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A Case Of Conscience (S.F. Masterworks) [Kindle Edition]

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

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Book Description

Father Ramon Ruiz-Sanchez S.J., is a part of a four man scientific commission to the planet Lithia, there to study a harmonious society of aliens living on a planets which is a biologist's paradise. He soon finds himself troubled: how can these perfect beings, living in an apparent Eden, have no conception of sin or God? If such a sinless Eden has been created apart from God, then who is responsible?



Winner of the Hugo Award for best novel, 1959


Product Description

Book Description

James Blish's seminal treatment of religion in SF, an award winning precursor to The Sparrow

About the Author

James Blish (1921-75) studied microbiology at Rutgers and then served as a medical laboratory technician in the US army during the Second World War. Among his best known books are Cities in Flight, A Case of Conscience, for which he won the Hugo in 1959 for Best Novel, Doctor Mirabilis, Black Easter and The Day After Judgement.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 836 KB
  • Print Length: 257 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345438353
  • Publisher: Gateway; New edition edition (30 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A7C9B6U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #256,328 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
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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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Real Mish Mash of Ideas. 25 Oct. 2000
Format:Paperback
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and fascinating 18 Jan. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book combines description of an interesting completely plausible but alien society - in the style of Ursula Le Guin with a complex theological puzzle. Yet the two disparate subplots maintain a unity and logical consistency throughout. This is not a 'can't-put-it-down thriller, but a couple-of-chapters-a-night book that you will complete and then re-read. If you like your SF to keep you thinking, this is for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable & thought provoking 16 Sept. 2011
Format:Paperback
Judging by the reviews this book polarises opinion I thought it was a very interesting concept 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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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
Format:Paperback
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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts out Great, ends up merely Good 2 Jun. 2012
By Lark TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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, as one of its main protagonists as Man Plus did and much of its ruminations are about the relationship between humankind, humanity and technology.

If you liked Man Plus I suspect that you would also like this book, although the alien "other" only really features at the very close of one, they feature from the outset of Blish's book and I also think Blish's book does have more strictly religious ruminations than Man Plus. I really liked this, perhaps it does "bog down" the book and would prove uninteresting to anyone who is uninterested in that sort of content, which could be a matter of taste, but there are concurrent themes or developments which do not have a religious or theological anchor and you can choose where to place the emphasis really.

The book is really divided into two seperate parts, one taking place upon an alien planet which is to all appearences a paradise, an expeditionary mission of scientists have a mission of determining whether the planet should be opened up to further contact with earth or closed of from human contact. The decision is taken "by committee" and the dialogue at this point is pretty good, outlining a number of reasons pro and contra. The second part of the book takes place upon a pretty dystopic future earth, this really is bleak, some interesting plotlines from the conclusion of the first half of the book come to fruition and allow some consideration of the plight of the outsider, alienation and despair but I felt the entire tone of the book from here on was too depressing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Rushed ending
I enjoyed the book, it was well written and had some interesting ideas but it ended all in a rush which let it down.
Published 13 months ago by anita culley
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 Sept. 2010 by F. Seed
5.0 out of 5 stars A true masterwork
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. Read more
Published on 6 Oct. 2009 by J. R. Eisner
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 Sept. 2008 by plot hound
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
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... Read more
Published on 3 Nov. 2007 by C. G. Horner
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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