The Book Of Strange New Things is about Peter Leigh, a former junkie who finds Jesus one night thanks to two broken ankles and a trip to the hospital where he meets his wife-to-be Bea. Peter becomes a Christian minister in England with a little church and as the story opens, we find Peter leaving the small church to go to a far-away planet to spread the gospel to the natives there. He has been selected as a missionary by USIC, a corporation building a settlement on the planet. Bea, his wife, has not been selected and will be staying behind. We find Peter and Bea on the way to the airport pulling over to have sex one final time before they are separated for an unspecified time period. This normally would turn me off, since I have a personal aversion to gratuitous sex, but it is anything but that as the story goes on.
After a trip to the US and boarding the spaceship, Peter awakes to find himself arriving on Oasis and here the beauty of Faber’s writing shines through. The reader can very nearly imagine himself there or at the very least Peter there. The entire selection process, trip to Oasis, description of the planet could not have been more beautifully written for the early 21st century reader. It is something we would be familiar with, yet at the same time alien. Faber’s descriptions of Peter’s ministry treat his faith with care and show what it means to care for others more than yourself, as Peter so often does in this book.
Faber’s novel treats Peter’s Christian faith with respect, as Father Peter treats others with respect and you can understand the love and care Peter feels for his Jesus Lovers. The Book of Strange New Things is a masterpiece work of science fiction, but it does not read like science fiction. It reads like literature and I felt sadness when the book ended. I just wanted to know more…
Book Details: Published by Hogarth (June 30, 2015), 528 pages, ISBN-10: 0553418866.