After reading the prologue and that haunting plea—"They meant no harm"—this rush of foreboding came over me and I sensed I was at the beginning of something extraordinary.

And I was not disappointed. Mary Doria Russell has crafted a gripping tale of what happens when good intentions meets, no, collides with, raw nature. Only the description "gripping tale" barely scratches the surface. There's so much more going on here: philosophy, religion, anthropology, linguistics, the relativistic effects of interstellar travel, social evolution, betrayal, and a test of faith unlike any I've ever read.

The Sparrow was an ideal recommendation for me. I love science fiction, though I especially love the not-too-distant-future sci-fi where the "what if?" scenarios are just as close to reality as fantasy. I want to be able to look ahead and think, yes, events could play out this way. Carl Sagan's Contact comes to mind. I'm also an agnostic who enjoys pondering the humanistic side of the faith question. Many dismiss "skeptic" and "faith" as mutually exclusive, but I find dilemmas like a crisis of belief, for example, to be one of the most intensely vulnerable and human experiences we wrestle with.

Mary Doria Russell writes with sincerity, precision and a playfulness that will not be contained. Consider me a new fan. I only wish I had discovered her sooner.

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