintain their mutual support falter, as Bea becomes more despairing about personal and worldwide catastrophes back home. Meanwhile Peter is confronted by several mysteries, including: trying to understand the culture he ministers to, the question of what happened to his predecessor, and why exactly humans are colonizing the planet. All typical SciFi themes, but the outcomes are far from conventional. I did reach the end of the book with some disappointment that many mysteries remained unsolved, but we are left with a sense that Peter and Bea's story, and the story of two planets, is ongoing. I am hopeful there might be a sequel? I will definitely read more of Faber's work.
This book was SO anti-climatic. Yes it is sci-fi but it also hints at the end of the world as we know it. Throughout the book we get hints back home from the wife that our world is falling apart and this big mysterious organization that the main character is working for is a bit suspicious...but the book never really goes there...it is more about him living with these aliens and his thoughts. I guess I would say that if you are into theology then you might like this book. But the ending of the book made me feel like the author met his writing quote and said "whelp I better end this quick." I kept reading in hopes that it would get better or something dramatic would happen BUT IT NEVER DID.
A literary sci-fi story set in the future, in which the main character, Peter (a Christian minister), voyages to an alien planet named Oasis to fulfill a missionary role. The story tells of his experiences on this world, what he learns and how he changes, and the effects of this upon his relationship with his wife, Bea (who is still on Earth). A type of slow interplanetary email is the only means of communication between Earth and Oasis, resulting in a portion of the novel being epistolary. The book is 1) a portrait of a marriage (from both sides), 2) a deep religious probing of truth and faith, and 3) an imaginative, fascinating sci-fi story. Faber very creatively incorporates alien words into the book, and somehow magically makes everything extremely realistic, even the alien planet and its natives. The book was praised by some of the biggest authors in current mainstream fiction. A personal favorite of mine.
I had a hard time choosing what to rate this book. 3 stars for good ideas and good start, but 2 stars for the rest of the book. I chose to read this book based on reviews that said it was a page turner and one difficult to put down. That is just the kind of book I was looking for but that is not the kind of book this is. This is not a book that is designed to tell a great story with a clear beginning middle and end, but is one designed to lead a reader to think about love, life, and faith. I enjoyed the philological nature to the book and I think if it was a short story or a novella I would have really like it. It starts out interesting with some great ideas. Then the middle get boring, it drags. The beginning hints at a mysterious big cooperation that may be evil, tempts the reader with what the new planet may be like and the new aliens, and what will happen to the happy perfect couple that are the main characters. There is so much potential for a great story here, but this book goes for making the reader think, not answering questions. So the book ends without revealing much about anything. I like it when a book leave stuff to the imagination, but this book took it to far. I found the book very disappointing.
The Book of Strange New Things is the story of an alien world and its native population, but it is also the story of a pastor, Peter, sent to minister to these aliens. In fact, Peter's journey of faith is the primary story here, much in the same way Job is the focus of Job (fancy that). Many parallels can be drawn between Peter and Job, as they can be drawn also to Adam, Jesus, Paul, and, yes, Peter. Needless to say, Peter (Father Peter to the native inhabitants) experiences several crises of faith that will test him.
What makes this book is the incredible worlds Faber builds, not only on the planet of Oasis, but within our protagonist. The descriptions of the Oasan's language, their appearance, and their world are as expertly crafted as the descriptions of a lonely, driven pastor from planet Earth. The Book of Strange New Things is a beautiful novel that perhaps ends a little too slowly, but remains an exploration of another world and of faith that is not easily forgotten.
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