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First published in 1959, James Blish's Hugo Award-winning A Case of Conscience is science fiction at its very best: a fast-paced, intelligent story that offers plenty of action while at the same time explores complex questions of values and ethics. In this case, Blish has taken on the age-old battle of good vs. evil. Lithia poses a theological question that lies at the heart of this book: is God necessary for a moral society? The Lithians are nothing if not moral. Not only do they lack the seven deadly sins, they also lack original sin. And without any sort of religious framework, they have created the Christian ideal world, one that humans would be eager to study and emulate. But is it too perfect? Is it in fact, as Father Ruiz-Sanchez suspects, the work of The Adversary? And what role does Egtverchi, the young Lithian raised on Earth, play? Is he an innocent victim of circumstance, or will he bring about the Dies Irae, the day of the wrath of God, upon the earth? The fate of two worlds hinges on the answers to these questions, and will lead to an ancient earth heresy that shakes the Jesuit priest's beliefs to their very core.
A Case of Conscience is a brilliant piece of storytelling, and it packs a lot into a scant 242 pages. Most readers will probably finish the book in one sitting, unable to stop until the spectacular denouement. But the questions posed by this little-known gem will stay with you for days afterward. --P.M. Atterberry
Confronted with a profound scientific riddle and ethical quandary, Father Ruiz-Sanchez soon finds himself torn between the teachings of his faith, the teachings of his science, and the inner promptings of his humanity. There is only one solution: He must accept an ancient and unforgivable heresy--and risk the futures of both worlds . . .
Maybe I just wanted too badly to like it.
The second part of the book, not as satisfying in my opinion (and apparently Blish thought so too) as the first, was written specifically for the hardcover edition.
Like a good science fiction novel should, A Case of Conscience raises some interesting and valid moral and theological issues, and it's entertaining, too.
I read this a few years ago and remember not thinking it was much of a book to win the Hugo Award. Ten years later I tried it again thinking that it was my youth and lack of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Luna2
There was serious science fiction that dealt with religion in mainstream science fiction back in the 1940s. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Paul Camp
I decided to give this a try because I thought I would like science fiction for the fun of it, but this one was just too far "out there" for me. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Up North Reader
Set in 2049, A Case of Conscience begins with four humans on the planet Lithia. Ruiz-Sanchez is a biologist and a Jesuit priest. Cleaver is a physicist. Read morePublished 21 months ago by TChris
In this novel, Blish answers the question of "What if there were sentient life on another planet?" A thoroughly uncomfortable story that reprises the disastrous consequences of the... Read morePublished on September 30, 2012 by Nerine Dorman
James Blish wrote two masterpieces, in my opinion, and they both happen to treat the mind and emotions of a religious scientist. Read morePublished on January 1, 2011 by Les carbonnades flamandes
Very interesting look at the future, from a late 1950's, early 1960's perspective. The heart of the book is a moral crisis introduced by an alien race with perfect morals but no... Read morePublished on October 26, 2010 by Tad Ottman
I like a good novel of ideas now and again and can become annoyed with books that are devoid of ideas.The novel of ideas tends to suffer from certain problems. Read morePublished on December 28, 2009 by JAK
Father Ruiz Sanchez is catholic priest 50 light years away from Earth. He and his companions have discovered a utopian planet with no violence, no money, no slavery and no God. Read morePublished on October 12, 2009 by Adman