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MarkD

The Sparrow and Children of God, both novels by Mary Doria Russell

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The Sparrow was recommended to me on another Christian site (Biologos) and turned out to be quite the page turner, as was the the sequel.  Filed under science fiction it is pretty thought provoking in the realm of religion as well.

Without giving too much away this is what I can tell you.  The story takes place on an alternative earth where technology is more advanced and socio-economics are even more brutally unfair.  A young radio astronomer monitoring an automated search for intelligent life picks up a transmission of something musical from a nearby star system.  The Jesuits, ever eager to establish first contact, puts together a mission to go there using technology that permits them to get there in a small number of years for those on board, but many more years for those left on earth.  As it turns out there are two sapient species on this world.  One a predator species, the other a herbivore.  The former has a very structured society, warlike with a high development in the arts.  The latter lives very close to nature and has been bred by the former for a number of uses.  The biblical parallels are interesting in that the predator species might be thought of, like ourselves, as having eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil while the herbivore has not.  Lots of subplots and to find out how the story ends ... 

Edited by MarkD

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