What do you think?
Rate this book
624 pages, Paperback
First published October 6, 2014
Of course, everybody on earth had the power to reshape reality. It was one of the things Peter and Beatrice talked about a lot. The challenge of getting people to grasp that life was only as grim and confining as you perceived it to be. The challenge of getting people to see that all the immutable facts of existence were not so immutable after all.Sustaining a relationship over a long distance presents serious challenges. I tried it once or twice in my twenties. Of course that was back before the invention of the wheel, when communications technology lacked the immediacy of Facetime, Skyping, texting, instant messenger, even cell phones and e-mail. And calling long distance entailed costs far in excess of what one might incur today. Distance, it turns out, did not make the hearts involved grow fonder. Pastor Peter Leigh and his wife, Bea, face some of the challenges many of us did back in the distant past. Of course they are already married, which has to boost one’s commitment to keeping in touch. (or not, depending) But the distances involved make my New York to London, or DC, or New Hampshire connections seem paltry in comparison. Instead of hundreds or thousands of miles, try trillions. And despite the scientific advance that allows spacecraft to cover vast distances by jumping through worm-holes, the communication tech is a lot more like Pony Express than Star Trek
When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.Fittingly, I suppose, Peter does not question the origin of the locals’ interest in Jesus and the bible, opting to take the purity of their interest on faith. Much of the story is on how Peter goes about establishing his church on Oasis, how he gets to know and feel for the locals, and what he learns about the physical environment in which he is living. He is trying his best to be the rock on which this church is built. The Oasans have a culture, a community, but they are very unlike humans.
At the time I was hatching the book, I was very wearied by all the hidden agendas and neuroses of human beings. I think that one of the reasons I made up the Oasans was that it was like a fantasy of being able to hang out with people who were totally benign and totally un-ego-driven… The Oasans, on another level though they are a bit like sheep, or bees in a hive. Human beings are wonderfully various and distinctive and memorable and a lot of what makes them that way is their dysfunctions and their neuroses; you can’t have one without the other. – from Faber interview on The Awl.comThe environment that Faber concocts for Oasis is, despite a gross similarity to the planet we all know and litter on, quite different. Maybe it takes more exploration, but where are the mountains, rivers, lakes, oceans, forests? It does seem like a pretty lightly seeded rock for the most part. But it has some interesting characteristics, mostly having to do with how water cycles through, and how the local flora is transformed into edibles. There is also a lower life form that offers some surprises when it appears in numbers.
I didn’t know that Eva [Faber’s wife] was going to be diagnosed with cancer, but it certainly ending up being suffused with the anticipation of loss. The book’s about many other kinds of loss as well.It certainly seemed to me that the devastation being reported on earth might have been intended to echo damage to Peter and Bea’s marriage. And also might be a literary projection of the damage disease was wreaking on Faber's wife.
Nurse Flores spoke up again, her simian face unexpectedly illuminated with sharp intelligence.
She was heterosexual despite her butch appearance.
Her face betrayed no emotion, although her lips twitched once or twice. Maybe she wasn’t a strong reader, and was tempted to mouth the words?
It didn’t matter, for the moment, that she misjudged him. She was overwhelmed, she was in distress, she needed help. Rightness or wrongness was not the point.