~by Mary Doria Russell
1996 Booklist Editors' Choice Award
1996 James Tiptree, Jr. Award Winner
1997 British Science Fiction Association Award Winner
1997 John W. Campbell Award Winner
1997 Locus Award Nominee
1998 Arthur C. Clarke Award Winner
1998 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Nominee
2001 Gaylactic Spectrum Award Winner
A tremendous first novel, both striking and shocking. In 2019 radio broadcasts reach earth from Alpha Centuri. The Society of Jesus quickly sends a mission to meet these new peoples. The crew arrives at what appears to be a paradise. But then things begin to go horribly wrong, slowly building into a disaster. In the end, only one crew member survives and is rescued, a priest and linguist by the name of Emilio Sandoz. And he's not talking...
An intelligent, marvelous book. Perhaps a little slow for some people, but I found it absolutely engaging and fascinating with all sorts of allusions. As a side note, Mary Doria Russell came to the College of Wooster in 2001 for the forum series (the first years had to read the book). Her presentation, Jesuits in Space and Other Absurdities, is available for viewing at the library.
There is also a sequel, Children of God.