By James Blish
A quantity of the After Such wisdom trilogy.
A hard-earned Hugo award went to this interesting examine of where of faith in a destiny star-travelling society. many of the motion occurs at the newly-discovered planet Lithia, a paradise, idyllic, so like an unsettled Earth, but so diverse. The protagonist, Father Ruiz-Sanchez, is either a clergyman and a biologist. He grows to believe that Lithia is a capture, a soul-trap, with the intention to bring about the damnation of first the exploring celebration, then the full human race!
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Additional info for A Case of Conscience (After Such Knowledge, Book 1)
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In Stanley Weinbaum’s A Martian Odyssey (1934), a new possibility for the alien emerges, where ‘he’ is simultaneously different and similar. On a ﬁrst expedition to Mars, travellers meet anthropoids and a ‘freak ostrich’. This creature is introduced by stressing its otherness, then its appearance is progressively reduced in oddity so that it might conceivably belong in the same species as the humans. Finally, it is not really a bird, just a creature with a small round body and long neck. More importantly, it demonstrates clear signs of intelligence: it can understand maths diagrams and gradually learns English.
The ﬁrst Selenite that Wells’s travellers see is an ant-person, a ‘complicated insect’ carrying a body case with ‘goggles’ and ‘spikes’ on his head. They cannot agree whether they are seeing a kind of man or not because ‘he’ is a hybrid creature, physically resembling a large ant, but possessing intelligence and technology, as they realize when taken captive. The two escape but only one manages to make his way back to Earth. Wells strikes a careful balance between not over-emphasizing the Selenites’ appearance and evoking their social organization.