Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

A Case of Conscience by James Blish

A Case of Conscience (1958)

by James Blish

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,235356,433 (3.35)46
  1. 50
    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (kevinashley)
    kevinashley: Both of these books deal with the combined issues of first contact with aliens and religion, through the involvement of priests. Both leave open questions, and both are well-written.
  2. 10
    River of Gods by Ian McDonald (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Contact with an alien intelligence throws theological issues into relief; multiple human protagonists reflect scientific, authoritarian, and mystical/contemplative types; all in the context of credible extrapolation to a near-future society.
  3. 01
    That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made [Novelette] by Eric James Stone (bertilak)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 46 mentions

English (32)  Italian (2)  French (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
I REALLY did not like this book. Recognizing that it was something of a fable, I could accept such characteristics as the characters being no more than "types." What I couldn't abide was that it had a pre-Copernican moral sense about it, in that it carried an attitude all in the universe was created for the purpose of earthlings (and I'd narrow it down more finely to that, to Christian earthlings).

A group of Earth scientists spends time evaluating an inhabited planet 50 light-years away. Since the planet lacks iron, its technology has been prevented from becoming too sophisticated, but what is evident is that its culture is very well-integrated and peaceful. It displays little distrust and is even welcoming and accepting of the Earth visitors. So polite is everyone that one of the scientists who is also a Jesuit likens it to Eden.

But therein, he argues to his colleagues, lies the trap. Such a seductive culture could only be the product of Satan.

Say what?!

The Jesuit provides an argument on the basis of natural law--at least the theology of natural law as laid down by the medieval clerics--but this then presupposes that all in the universe exists (and God created it) only to conform to a specifically Earth/medieval Christian understanding of how the universe works. The Jesuit-scientist is obviously a Jesuit first and a scientist only distantly second, because rather than taking the data from his new experience with this gentle society to reconsider his dogma, he feels he must judge the situation according to his ingrained dogmatic position.

And the dogma is just crazy. What a wonderful society these other beings have! Of course, it must be the Devil's work! The logical contortions that must be taken reach this conclusion probably do conform to pre-Vatican II Catholic theology (the book was written in 1957). But that only indicates how contorted such theology was.

( )
1 vote kvrfan | Aug 19, 2016 |
Fra bagsiden:
Alle fire medlemmer af FNs undersøgelseskommission var enige i, at planeten Lithia så ud som et paradis, for de øgleagtige beboere levede en tilværelse som mennesket før syndefaldet.

Men VAR det et paradis?
Var denne planet overhovedet skabt a Gud?

Kommissionens biolog, jesuitten Ramon Ruiz-Sanchez, gjorde ved et tilfælde en fantatisk opdagelse ...
... og begyndte at spekulere på, om Lithia var en gigantisk fælde - ikke alene for ham, men for hele menneskeheden!
  mskarbiniks | May 7, 2016 |
A novel in which a Jesuit confronts a planet without any belief in any deity. He's finally forced by his Catholicism to cast an exorcism, which may have destroyed it. While he has qualms, he conforms to his order's rules. It passes an evening, and isn't comforting to Catholics. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jan 2, 2016 |
This is not literature, this is incomprehensible theology. This does not make sense. ( )
  StigE | Feb 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Blishprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Foss, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyrs, JacquesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
I schal declare the disposcioun of rome fro hys first making; ... and the seconde part schal declare ye holynesse of ye same place fro hys first crystendom; I schal not write but that I fynde in auctores or ellis that I sey with eye. John Capgrave : The Solace of Pilgrims.
Man only thinks when you prevent him from acting. — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Man only creates when fulfilment of action increases his enigma. — Gerald Heard
to Larry Shaw
First words
The stone door slammed.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The novella "A Case of Conscience" is book one in the novel with the same name
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345438353, Paperback)

The citizens of the planet Lithia are some of the most ethical sentient beings Father Ramon Ruiz-Sanchez has ever encountered. True, they have no literature, no fine arts, and don't understand the concept of recreation, but neither do they understand the concepts of greed, envy, lust, or any of the sins and vices that plague humankind. Their world seems darned near perfect. And that is just what disturbs the good Father.

First published in 1959, James Blish's Hugo Award-winning A Case of Conscience is science fiction at its very best: a fast-paced, intelligent story that offers plenty of action while at the same time explores complex questions of values and ethics. In this case, Blish has taken on the age-old battle of good vs. evil. Lithia poses a theological question that lies at the heart of this book: is God necessary for a moral society? The Lithians are nothing if not moral. Not only do they lack the seven deadly sins, they also lack original sin. And without any sort of religious framework, they have created the Christian ideal world, one that humans would be eager to study and emulate. But is it too perfect? Is it in fact, as Father Ruiz-Sanchez suspects, the work of The Adversary? And what role does Egtverchi, the young Lithian raised on Earth, play? Is he an innocent victim of circumstance, or will he bring about the Dies Irae, the day of the wrath of God, upon the earth? The fate of two worlds hinges on the answers to these questions, and will lead to an ancient earth heresy that shakes the Jesuit priest's beliefs to their very core.

A Case of Conscience is a brilliant piece of storytelling, and it packs a lot into a scant 242 pages. Most readers will probably finish the book in one sitting, unable to stop until the spectacular denouement. But the questions posed by this little-known gem will stay with you for days afterward. --P.M. Atterberry

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:36 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
2 avail.
42 wanted
4 pay3 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.35)
0.5 1
1 8
1.5 1
2 32
2.5 14
3 65
3.5 18
4 67
4.5 3
5 31


3 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 109,811,675 books! | Top bar: Always visible