Infinite Space, Infinite God II
Edited by Karina & Robert Fabian
Cover Artist: Kurt Ozinga
Review by Colleen Cahill
Twilight Times Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781606192313
Date: 15 November 2010 List Price $18.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
There is a view that science and religion are at opposite ends of a spectrum. One may never mix happily with the other, but just as there are many types of literature, so there are many ways of seeing things. In Infinite Space, Infinite God II, editors Karina and Robert Fabian bring us a second installment of science fiction with a Catholic twist, proving there is not necessarily a conflict between these two.
If you are familiar with Infinite Space, Infinite God, you know some of what to expect in this next volume, as it is also based on "excellent storytelling, believable science... and Catholic beliefs". But just as "one sonnet can differ radically from another", this book is not a repeat and walks some very different and interesting paths.
First up is a time travel story, "The Ghosts of Kourion" by Andrew M. Seddon, a heart-tugging tale of a history professor who goes back to 365 AD, supposedly to study a Roman city just before a volcano buries it, but his real motivation is much darker.
There is sadness in Tamara Wilhite's "Cathedral", a tale of a genetically engineered woman who is reaching the end of her mandated 25 to 30 years of existence. One of a group of beings designed to "solve all the world's problems", she feels not only abandoned by her creators, but without any purpose. The reason for existence is also explored in "Cloned to Kill", by Derwin Mak, as a priest gives sanctuary to a military clone. Not only does this story deal with the purpose of life, but it also touches on whether clones are property or people.
Obviously there is a Catholic edge to each of these stories, some more obvious than others. "An Exercise in Logic" by Barton Paul Levenson shows it face forward, as a Catholic nun finds it her job as diplomat to prevent the destruction of a human colony from aliens who have a unique definition of people. Nuns are also at the center of Karina L. Fabian's "Antivenin", where a trio of Rescue Sisters -- pledged to answer distress calls from space ships -- find their task made even more dangerous when the cargo of venous snakes is loose. This is NOT snakes on a space ship, but a tale of heroism and learning from one's strengths and weaknesses.
Priests are also characters in several of these stories, and some in surprising roles. A crippled priest has to answer a formal review panel on why he was involved in hijacking a space ship in John Rundle's "Basilica". This is a story of many turns, all revolving around greed, conspiracy, and friendship. In "Otherworld", by Karina L. Fabian, a priest begins ministering in a virtual reality to reach out to the cyber community. This has some humorous results, such as his discussion of "Catholic social justice with a white rabbit, a raven and a hamster". It leaves him feeling "very close to St. Francis". There are more serious points to this story, such as the Father's search for his Mother who disappeared years ago in Otherworld.
Those who enjoyed Ken Pick and Alan Loewen's Father Heidler story from Infinite Space, Infinite God will be delighted to find him back in the novella "Dyads". This "covert intelligence service" priest is sent to a planet where the natives are "two-legged, elf-slim upright foxes", partly to help a church office that needs staff, but mostly to deal with issues of inter-conversions between human and Thalendri religions. While there is a concordat between the two groups, freelancing missionaries are breaking the rules; when a bomb is introduced into the situation, there are explosions on many levels.
I have touched on some of the dozen stories in this anthology, all of which are definitely science fiction and all have an interesting meld with Catholicism. As you can tell from my descriptions, these are works that consider both science and religion, dealing with cloning, the afterlife, space exploration, the nature of the soul and time travel. Like all good stories, they also focus on people and how they react to their environment. Questioning, looking outward, and reaching for the heart are key factors that make these works both thought provoking and entertaining.
If you have read Infinite Space, Infinite God I, you will definitely want to get your hands on a copy of this next volume. If not, give a try to something that some consider an impossible mix and discover the delight there is in breaking through the science-religion barriers.