HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Loading...

The Sparrow (1996)

by Mary Doria Russell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Sparrow (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,743254988 (4.2)1 / 634
  1. 110
    Children of God by Mary Doria Russell (mrstreme)
  2. 102
    A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (prezzey)
    prezzey: Both are good solid science fiction novels featuring Roman Catholic monks.
  3. 61
    A Case of Conscience by James Blish (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.
  4. 41
    Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (sturlington)
    sturlington: Also about first contact with an alien civilization that humans cannot understand.
  5. 10
    Dark Eden by Chris Beckett (JGoto)
    JGoto: Not quite as good, but some similar themes and an interesting read.
  6. 10
    The Keys of the Kingdom by A. J. Cronin (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Missionary priests deal with abuse, spiritual questioning and alien cultures
  7. 10
    Daniel Stein, Interpreter: A Novel in Documents by Ljudmila Ulitskaya (spiphany)
    spiphany: A central theme of both books is the examination of faith, both within and outside of organized religion
  8. 21
    The Dazzle of Day by Molly Gloss (Rivercrest)
    Rivercrest: Dazzle of Day explores the trials of community living and community choices in the same context as Sparrow; space flight, alien landscapes and religous exploration. It also has the same deft use of language, visual descriptions and charecter development. And though I love Sparrow and go back to it time and again, I like how the author ends Dazzle of Day better. Enjoy.… (more)
  9. 21
    Under the Skin by Michel Faber (Anonymous user)
  10. 10
    Bright of the Sky by Kay Kenyon (Anonymous user)
  11. 21
    Archangel by Sharon Shinn (espertus)
  12. 00
    Anathem by Neal Stephenson (quartzite)
    quartzite: Both books deal with key groups of people preparing to meet alien cultures with a bit of theology and philosophy thrown in.
  13. 00
    Eifelheim by Michael Flynn (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Another Catholic priest deals with aliens
  14. 00
    Eden by Stanisław Lem (pitjrw)
    pitjrw: A much better book on the uncertainties, misapprehensions, and danger of first contact.
  15. 01
    Wulfsyarn by Phillip Mann (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Both feature an unusual mix of alien contact and religion
  16. 01
    Hyperion by Dan Simmons (tetrachromat)
    tetrachromat: Both juxtapose religion and science fiction. Hyperion is also [IMHO] a significantly better book.
Loading...

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

English (249)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Japanese (1)  All languages (253)
Showing 1-5 of 249 (next | show all)
This One Will Stay with You

Cautionary tale about first contact and The Law of Unintended Consequences, resulting in betrayal, loss, and shattered faith in God. I'm not sure I need to read it again, but I'm very glad I did. Powerful stuff. ( )
  Pat_F. | Jul 25, 2014 |
This book stirred up emotions in me, I can best sum up in the one word--disquieting. Science fiction is out of my comfort zone but this novel seemed interesting enough to try.

In the not-to-distant future, scientists searching for life on other planets, in a SETI-type project, hear beautiful music from a planet near Alpha Centauri. They want to explore and to bring back knowledge: a crew of eight: an engineer, a doctor, other scientists and several Jesuits make this interplanetary journey. The life on the planet starts benignly enough with the meeting of a friendly people, but the Earthlings begin dying; and once they reach the city of the beautiful music events lead swiftly to a horrific climax. This book was touted as a spiritual journey, but to me the end led nowhere. The book alternated between 2015-19 [preparations for the journey and events on the planet] then 2059-60 when the sole survivor has returned, broken in body and spirit, and tells his story to the Father General of the Jesuits.

The style was easy-to-read and the characters were interesting. Anything scientific or technical I just accepted, since I am neither an engineer, computer person, nor a physicist. I don't know nor care if the physics or technical stuff is true or bogus. I did wonder why, though, when the space travelers landed upon the planet, there was no need for space suits, why a garden of earth vegetables would grow so easily in a completely foreign atmosphere. I could see the garden was a literary device: a catalyst for what followed. I did wonder about sexual practices between the Earthlings and the Rakhatians; would they be so similar to ours?( ( )
  janerawoof | Jul 19, 2014 |
When I picked The Sparrow to include among my list of favorite books to re-read this year, I remembered being intrigued both by the plot and pacing of the story as well as by the themes explored. Re-reading the book allowed me to revisit an intriguing story while also thinking more deeply about challenging issues that Russell explores through her characters. The story tells of a mission to the planet Rakhat by an eclectic group of explorers - Jesuit priests, a doctor, an engineer, a linguist, and others. The explorers encounter two species and gradually piece together how society on Rakhat differs from society on earth. The story is told through flashbacks from an explorer who has returned to earth, and Russell does an amazing job of world building and developing complex characters.

However, it is the themes that underlie the story that sets this book apart from other similar exploration novels. One of the priests, Father Emilio Sandoz, firmly believes that God has created the opportunity for him to visit another society. At one point, he reflects on this: "Why, he had once wondered, would a perfect God create the universe? To be generous with it, he believed now. For the pleasure of seeing pure gifts appreciated. Maybe that's what it meant to find God: to see what you have been given, to know divine generosity, to appreciate the large things and the small. . ." (p. 253).

However, both Emilio and other members of the group struggle to understand God's role in some of the tragedies that occur. When Anne, the doctor in the group, questions why God would have allowed one of the expedition members to die, Father Marc Robichaux attempts an answer in a sermon at the funeral: "It is the human condition to ask questions like Anne's last night and to receive no plain answers. Perhaps this is because we can't understand the answers, because we are incapable of knowing God's ways and God's thoughts. We are, after all, only very clever tailless primates, doing the best we can, but limited. Perhaps we must all own up to being agnostic, unable to know the unknowable.. . The Jewish sages also tell us that God dances when His children defeat Him in argument, when they stand on their feet and use their minds. So questions like Anne's are worth asking. To ask them is a very fine kind of human behavior. If we keep demanding that God yield up His answers, perhaps some day we will understand them. And then we will be something more than clever apes, and we shall dance with God."

Russell doesn't provide easy answers to the questions that are raised in this book, but she does us all a service by exploring them from the perspective of multiple characters and by allowing enough space for us to reaching our own conclusions. This is a book that I could re-read often and still find new layers. ( )
2 vote porch_reader | Jul 5, 2014 |
Excellent character development. That's mainly what the book is about, the personal and theological development of a priest in space. Sure, because of the space part, it's listed as SF. In a way, of course, it is, but to me, this is no more SF than Kushiel's dart is romance. All the other SF I've read is about the SF things; this book is about the inner workings of the mind of Emilio Sandoz, Jesuite priest and linguist. Quite frankly, you could pick up the story and place it somewhere on earth without aliens, and it wouldn't change much.
It took me a little bit of time to get into it, get to know the different characters, but from that moment on I loved it. The only reason I'm not giving this 5 stars is because the aliens don't feel as real to me as Emilio does. It really feels as if the book is shifting gears every time it's describing the aliens or even taking their point of view. I like the aliens, and Russell clearly thought about their culture. It just doesn't feel as fleshed out, as deep as Emilio does. As a result, they feel a bit flat, as if they are just there to provide the riddle of what happened to Emilio, not because they have merit in their own right.

Still, I bought this book on paper today, even though I already bought the ebook, just because I wanted to have it... ( )
  zjakkelien | May 14, 2014 |
The author studied cultural, social, and biological anthropology, and it shows in this literary/science fiction novel. The story opens with a Jesuit priest resting and recuperating and facing repercussions after coming back to earth as the lone survivor of an exploratory expedition to another planet. He finally opens up and tells his story from the beginning, weaving a vibrant and fascinating tale both of his experiences here on Earth in the slums of Brazil and the amazing people he meets as well as his experiences on another planet meeting other life forms and trying to understand their culture. ( )
  michellebarton | May 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 249 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Doria Russellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
diBondone,GiottoCover artsecondary 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
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For Maura E. Kirby
and
Mary L. Dewing

quarum sine auspicio hic
liber in lucem non esset
editas
First words
On December 7, 2059, Emilio Sandoz was released from the isolation ward of Salvator Mundi Hospital in the middle of the night and transported in a bread van to the Jesuit Residence at Number 5 Borgo Santo Spirito, a few minutes' walk across St. Peter's Square from the Vatican.
Quotations
I don't understand, but I can learn if you will teach me.
"There are no beggars on Rakhat. There is no unemployment. There is no overcrowding. No starvation. No environmental degradation. There is no genetic disease. The elderly do not suffer decline. Those with terminal illness do not linger. They pay a terrible price for this system, but we too pay, Felipe, and the coin we use is the suffering of children. How many kids starved to death this afternoon, while we sat here? Just because their corpses aren't eaten doesn't make our species any more moral!"
"...Because if I was led by God to love God, step by step, as it seemed, if I accept that the beauty and the rapture were real and true, then the rest of it was God's will too, and that, gentlemen, is cause for bitterness. But if I am simply a deluded ape who took a lot of old folktales far too seriously, then I brought all this on myself and my companions and the whole business becomes farcical, doesn't it. The problem with atheism, I find, under these circumstances," he continued with academic exactitude, each word etched on the air with acid, "is that I have no one to despise but myself. If however, I choose to believe that God is vicious, then at least I have the solace of hating God."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
A novel about a remarkable man, a living saint, a life-long celibate and Jesuit priest, who undergoes an experience so harrowing and profound that it makes him question the existence of God. This experience--the first contact between human beings and intelligent extraterrestrial life--begins with a small mistake and ends in a horrible catastrophe.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0449912558, Paperback)

In 2019, humanity finally finds proof of extraterrestrial life when a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up exquisite singing from a planet which will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question the meaning of being "human." When the lone survivor of the expedition, Emilio Sandoz, returns to Earth in 2059, he will try to explain what went wrong... Words like "provocative" and "compelling" will come to mind as you read this shocking novel about first contact with a race that creates music akin to both poetry and prayer.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:30 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Combining elements of science fiction and spiritual philosophy, this novel is a tale of the devastating consequences of a scientific mission to make contact with an extraterrestrial culture.

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
13 avail.
244 wanted
4 pay6 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.2)
0.5 4
1 23
1.5 9
2 51
2.5 17
3 161
3.5 75
4 486
4.5 117
5 699

Audible.com

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

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 92,110,620 books! | Top bar: Always visible