The Book of Strange New Things

Michel Faber. Random/Hogarth, $28 (512p) ISBN 978-0-553-41884-2
Faber’s (The Crimson Petal and the White) novel could at first be mistaken for another period piece, as a Christian missionary named Peter bids farewell to his devoted wife, Beatrice, and departs on a mission in foreign lands. Only gradually does the reader discover that the book is set in the far future, where half of what survives is owned by a shadowy company called USIC and that it is not the inhabitants of a mere continent whose souls Peter aims to save, but those of a whole new planet, known as Oasis. He finds willing converts in the alien Oasans—they are eager to learn each new lesson from the Bible, which they call The Book of Strange New Things—but his relations with his fellow human colonists are far rockier. What’s worse, Beatrice writes to Peter with grim reports of life back on Earth, where a series of calamities seems to signal the coming apocalypse; more devastating is her confession that she is pregnant with their child in an environment suddenly less hospitable to life than Oasis. Peter will come to question both the finer points of Scripture and his faith as he chooses between the old world and the new. Faber’s story isn’t eventful enough to support its length, and Beatice and Peter’s correspondence grows tiresome. But the book wears its strong premise and mixture of Biblical and SF tropes extremely well. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/21/2014
Release date: 10/28/2014
Hardcover - 592 pages - 978-1-4434-3606-9
Ebook - 592 pages - 978-1-4434-3608-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-553-54623-1
Paperback - 528 pages - 978-0-553-41886-6
Hardcover - 500 pages - 978-1-78211-406-2
Paperback - 592 pages - 978-1-78211-407-9
Compact Disc - 978-0-553-54621-7
Paperback - 592 pages - 978-1-4434-3607-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4434-4287-9
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