The Sparrow

Posted by : atcampbell | On : December 16, 1997

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Attendees: A. T. Campbell III, Fred Duarte, Mona Gamboa, Elaine Powell, Carrie Richerson, Jeff Rupley, Willie Siros, Lori Wolf

We had a huge group for the discussion of The Sparrow, a first science fiction novel about a group of Catholic missionaries who establish First Contact between humans and aliens. The story deals with grown-up topics like Ethics and Morals and Religion. The book is structured in a flashback style, and we found both the events in the “present” and “past” so fascinating that the book was hard to put down. The characters of the missionaries are well-drawn and distinctive, and we grew to care about them. The alien society seemed believably structured. The culture clashes that grew from the First Contact situation developed logically, and tragically, without any characters (alien or human) being villains. Several of us liked the book enough to have already read it multiple times. This was one of the best SF novels we had read in several years. We were awed that a first novel could be so good, and we’re eagerly awaiting Ms. Russell’s next book.

— A. T. Campbell, III