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Case of Conscience (Del Rey Impact) [Paperback]

James Blish
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Sep 2000 Del Rey Impact
Father Ruiz-Sanchez is a dedicated man--a priest who is also a scientist, and a scientist who is also a human being. He has found no insoluble conflicts in his beliefs or his ethics . . . until he is sent to Lithia. There he comes upon a race of aliens who are admirable in every way except for their total reliance on cold reason; they are incapable of faith or belief.

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 . . .

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books Inc.; 1st Impact Ed edition (5 Sep 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345438353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345438355
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.9 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,026,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

James Blish's seminal treatment of religion in SF, an award winning precursor to The Sparrow --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

SALES POINTS * #30 in the Millennium SF Masterworks series, a library of the finest science fiction ever written. * Winner of the Hugo Award in 1959 * ¿Brilliants as fireworks¿ J. D. Scott, Sunday Times * ¿Blish brings to this case of conscience one of the most powerful intellects ¿ and one of the most diverse stories of knowledge, I would say ¿ ever to apply itself to science fiction¿ Brian Aldiss --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
As a confirmed atheist who has always had trouble understanding how some people can be religious but still believe in evolution, I approached this novel with trepidation, and was close to giving up on a couple of occasions. However, the brilliance of Blish's earlier entry in the SF Masterworks series - Cities in Flight, persuaded me to continue, and I have to say that I'm very glad I did. Some people would say that religion has no relevance to science, and it is an opinion that the priest Ruiz Sanchez hears a great deal throughout the novel. By giving the character the chance to defend himself throughout the story, I have started to understand one thing about science and religion - that a person's beliefs do not have to be at odds with their skills as a scientist. Ruiz Sanchez is a biologist who believes in God, and as he points out himself in the book, that belief is a constant whether he is praying on earth or praying on a distant planet. He has reconciled the theory of evolution with the theory of Adam and Eve, and sees his faith and his science as being irrevocably intertwined, to the point where he is prepared to face eternal damnation for his decision about Lithia. As for the ending of the book : I won't spoil it for those who haven't read it, but who can really say what is responsible - the science of man or the hand of God ? A perturbing book but fabulously insightful, both for those with faith and those without.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good 3 Nov 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An interesting novel.

I'm quite puzzled by the remarks of some of the reviewers here - they seem to assume that if one cannot agree with the religion of the priest-scientist, this must make the book somehow less interesting or absorbing. Odd - don't we read novels in part to get out of our usual skins for a bit?

In any case - Blish himself makes the point that he isn't a 'believer' (nor am I BTW)
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Real Mish Mash of Ideas. 25 Oct 2000
I have to say I was disappointed with this book.
It is only around 190 pages long and this means that there is very little scope to develop plot or characters. The premise of the story is that a planet inhabited by a Reptillian Race are monitored by a group of four scientists who each have a different fields to ascertain whether a relationship with Earth should ensue. One of the characters is a Jesuit who really does not know whether this Garden of Eden is all it seems -- Is Satans' work at hand??
Certainly the first 80 pages or so are interesting enough and sets the story up but all the religious arguments really become bogged down and I don't think really go anywhere. The final half really becomes silly and abit of a mish mash. It does become jumbled and seems to jump forward without a real explanation of whats happening.
This book is really for the Masterwork Completist and would not recommend to the casual reader.
Decent premise but ultimately a disappointment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable & thought provoking 16 Sep 2011
Judging by the reviews this book polarises opinion ,i thought it was great,the whole idea if life was discovered on another planet what would the religious view on this be ? . Don't know if this question has been pondered over before in litrature but well worth a read .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true masterwork 6 Oct 2009
I have long known 'A Case of Conscience' as a rather long "short story", and did not realize that Blish had later added a second part to make it into a novel. I am still reading the latter, and finding it a little difficult to get into, but the first part is reason enough to buy the book. I ordered it for a Catholic priest friend of mine, since the hero is a Catholic priest, and I want to know what my friend thinks of Blish's theology (which, oddly for a science fiction work, is crucial to the plot - without making it a religious work, Blish himself having been agnostic). Now I have to finish the second part before I can give it to him, so that I can either recommend it in full or dismiss the second part!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Case of Considerable Talent 26 Jun 2000
By A Customer
A Case of Conscience mixes Catholic Doctrine with planetary exploration. A team of 4 scientists are sent to survey a new world inhabited by intelligent dinosaur-like creatures, who live in an apparent Eden, where hatred, greed and destruction are unknown. The team have to assess whether the planet should be opened up for human visitation, from their respective points of view. As the final decision time approaches tensions grow within the team, with at least one member wanting to use the planets rich radioactive resources in the production of atomic weapons, making use of the peaceful inhabitants for labour, whether they are willing or unwilling.
One of the crew is in fact a Jesuit Priest and biologist, and he also is assessing the planet from the point of view of religious ethics, and seeing how the inhabitants fit into the scheme of things as far as religious ideology. His own startling recommendation is to quarantine the planet, and forbid future human contact, but why? Is this apparent tranquil but godless haven really the work of Satan?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Rushed ending 2 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book, it was well written and had some interesting ideas but it ended all in a rush which let it down.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and fascinating
The book combines description of an interesting completely plausible but alien society - in the style of Ursula Le Guin with a complex theological puzzle. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Graham Read
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts out Great, ends up merely Good
This began this book after finishing Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS) and I think I liked it for reasons similar to Man Plus, it is has a good religious character, a Jesuit scientist,... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Lark
3.0 out of 5 stars An example of religious nonsense that first shocked me in my teens
In this novel, a group of astronauts which includes a priest come across a perfect primitive society in space which while happy and morally superior to that of Earth has not... Read more
Published on 17 Sep 2010 by F. Seed
1.0 out of 5 stars Extrememly dull.
Intellectual meanderings on religion.

I struggled to finish this book.
It focuses on religious doctrine and philosophy and deep intellectual thoughts on both and... Read more
Published on 9 Sep 2008 by plot hound
2.0 out of 5 stars Why so highly regarded?
I read this book because it seems to be highly regarded, appearing in various lists of 'best' SF novels, etc. Read more
Published on 4 Dec 2002 by R. J. Hole
1.0 out of 5 stars A staggeringly bad classic.
Perhaps in 1958, the time of the book's original writing, the juxtaposition of religious concerns with the machinery of hard SF was enough to startle the audience out of noticing... Read more
Published on 23 Nov 2000
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