The concept of Karina and Robert Fabian's Infinite Space, Infinite God, an anthology of Catholic sci-fi, was an intriguing one--Catholicism and science . . . and science fiction to boot? come on, everyone knows that the two are incompatible--remember Galileo, people? Was this a group of writer-heretics? Oh goodie--rebels--that was enough to gain my attention.
Of course, I am being facetious here. I write Biblical cyberpunk and receive a similar reaction whenever I mention it! And, so to my review . . .
The backbone of ISIG is the editorial commentary. The Fabians introduce ISIG with a commentary on science and the Catholic church. While there are those Christian legalists who would dissect the Fabian's argument, I found it interesting, however, unnecessary to apologize for writing sci-fi, whatever one's beliefs. It is fiction, fantasy, written by authors glorifying Him with their talents. But I digress. Within the book itself, the Fabians introduce each segment of stories with thought-provoking discussion: "The Catholic Church and Humanity," ". . . Evangelism," ". . . its Servants," etc. The result is a well-organized survey of well-crafted and entertaining Catholic sci-fi.
Some of my favorite stories in ISIG:
In Karina Fabian's "Interstellar Calling," Frankie, a sixteen-year-old is tired and disillusioned with her life--and like many folks in this position, blames God. The author lulls the reader seemingly into a romance story or at best, a growing-up story. But Fabian changes gears smoothly to provide the heroine a chance at a cool life-changing event.
Every anthology needs a good spy story and in "The Mask of the Ferret" (Ken Pick and Alan Loewen) we have an intergallactic version of secret agent (priest) on the trail of a fugitive smuggler. The ancient artifact the priest seeks is dangerous cargo for the interstellar craft and its unusual group of travelers and crew. The storyline is enjoyable and the characters a real kick (sorry real fans of intergallactic-ness) though I have to say my imagination isn't developed well enough to clearly envision the disparate group assembled on board!
"A Cruel and Unusual Punishment" (Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff) is the fascinating journey of a Sein Finn soldier, slated for death row, who gains redepemption through the Zagorsky experiment. A must read!
And finally, Simon Morden's "Little Madeleine." I was eager to read a sample of Dr. Morden's work. I'd recently read his essay Sex, Death and Christian Fiction and wanted to determine for myself where his fiction fit . . . in the 10% or the ninety (you'll have to read his essay to decipher this code) of Christian fiction. Like the rest of the stories contained in ISIG, "Little Madeleine" did not disappoint. The concept of the Joans, warrior-nuns who protect God's servants, is pretty darn cool. Morden is a talented writer who sends the CBA church-lady-protective filters flying, a la Little Maddeleine herself.
The Fabians have amassed a fine group of writers in ISIG. Besides being entertaining, these stories provoke thought, educate us non-Catholics, and give the reader a new take on commonly held suppositions about the the Catholic church. Pick up a copy of Infinite Space, Infinite God and see for yourself--but careful, this is hot stuff!