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Book Information: Sparrow, the

Sparrow, the (1996) [Novel]
by Mary Doria Russell Rating: Weighted - 8.4 / Average - 8.4 of 10 (24 votes) (Rate!)
Reviews: 3 (show them) Review!

Series: Sparrow, the
Part: 1

Summary (From the publisher):

It was predictable, in hindsight. Everything about the history of the Society of Jesus bespoke deft and efficient action, exploration and research. During what Europeans were pleased to call the Age of Discovery, Jesuit priests were never more than a year or two behind the men who made initial contact with previously unknown peoples; indeed, Jesuits were often the vanguard of exploration.

The United Nations required years to come to a decision that the Society of Jesus reached in ten days. In New York, diplomats debated long and hard, with many recesses and tablings of the issue, whether and why human resources should be expended in an attempt to contact the world that would become known as Rakhat when there were so many pressing needs on Earth. In Rome, the questions were not whether or why but how soon the mission could be attempted and whom to send.

The Society asked leave of no temporal government. It acted on its own principles, with its own assets, on Papal authority. The mission to Rakhat was undertaken not so much secretly as privately--a fine distinction but one that the Society felt no compulsion to explain or justify when the news broke several years later.

The Jesuit scientists went to learn, not to proselytize. They went so that they might come to know and love God's other children. They went for the reason Jesuits have always gone to the furthest frontiers of human exploration. They went ad majorem Dei gloriam: for the greater glory of God.

They meant no harm.

Original title: The Sparrow
Original languages: English


Genre: FictionScience FictionAlien BeingsFirst Contact
FictionScience FictionReligionGod


  • Cover art: Front top and back of jacket, Giotto di Bondone, Scrovegni Chapel Ceiling (detail), c. 1340. Front bottom, Giotto di Bondone, Saint Francis of Assisi Preaching to the Birds (detail), San Francisco, Assisi, c. 1305
  • FOR MAURA E. KIRBY AND MARY L. DEWING quarum sine auspico hic liber in lucem non esset editas

Edition #1: Sparrow, the

Sparrow, the (1996)
Awards: James Tiptree, Jr. Award (1996)
Edition Details:

Language: English

  • "A startling, engrossing, and moral work of fiction." The New York Times Book Review
  • "A notable achievement... Russell shows herself to be a skillful storyteller who subtly and expertly builds suspense." USA Today
  • "An experience not to be missed... If you have to send a group of people to a newly discovered planet to contact a totally unknown species, whom would you choose? How about four Jesuit priests, a young astronomer, a physician, her engineer husband, and a child prostitute turned computer expert? That's who Mary Doria Russell sends in her new novel, The Sparrow. This motley combination of agnostics, true believers, and misfits becomes the first to explore the Alpha Centuri world of Rakhat with both enlightening and disastrous results.... Vivid and engaging... An incredible novel." Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
  • "Powerful... Fahter Emilio Sandoz [is] the only survivor of a Jesuit mission to the planet Rakhat, 'a soul... looking for God.' We first meet him in Italy... sullen and bitter.... But he was not always this way, as we learn through flashbacks that tell the story of the ill-fated trip.... The Sparrow tackles a difficult subject with grace and intelligence." San Francisco Chronicle
  • "Smooth storytelling and gorgeous characterization... Important novels leave deep cracks in our beliefs, our prejudices, and our blinders. The Sparrow is one of them." Entertainment Weekly
  • "Compelling... suspenseful." Seattle Times
  • "Provocative, challenging... Recalls both Arthur C. Clarke and H. G. Wells, with a dash of Ray Bradbury for good measure." The Dallas Morning News
  • "It is rare to find a book about interplanetary exploration that has this much insight into human nature and foresight into pssible future. With wit and intelligence, Mary Doria Russel's novel The Sparrow creates a whole new rold that is shocking in its alien and human qualities.... Vivid and wild." San Antonio Express
  • "[A] strikingly original debut... At once thought-provoking and exciting, offering proof of its author's singular talents—and of the continued vitality of science fiction as a genre of ideas." Baltimore City Paper
  • "Brilliant... A startling portrait of an alien culture and of the nature of God... Shades of Wells, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Arthur C. Clarke with just a dash of Edgar Rice Burroughs—and yet strikingly original." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • "A smart, sad, and engrossing novel." The Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • "Riveting." Booklist (starred review)
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Manifested in:

Sparrow, the (1997)

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0449912558
Dimensions: 5.6 x 8.4 x 1
Pages: 408

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