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The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)
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Read Alongs > [November] The Sparrow

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message 1: by imyril (last edited Nov 08, 2019 01:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

imyril | 270 comments Mod
Yep, there's 2 read-alongs for Sci-Fi Month - I have dragged my heels, but a group read of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell is ON. Why did the Jesuits send a spaceship to another planet? What went so terribly wrong when they got there? I adored this book back when I read it, and I'm really excited to reread - tag yourself if you'd like to join me.

Wednesday 6th November | Beginning through end Chapter Eleven
Wednesday 13th November | Chapter Twelve - Nineteen
Wednesday 20th November | Chapter Twenty - Twenty-six
Wednesday 27th November | Chapter Twenty-seven - end

(Spoiler-tagged) Discussion questions will be posted here the preceding Sunday (or as close to it as possible).

Spoiler warning: there is active discussion in this thread - 'ware untagged spoilers if you haven't read the book before!

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Lisa (deargeekplace) | 505 comments Mod

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Ash (_ash) | 4 comments Yay!

message 4: by imyril (last edited Nov 04, 2019 05:46AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

imyril | 270 comments Mod
Sorry for the late questions this week! Best laid plans, etc...

(view spoiler)

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Mark | 1 comments imyril wrote: "Sorry for the late questions this week! Best laid plans, etc...

1. "They went ad majorem Dei gloriam: for the greater glory of God. They meant no harm." What was your initial/gut response to the..."

1. It didn't particularly move me. I'm not Catholic (or any sort of Christian), though. I don't think you have to be understand and appreciate the book. But I do think someone with a Catholic background will get something different out of it.

2. Nobody saw cell phones coming the way they have.

3. Emilio and Sofia are both highly damaged people.
Jimmy Quinn isn't damaged at all, to the extent that his lack of damage might itself be a form of damage. His height, his gawkiness in pairing with his scientific interests make him a bit of a broad stroke "nerd" character.
The portrayal of Anne has a fair degree of subtlety and ambiguity: I'm not always sure how to interpret what she says and does. I think this is a feature, not a bug. It's a virtue of the book that it keeps to it's limited POV and doesn't give you a clear idea of what she's thinking.
We only see George when we see Anne; we only hear about his other activities. He feels the least developed of the characters so far.
4. Some of its work is certainly admirable. I respect the ethos of service. It never occurred to me, really, that priests could have that level of doubt, that some might not even have the "experience" of God's presence. I'm gaining a better appreciation for the multiplicity of forms that faith can take, which run the spectrum from full-on Joan of Arc "hearing God" to making a *choice* to believe.
What I have a hard time with is understanding the choice to believe. I'm a skeptic with a naturalist bent, and it's difficult for me to understand the motivation to believe without the evidence of first-person experience.
I once joked that while "spiritual, but not religious" is a category for people characterizing their religious status, "religious, but not spiritual isn't." It turns out, actually, that it is. And that seems to be a big part of the Society's niche.

The Captain | 2 comments 1. "They went ad majorem Dei gloriam: for the greater glory of God. They meant no harm." What was your initial/gut response to the Prologue?

What a cool reason for the Jesuits to be involved and how are the humans going to screw up the aliens this time?

2. How are you getting on with the split timeline and the many points of view? How about Mary Doria Russell's predictions for 2019?

I actually don't mind the split timeline in this. I was equally enthralled by both and wanted to know what's going on. I do wish that our 2019 current space program was as advanced.

3. What are your first impressions of the characters? Any favourites so far?

Emilio is certainly me favourite. Sophia be a close second.

4. From what we learn of Emilio's training and what we see in the 'present' day (2050s), what do you make of the Society of Jesus as portrayed here?

I am not religious meself but I actually like the Jesuits as portrayed in this book. I mean there is always politics in every thing but I like their focus on education and their ability to have faith and science together. I also like their focus on serving humanity.

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Lisa (deargeekplace) | 505 comments Mod
Better late than never! My thoughts are released into the wild here: https://deargeekplace.com/greater-glo...

imyril | 270 comments Mod
I suspect we'll all gain plenty of fodder for considering our attitudes to religion, faith and spirituality in the coming weeks :)

For me, I like the intentions of the Jesuits but oh boy I'm leery of the suggestion that it's okay to manipulate/use people. I can't help but think that will always have collateral damage for (some of) the people involved (o hai Emilio - although at least he was entirely complicit in going to Rakhat!) - and I don't have the comfort of faith to make me feel okay about the ends justifying the means.

100% with the Captain in wishing we had such an advanced space program!

imyril | 270 comments Mod
Ahem, I think late questions are a feature not a bug on this read-along - apologies folks. Here's some questions for week two - feel free to answer some or all of them!

(view spoiler)

The Captain | 2 comments If you were choosing who to send to make first contact on a newly-discovered planet, how would you approach it?

I would pick someone way smarter than meself to make the decisions. If NASA still existed then I would choose them.

Would you go to Rakhat if you were in Anne/Sofia's shoes? Why/not?

I be a klutz and so going to a new planet where I could get others killed? No way. I would only go to space after a VERY safe space tourist industry was in place.

What would be your essential items to pack on a voyage into the unknown? Coffee? Duct tape?

food, medical supplies, me cutlass.

Anne and Emilio both talk passionately about vows this week and give Jimmy a new perspective. What do you think?

Trust be key. Me Ship Me Rules. And as long as vows are mutual and don't hurt someone, then each to their own.

What do you think the outcome will be of the attraction between Emilio and Sofia?

I finished the book so, well, I already know.

There has been much allusion to God's will this week, both positive (removing hindrances) and negative (Alan's death). Any thoughts you'd like to share?

Being non-religious meself, I don't get the bother about which religion ye are. That said I love learning about different religions. If a higher power exists, then the status of the soul is between the higher power and the individual. I try to respect all religions and use the same "And as long as vows are mutual and don't hurt someone, then each to their own."

Anything else you'd like to reflect on?

I have been really enjoying all the various viewpoints about this book. This would be an excellent book club book. Arrrr!

imyril | 270 comments Mod
Oh gosh, I just keep getting later and later... week 3 questions below the cut!

(view spoiler)

...and of course any other thoughts or predictions you have to share! Me, I'm still chewing over concepts of sainthood.

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