Now reading: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

I have a little break in my “required reading,” so I picked something that’s been on my TBR for quite awhile, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I’d heard good things about this book from many sources, and as of this morning, I’m a little past 1/3 of the way through. The subject of the novel is humanity’s first contact with an alien civilization, and the story begins with the reader learning that Father Emilio Sardoz, a Jesuit Priest, is the only surviving member of the expedition and has returned to Earth. We also know “something is horribly wrong with his hands,” although I still don’t know exactly what happened to them as – of chapter 17 anyway.

The book is somewhat difficult to follow as it hops back and forth between the years 2060 (when Sardoz has returned home) and 2019, when the discovery is first made and the decision to organize a mission to the newly discovered ETs is made (a transmission is detected from the neighborhood of Alpha Centauri – the closest star system to Earth! – and the content of it is a kind of “singing,” I immediately thought of it as may e a siren song…). In the chapters of the book that take place in 2019, we meet and learn about the other members of the mission crew. Somehow, in this future, the Jesuits are “allowed” to undertake this mission. Maybe it’s because it’s privately funded they can do this, but it seems to me a bit unrealistic to think that “the government” in 2019 wouldn’t totally take over any such project…

Oh well, the subject matter is interesting and the characters are intriguing and I’m enjoying it so far. I would hope to be done in a few days and report back to you then.

(below: Mary Doria Russell)