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Has anyone else read James Blish's 1950's sci-fi novel, "A Case of Conscience"? I'm interested in opinions and analysis.

"A Case of Conscience" is primarily about a Jesuit priest and scientist who investigates an alien race that has no religion yet has a perfect, innate sense of morality, a situation which conflicts with Catholic teaching. The priest struggles with retaining his faith and justifying his belief in god. There is also some exploration of ethics and politics influencing scientific research.

I found the arguments and logic in the novel stilted and hard to follow. I read the entire book, though, because I wanted to see what the author was trying to say. I found the climax (a Because God scenario) disappointing especially as James Blish was considered to be an atheist for most of his life.

The Religious Affiliation of James Blish [adherents.com]

pixiedust 8 July 19
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It was an interesting but tedious piece. Blish had to work hard at getting things in place. Some of his arguments as developed by Ruiz-Sanchez were on the weak side and didn't fit into the theme all that well. One has to appreciate the book for the fact that it was one of the few and earliest Science Fiction works that looked at religious issues in any scope at all -- and it was unique in just how it did that. Though I wouldn't recommend it to anyone for an enjoyable read, I think it is well worth reading for the lessons it teaches in both the human condition (several perspectives) and the writing craft. I suggest that aside from it being a difficult read, it was a more difficult write. My hat is off to Blish for this one in spite of its ending that is not an ending.

My thoughts exactly, especially about the ending.


Wow! I must check it out, thanks for recommendation.

You're welcome. It's a tough read, but worth it in terms of its place in the sci-fi genre.

@pixiedust I am an adherent to the church of Iain M. Banks. His Culture novels are amazing.

@Palindromeman Hmm ...I must look them up.

@pixiedust Do so! Alas he is now morte, and his straight fiction was under Iain Banks, with his sci fi under Iain M. Banks.