HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Book of Strange New Things (2014)

by Michel Faber

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,9351276,971 (3.72)154
"It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter's teachings--his Bible is their "book of strange new things." But Peter is rattled when Bea's letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea's faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter. Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us" --… (more)
  1. 50
    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (GCPLreader)
  2. 40
    The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (hairball)
    hairball: The world falls apart...
  3. 10
    Version Control by Dexter Palmer (KatyBee)
  4. 00
    Eifelheim by Michael Flynn (sturlington)
    sturlington: Humans coming into contact with aliens, with a religious theme.
  5. 01
    The Dazzle of Day by Molly Gloss (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: also known as "Quakers in Space."
  6. 01
    The Explorer by James Smythe (Anonymous user)
  7. 01
    Le Papillon des Etoiles by Bernard Werber (Cecilturtle)
Loading...

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

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 154 mentions

English (120)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Piratical (1)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (126)
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
I wish I could give this book more stars. But there are things some writers do that I can't stand, and which, as is the case with this book, leave a rotten taste in my mouth. Michel Faber shows an undisguised condescension toward women and their looks. Why are most of the women in the book described in such brief but hideous ways? A "fat idiot" he thinks, about one; there is a butch looking woman (one of many, apparently) who is assumed to have ripped pages from a "lesbian" porn magazine to take to her room; a woman from Central America who looks like a "monkey"; and about Grainger, the woman he gets closest to on the compound, he says:

"Her cheekbones weren't particularly good. She had the sort of face that was beautiful only if she watched her diet and didn't get much older than she was now. As soon as age or over-indulgence filled out her cheeks and thickened her neck, even a little, she would cross a line from elfin allure into mannish homeliness. He felt sad for her, sad about the ease with which her physical destiny could be read by anyone who cared to cast a glance over her, sad about the matter-of-factness with which her genes stated the limits of what they were willing to do for her in the years to come, sad that she was at her peak now and still not fulfilled." (Of course, Peter's wife has particularly "good cheekbones". Too bad she has the typical pregnant woman's raging hormonal imbalance, forcing her to behave hysterically as the Earth goes to hell.)

Another irksome and repulsive intrusion on the story is Faber's need to let us know, often, what our Father Peter does with his "DNA", whether it's running down the drains, or on his abdomen.

I don't mean to say these things rip the novel of merit. But the story is a potentially intriguing romp through a remote landscape (literally and figuratively), with desolation and boredom in between moments of interesting psychological and philosophical drama and attachment. The insertion of the main character's unquestioned and unresolved misogyny, racism, ageism, homophobia, lend nothing to the narrative, except a reminder that the (rather unpleasant) author is never far away, despite his novel's attempt to be one that might matter with transcendence. These "moments" are a relentless distraction from an otherwise rather seamless and fascinating novel. Faber's writing, for the most part, feels self-assured and flows well, except when he needs, clearly, a simple way of describing his characters, then he falls into ugly cliches and stereotypes, which left me rolling my eyes, if not repulsed. ( )
  Ccyynn | Feb 15, 2022 |
The Book of Strange New Things contains futuristic technology, space travel, and extraterrestrial beings, but it is not science fiction. Instead, it is the portrait of a marriage.

Peter and Bea are a happy and deeply religious married couple. He is the minister of their church and a former drug addict. She is the lovely nurse who brought him to God. A mysterious corporation is colonizing a faraway planet, and Peter is chosen to preach the word of God to the native population. For unknown reasons, Bea cannot accompany him. They are confident their love can withstand the great distance. Part of their confidence unconsciously stems from the fact that they have never been apart before.

Unfortunately, Peter - like all the men I have dated - turns out to be crap at long-distance relationships. It turns out he has landed the cushiest missionary gig in the history of Christianity. The aliens already have some understanding of the Bible - they already speak some English! - and eagerly listen to his teachings. Peter is so absorbed by tending his flock and building his church that he does not always respond to his wife's letters.

Bea, in contrast, describes natural disasters that destroy entire countries and the collapse of Britain's infrastructure. The destruction, combined with pregnancy and her husband's seeming indifference, make Bea's letters more and more frantic, but Peter cannot - or will not - relate to her experiences. He has a frustrating lack of curiosity, especially regarding the motives of his employer, and is quite happy playing with his new alien friends. The central concern of the book is not what the corporation wants, or what the natives want, but what Peter wants!

Like [b:The Bone Clocks|20819685|The Bone Clocks|David Mitchell|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1398205538s/20819685.jpg|26959610], The Book of Strange New Things raises more questions than it answers. It confused me, irritated me, and left me longing for more. Michel Faber has said this will be his last book, but I hope that he changes his mind and revisits this world that he created. ( )
  doryfish | Jan 29, 2022 |
This book was so utterly heartbreaking I might need to watch some Monty Python or something to alleviate this heavy feeling. :(
( )
  theEmmers | Nov 24, 2021 |
Missionary on a New World

In a nutshell, a mysterious company in the near future has set up a colony on a planet that pretty much resembles the Great Plains during the dust bowl of the 30s, but featuring wind wheels of rain instead of scouring top soil. The company populates their settlement with practical, skillful people, most of whom have finished with abusing themselves and who, in a mighty authorial conceit, possess no sense of awe and adventure at living on an alien world, one also lightly populated by an indigenous people. These people, who may number a thousand, keep entirely to themselves, dress in flowing pastel robes the myriad hues of which challenge the color scale. These folk are slight of stature, wear well-made gloves and booties, and exhibit a thirst for Jesus and the promise of eternal life. Therein lies the secret to their vulnerability and limited numbers, which with patience you'll either discern or discover as you get within hailing distance of page 500.

To satisfy these people, the company searches for a pastor to minister to them. That pastor is Peter (get it). Peter's had a heck of a life, what with drug addiction, alcoholism, and thievery on his resume. But, fortunately, a good woman saved him, a nurse (another get it) who nurtures him while he is in hospital, and who then leads him to Christ. While the world, as is always its wont in speculative fiction, goes to hell in a hand basket, Peter and Bea labor at saving their little patch of earth in England. Once chosen by the company, Peter travels to the world, named Oasis, and provides the salve yearned for by the Oasans. While he attends to his religious duties, we plucky readers learn about the company employees, the colony, Oasis, and the Oasans through his eyes, which, at least for us since Shogun, is always an appealing attraction that keeps us tethered to the bitter end.

Like the wheeling Oasan rain, lots spins around in Faber's very long fable: faith, belief, passion for life, devotion, and, above all, love. That love is Peter's for the people he meets, for the Oasans he devotes himself to (and who respond to him with adoration), and for his wife, who remained on an Earth in maelstrom. We readers observe the strain on their relationship through the letters they shoot back and forth to each over. And, it's about the choices life hands us, for Peter, happy and fulfilled on Oasis, must choose between his faraway adopted home and his Earth home and Bea.

Is The Book of Strange New Things a book you will like? If you require your aliens to be vicious and warlike, or your alien worlds teeming with danger, or your science to be spot on, or your characters to have more emotions that just mawkish sentiment, well, perhaps you will not. If you like a new age feel, or if you have faith, or if you like the idea of not engaging in intergalactic warfare, yes, maybe you will. Something everybody who reads even a bit of Faber's book will agree on: it possesses the virtue of good writing, good enough to drag the most reluctant reader to that shining object in the distance, that glorious page 500. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Missionary on a New World

In a nutshell, a mysterious company in the near future has set up a colony on a planet that pretty much resembles the Great Plains during the dust bowl of the 30s, but featuring wind wheels of rain instead of scouring top soil. The company populates their settlement with practical, skillful people, most of whom have finished with abusing themselves and who, in a mighty authorial conceit, possess no sense of awe and adventure at living on an alien world, one also lightly populated by an indigenous people. These people, who may number a thousand, keep entirely to themselves, dress in flowing pastel robes the myriad hues of which challenge the color scale. These folk are slight of stature, wear well-made gloves and booties, and exhibit a thirst for Jesus and the promise of eternal life. Therein lies the secret to their vulnerability and limited numbers, which with patience you'll either discern or discover as you get within hailing distance of page 500.

To satisfy these people, the company searches for a pastor to minister to them. That pastor is Peter (get it). Peter's had a heck of a life, what with drug addiction, alcoholism, and thievery on his resume. But, fortunately, a good woman saved him, a nurse (another get it) who nurtures him while he is in hospital, and who then leads him to Christ. While the world, as is always its wont in speculative fiction, goes to hell in a hand basket, Peter and Bea labor at saving their little patch of earth in England. Once chosen by the company, Peter travels to the world, named Oasis, and provides the salve yearned for by the Oasans. While he attends to his religious duties, we plucky readers learn about the company employees, the colony, Oasis, and the Oasans through his eyes, which, at least for us since Shogun, is always an appealing attraction that keeps us tethered to the bitter end.

Like the wheeling Oasan rain, lots spins around in Faber's very long fable: faith, belief, passion for life, devotion, and, above all, love. That love is Peter's for the people he meets, for the Oasans he devotes himself to (and who respond to him with adoration), and for his wife, who remained on an Earth in maelstrom. We readers observe the strain on their relationship through the letters they shoot back and forth to each over. And, it's about the choices life hands us, for Peter, happy and fulfilled on Oasis, must choose between his faraway adopted home and his Earth home and Bea.

Is The Book of Strange New Things a book you will like? If you require your aliens to be vicious and warlike, or your alien worlds teeming with danger, or your science to be spot on, or your characters to have more emotions that just mawkish sentiment, well, perhaps you will not. If you like a new age feel, or if you have faith, or if you like the idea of not engaging in intergalactic warfare, yes, maybe you will. Something everybody who reads even a bit of Faber's book will agree on: it possesses the virtue of good writing, good enough to drag the most reluctant reader to that shining object in the distance, that glorious page 500. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
As someone who harbors a fondness for science fiction and thirsts for more complex treatment of religion in contemporary novels, I relished every chance to cloister myself away with “The Book of Strange New Things.” If it feels more contemplative than propulsive, if Faber repeatedly thwarts his own dramatic premises, he also offers exactly what I crave: a state of mingled familiarity and alienness that leaves us with questions we can’t answer — or forget.
added by zhejw | editWashington Post, Ron Charles (Nov 25, 2014)
 
Since the critical and commercial triumph of Hilary Mantel, the historical novel is newly respectable. One hopes that Michel Faber can do something similar for speculative writing. Defiantly unclassifiable, “The Book of Strange New Things” is, among other things, a rebuke to the credo of literary seriousness for which there is no higher art than a Norwegian man taking pains to describe his breakfast cereal. As well as the literature of authenticity, Faber reminds us, there is a literature of enchantment, which invites the reader to participate in the not-real in order to wake from a dream of reality to the ineffability, strangeness and brevity of life on Earth.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Marcel Theroux (Oct 30, 2014)
 
...like the best sci-fi or fantasy, the novel is really an examination of humanity. It is also a powerful and, one suspects, personal meditation on the limitations of the flesh, and the capacity of either love or faith to endure extreme pressure. Startlingly tender and bold in conception, it offers a bleak vision of our future that also holds fast to the hope that, in Larkin’s phrase, “what will survive of us is love”.
added by _Zoe_ | editThe Guardian, Stephanie Merritt (Oct 26, 2014)
 
The book isn’t without a few niggling problems.... But the genuinely inquisitive and searching story in The Book of Strange New Things ultimately trumps such minor logistical concerns. This is a novel of big ideas by a writer of unusual intelligence and lucidity, and it lingers in the mind after the final page is turned.
added by _Zoe_ | editThe Independent, Doug Johnstone (Oct 25, 2014)
 

Belongs to Publisher Series

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For Eva, always
First words
"I was going to say something," he said.
Quotations
Last words
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

"It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter's teachings--his Bible is their "book of strange new things." But Peter is rattled when Bea's letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea's faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter. Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us" --

No library descriptions found.

Book description
It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.

Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us.
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.72)
0.5 2
1 10
1.5
2 36
2.5 11
3 101
3.5 39
4 202
4.5 31
5 87

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 171,870,607 books! | Top bar: Always visible