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The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
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The Sparrow (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Mary Doria Russell, Mary Doria Russell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,554308777 (4.2)1 / 797
Member:AnneDC
Title:The Sparrow
Authors:Mary Doria Russell
Other authors:Mary Doria Russell
Info:Ballantine Books (1997), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 408 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:None

Work details

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (1996)

  1. 130
    Children of God by Mary Doria Russell (mrstreme)
  2. 112
    A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. (prezzey)
    prezzey: Both are good solid science fiction novels featuring Roman Catholic monks.
  3. 61
    Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (sturlington)
    sturlington: Also about first contact with an alien civilization that humans cannot understand.
  4. 72
    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.
  5. 30
    The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (GCPLreader)
  6. 20
    Eifelheim by Michael Flynn (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Another Catholic priest deals with aliens
  7. 10
    Eden by Stanisław Lem (pitjrw)
    pitjrw: A much better book on the uncertainties, misapprehensions, and danger of first contact.
  8. 10
    The Keys of the Kingdom by A. J. Cronin (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Missionary priests deal with abuse, spiritual questioning and alien cultures
  9. 10
    Bright of the Sky by Kay Kenyon (Anonymous user)
  10. 21
    Under the Skin by Michel Faber (Anonymous user)
  11. 21
    The Dazzle of Day by Molly Gloss (Rivercrest, vwinsloe)
    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)
  12. 10
    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
    Black Robe: A Novel by Brian Moore (amanda4242)
  14. 11
    The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (Tanya-dogearedcopy)
    Tanya-dogearedcopy: First Contact sections of both novels are remarkably similar
  15. 11
    Dark Eden by Chris Beckett (JGoto)
    JGoto: Not quite as good, but some similar themes and an interesting read.
  16. 00
    Wulfsyarn by Phillip Mann (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Both feature an unusual mix of alien contact and religion
  17. 00
    Daniel Stein, Interpreter: A Novel by Ludmila Ulitskaya (spiphany)
    spiphany: A central theme of both books is the examination of faith, both within and outside of organized religion
  18. 11
    Archangel by Sharon Shinn (espertus)
  19. 12
    Hyperion by Dan Simmons (tetrachromat)
    tetrachromat: Both juxtapose religion and science fiction. Hyperion is also [IMHO] a significantly better book.
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English (304)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Japanese (1)  All (308)
Showing 1-5 of 304 (next | show all)
One of my favorite books of all time. Emilio will be in my heart for the rest of my life. ( )
  Gretchening | Jul 20, 2017 |
This two book series is for a mature audience--both mentally and religiously!
This is a disturbing and morally demanding first book in a two-book series, telling the story of a Jesuit mission to an alien race on Alpha Centauri. Misunderstanding the alien culture results in heinous abuse and death of the missionaries. Mary Doria Russell has given us the best qualities of speculative fiction mixed with deep spiritual, moral, and ethical insights. She has elevated the missiological problems touched on in Michener's Hawaii to the future with modern-day moral dilemmas.
This book is not easy to read as its moral and ethical complexities are painful to digest. But it is well worth the effort! ( )
  AmishTechie | Jun 28, 2017 |
"The Sparrow" quickly became one of my favorite books. The characters became my friends, their struggles became mine, and their endings were painful. I cannot recommend this book more! ( )
  catherinegallo83 | Jun 21, 2017 |
Unbelievably bad. Awful writing and worse science. It was impossible to suspend disbelief with this novel. ( )
  AugustvonOrth | Apr 20, 2017 |
I don't often give 5 stars but this was an amazing read. At its best science fiction deals with contemporary social issues as it explores them in the dynamics of the future. Russell does an outstanding job of exploring cultural conflict and the collision of social structures as her characters from the Earth explore Rakhat and its indigenous peoples the Runa and the Jana'ata. But all is not as it seems and the Jesuit party that has come to live among the Runa soon discover awful truths about the social structure of this strange world. And Emilio Sandoz, the only member of the party who survives the encounter, has to struggle not only with what he saw, learned, and experienced but he also has to find God again. For his faith was lost somewhere on Rakhat amid the ashes of what he failed to understand about the societies he encountered. Russell's characters are well constructed and she builds empathy for them as well as a familiarity that draws the reader into the story so that you feel almost like a participant. The culture she constructs on Rakhat is deliciously complex and deceitfully attractive all at once. The story is very readable drawing the reader ever deeper into the tale trying, very much like Emilio Sandoz, to understand. As Sandoz says, "God is in the why." And the reader can only discover the why of Rakhat as Sandoz does - through the journey. ( )
  Al-G | Apr 16, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 304 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Doria Russellprimary authorall editionscalculated
diBondone,GiottoCover artsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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."
"'Not one sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.'" "But the sparrow still falls," Felipe said.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:46 -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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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