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The Sparrow: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell
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The Sparrow: A Novel (original 1996; edition 1996)

by Mary Doria Russell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,934267928 (4.2)1 / 694
Member:Kammbia1
Title:The Sparrow: A Novel
Authors:Mary Doria Russell
Info:Villard (1996), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 408 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (1996)

  1. 120
    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. 51
    Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (sturlington)
    sturlington: Also about first contact with an alien civilization that humans cannot understand.
  5. 20
    The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (GCPLreader)
  6. 10
    Eifelheim by Michael Flynn (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Another Catholic priest deals with aliens
  7. 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.
  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. 00
    Girl in Landscape: A Novel by Jonathan Lethem (sturlington)
  10. 00
    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
  11. 00
    The Keys of the Kingdom by A. J. Cronin (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Missionary priests deal with abuse, spiritual questioning and alien cultures
  12. 11
    Hyperion by Dan Simmons (tetrachromat)
    tetrachromat: Both juxtapose religion and science fiction. Hyperion is also [IMHO] a significantly better book.
  13. 00
    Bright of the Sky by Kay Kenyon (Anonymous user)
  14. 00
    Wulfsyarn by Phillip Mann (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Both feature an unusual mix of alien contact and religion
  15. 11
    Archangel by Sharon Shinn (espertus)
  16. 00
    Dark Eden by Chris Beckett (JGoto)
    JGoto: Not quite as good, but some similar themes and an interesting read.
  17. 11
    Under the Skin by Michel Faber (Anonymous user)
  18. 00
    Eden by Stanisław Lem (pitjrw)
    pitjrw: A much better book on the uncertainties, misapprehensions, and danger of first contact.
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English (263)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Japanese (1)  All languages (267)
Showing 1-5 of 263 (next | show all)
One of the finest science fiction tales I've ever encountered, The Sparrow envisions humanity’s first contact with another planet and the Jesuit priest called to lead a mission to this new world.

Russell (herself a Jewish convert from agnosticism) gives a great inner depth to her characters, all of whom have strong — if different — relationships to God and the Church. The interplay between their perspectives—and the relationships that grow as a result — are part of the book’s charm.

The Sparrow deals with themes of vocation, suffering, and community in a way that will speak to anyone who has worked in the Church. Russell doesn't shy away from the challenging aspects of following God’s call, and some parts of the book are difficult for their raw emotion.

The Sparrow is a triumphant tale of faith in the midst of personal trial. Leaders enduring the “Long Night of the Soul” will identify with Fr. Emilio Sandoz, whose own torturous pursuit of God’s call leaves him, like so many saints, broken and totally dependent on the Lord’s mercy. ( )
  sullijo | Jun 25, 2015 |
Where to start? Well, this is a book about exploration and discovery. It's a book about space and time travel. It's a book about race and gender. It's a book about Jesuits and missions. It's a book about music. It's a book about theodicy. ( )
  spounds | Jun 16, 2015 |
Law of Unintended Consequences: Jesuits & Aliens edition. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Jun 16, 2015 |
I didn't know what to expect from this book but I enjoyed it. I found Emilio fascinating. For me it was a book about how our assumptions can lead to tragedy. As someone who has a tendency to assume things, I need to remember this!
As a book and plot, it certainly has its faults and I'm not sure I'd want to read the sequel. But I think it's a book I will remember ( )
  infjsarah | Apr 29, 2015 |
After reading the prologue and that haunting plea, "They meant no harm," this wave of foreboding came over me and just like that I knew I was at the beginning of something extraordinary. ( )
1 vote Daniel.Estes | Mar 30, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 263 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Doria Russellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
diBondone,GiottoCover artsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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."
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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 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)

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