Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Alpha Centauri

The Voyage
Being the true, candid, and unadulterated account of yet another great leap for mankind, mixed with the personal memories, irritations, and ramblings of Neil Ruiz de Hoyos
by Himself
(for his future edification and entertainment)

Did you, dear reader, do a double-take?  Did you look up, down, and around, to see if this review was a book review of Michael D. O’Brien’s Voyage to Alpha Centauri?
        Now you have experienced what the reader experiences upon opening O’Brien’s novel.  The very first page reads: The Voyage by Neil Ruiz de Hoyos.  The next page gives the usual Library of Congress information.  If this introduction was simply the beginning of O’Brien’s novel, would he go to such detail to introduce the story? 
Any doubts regarding O’Brien’s methods are quickly laid aside as you begin to read.  Immediately, the reader realizes he is reading Neil’s journal.  The journal relates an expedition in the future aboard a massive space ship, the Kosmos, to a planet orbiting the star, Alpha Centauri.  The story is told by the Noble prize winner, Dr. Neil de Hoyos, whose contribution to technology made the space ship a reality.
Life aboard the ship is recorded by Dr. Hoyos.  Life turns out to be extreme totalitarianism, managed by the DSI .  However, the ship’s captain and crew have autonomy in their own quarters.  The DSI are social engineers who act like big brothers forcing people to all behave in what they, alone,  have determined to be correct, manageable, and happy comportment.  This will prove to be the “end justifying the means.”
      The first half of the book establishes the war against human freedom and dignity.  The last half unabashedly establishes Catholic themes because the characters form a Catholic society, on the new planet.  It turns out that there was a Catholic underground aboard the ship that Neil never knew about.  There was a priest and a bishop, plus many faithful laity.  Mass was celebrated along with all the other sacraments.  A Catholic world will be established on this new planet, after overcoming the evil.  The evil will also be overcome on the space ship, also.  
      The novel is long.  The journey takes nine years, each way.  Trouble will waylay plans and the reader will be surprised by the twists and turns.  The end will tie up all the loose knots and satisfy the reader.  As usual with an O’Brien novel, the themes will keep you thinking. 
      I highly recommend The Voyage to Alpha Centauri.  It is very long, maybe too long for most people.  The first half was setting the scene for the second half, but if the reader has patience to stay with the story, he will be rewarded.  The pace picks up fast in the second half of the book.  All the action occurs in the second half.  The twists will keep the reader engrossed.  Best of all, is the mark the story will leave in the reader’s thoughts.  The reader will be left reconsidering his own perceptions about himself, society, freedom, science, and God.  Good writers can leave their mark on you.  Michael D. O’Brien is one of the best.

A Priest's Day

Here is the book review I promised on Monday, for Death Comes for the Archbishop , by Willa Cather.  She really gets into the nitty-grit...