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The Book of Strange New Things (2014)

Tekijä: Michel Faber

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
2,1861347,149 (3.7)161
"It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter's teachings--his Bible is their "book of strange new things." But Peter is rattled when Bea's letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea's faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter. Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us" --… (lisätietoja)
Viimeisimmät tallentajatblasetvt, Ivia, lelandleslie, yksityinen kirjasto, Krustosaurus, YolaNL, liz101, funfactsabound, pavelbelavin, beccahuh
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englanti (127)  hollanti (2)  portugali (1)  italia (1)  merirosvokieli (1)  ranska (1)  Kaikki kielet (133)
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 133) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
This was just OK for me. I loved the concept of settling on a new planet and the separation of the spouses but somehow the ending didn't work for me and in general it was all just too slow and I didn't develop enough of a rooting interest in any person or storyline. It's possible that this style of book just didn't really fit into my real life at the time I was reading it because it was too much of a contrast to the hectic vacation I was on while reading it. ( )
  hmonkeyreads | Jan 25, 2024 |
The only book I have read from Faber has been 'Under the Skin', so needless to say, I was expecting quite a trip, this time into space. Couldn't wait. Expectations of wonkiness were high. As I went along, I was waiting for this plot to go off the rails, and this is an extremely long... train. Sadly, I either didn't understand the book, I read it too piecemeal, or I just generally become disinterested in plots involving marriage or religion. But I usually love literary sci-fi! This was just too long and not really enough there. Maybe I'm just spoiled with other great sci-fi (Dexter Palmer's 'Version Control' always comes to mind.). Maybe this just wasn't the book for me. ( )
  booklove2 | Oct 6, 2023 |
First of all, I’m generally wary about trigger warnings, and reviews that start with trigger warnings. Not the least because they can be spoiler-ish. Nevertheless, I discovered that I have a trigger that I wish I’d been warned about: There is a cat in this book, and it dies. Horribly.

That out of the way, this is one of the best books I’ve read for a while. As a former Catholic, I’m also wary about books about religion. But the preacher here is a Marilynne Robinson–like preacher, a good and gentle soul, never in your face, not one to cause offense. Which, as it turns out, is part of the reason he’s chosen for missionary service to the aliens on Oasis, a planet where a mysterious corporation back on Earth, USIC, is trying to establish an outpost. Although this is a mysterious, faceless, potentially Evil Corporation, that is something of a red herring too. They also are not in-your-face evil: they’re supplying a missionary because the aliens have requested one, and Evil Corp. wants to maintain good trading relations with the natives, something of switch from your typical, exploitive, colonialistic Evil Corp.

Nevertheless, everyone and everything at the USIC base on Oasis is a little … off. Everyone is nice enough … maybe a little too nice? There are no locks on the doors. There are no fist fights in the mess hall. Oh, and the previous minister has gone missing…

This may sound like the lead-up to a revelation of malicious mind control by Evil Corp. or other villainous doings, but that’s a red herring also. The answer turns out to be much more grounded in ordinary human nature, and in my opinion even more chilling for that.

The aliens are physically pretty repellent, but they turn out to be just as phlegmatic as the humans on Oasis. And having been introduced to Christianity by the previous preacher, they are eager for the “technique of Jesus.” (Their speech is rendered with the occasional odd symbol to indicate the sounds they have trouble reproducing with their … speech apparatus.)

Our preacher, perhaps rather heavy-handedly called Peter, has left a wife back on Earth (perhaps rather heavy-handedly called Beatrice), with whom he can correspond by text whenever he’s on base and not out ministering to the natives. He’s not gone long before increasingly alarming texts start coming from back home. We readers can see that things are getting pretty dire back home—war, natural disasters, food shortages—but Peter is really busy and very absorbed by his work with the natives and, well, he just doesn’t seem to be paying attention to the warnings.

This is where it can be easy to judge Peter for being a self-absorbed, oblivious jerk. And, frankly, he is a self-absorbed, oblivious jerk. But I think he also represents the way humans like to bury their heads in the sand and ignore “inconvenient truths” in favor of immersing themselves in small, immediate, solvable everyday concerns. Don’t we all? I’d earlier saved this quote, which I think sums it up:

“Werner was a poor lamb, precious in the eyes of the Lord, a charmless creep who couldn’t help being a charmless creep, a geeky orphan who’d grown into a specialized form of survivor. We are all specialized forms of survivor, Peter reminded himself. We lack what we fundamentally need and forge ahead regardless, hurriedly hiding our wounds, disguising our ineptitude, bluffing our way through our weaknesses.”

One thing this book said to me is that we all take, or deliver, from religion (or philosophy, or politics, or a particular world view) what we need at the moment. And another thing is that we can all be oblivious to what’s right under our noses, but we need to wake up, and grow up. ( )
  Charon07 | Mar 19, 2023 |
You know the old rule of thumb about how a gun in the first act needs to go off by the third? (Oh, apparently it's called Chekhov's gun! Who knew?) Faber started off with three guns and only one of them went off by the end and it turned out to be, like, a water gun.

It was endlessly tedious, the protagonist was not very likable, and the plot itself just never really came together. It's amazing because the reviews have been largely glowing, but this was just a huge waste of time.

The Book of Strange New Things? More like The (Endless) Book of Tedious Plot and Lame Characters. The more I think about it - and the more glowing year-end best book lists I saw it on - the more irritated I get. What a flaccid failure of a book this was. ( )
  Jawin | Nov 19, 2022 |
Peter is selected by an American corporation to serve as one of the first Christian missionaries to native inhabitants of the planet Oasis. He leaves his wife at home in London. A previous minister had disappeared, along with a linguist that taught English to the Oasans. He finds the Oasans receptive to the “Book of Strange New Things,” their name for the Bible. He works with them in their settlement to build a church, returning periodically to the USIC base to communicate with his wife on earth. She tells him of many catastrophes that have befallen the earth, but it is difficult for him to fully understand and focus on what is happening so far away. Peter eventually learns an excruciating lesson based on his interactions with the Oasans.

This is a complex story that works on multiple levels. One level revolves around testing a marriage to its limits, where distance takes a toll. Another level looks at how religious instruction is received by a population that has no concept of earth. It examines a new form of colonialism – USIC has setup a base but is still dependent upon the Oasans for food. It portrays how faith is tested. It examines addiction and how one can be substituted for another. It depicts the mental stress and alienation that can occur from isolation. It is a combination of literary fiction and science fiction, commenting on the nature of humanity through looking at their interactions with intelligent non-humans.

I listened to the audiobook, wonderfully performed by Josh Cohen. It is an ideal vehicle for audio. Cohen does an amazing job of voicing accents from a variety of countries. He also creates a unique voice for the Oasans. I found the entire experience of this book engrossing.

After finishing, I found it profoundly unsettling and it took a while for my thoughts to gel. It is an example of how good intentions go awry. It shows how rifts can form between people who love each other deeply. It is an examination of empathy across cultures. I am fascinated by the premise of this story and found it both creative and insightful.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 133) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
As someone who harbors a fondness for science fiction and thirsts for more complex treatment of religion in contemporary novels, I relished every chance to cloister myself away with “The Book of Strange New Things.” If it feels more contemplative than propulsive, if Faber repeatedly thwarts his own dramatic premises, he also offers exactly what I crave: a state of mingled familiarity and alienness that leaves us with questions we can’t answer — or forget.
 
Since the critical and commercial triumph of Hilary Mantel, the historical novel is newly respectable. One hopes that Michel Faber can do something similar for speculative writing. Defiantly unclassifiable, “The Book of Strange New Things” is, among other things, a rebuke to the credo of literary seriousness for which there is no higher art than a Norwegian man taking pains to describe his breakfast cereal. As well as the literature of authenticity, Faber reminds us, there is a literature of enchantment, which invites the reader to participate in the not-real in order to wake from a dream of reality to the ineffability, strangeness and brevity of life on Earth.
 
...like the best sci-fi or fantasy, the novel is really an examination of humanity. It is also a powerful and, one suspects, personal meditation on the limitations of the flesh, and the capacity of either love or faith to endure extreme pressure. Startlingly tender and bold in conception, it offers a bleak vision of our future that also holds fast to the hope that, in Larkin’s phrase, “what will survive of us is love”.
 
The book isn’t without a few niggling problems.... But the genuinely inquisitive and searching story in The Book of Strange New Things ultimately trumps such minor logistical concerns. This is a novel of big ideas by a writer of unusual intelligence and lucidity, and it lingers in the mind after the final page is turned.
 

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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (2)

"It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter's teachings--his Bible is their "book of strange new things." But Peter is rattled when Bea's letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea's faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter. Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us" --

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