Hard science fiction, a deeply dramatic character arc, lots of spiritual metaphor, and exploration of the interesting questions. This book has it all. Brett is a broken man. He’s never been the same since the death of his wife and children. He has turned away from his faith in God. With nothing left to loose, he takes on a dangerous job – being the first human to travel beyond light-peed on an inter-stellar journey to Alpha Centauri. Along the way, the ship’s computer – Jay – begins to show signs of artificial intelligence – of sentience.
This book deals with questions that some Christians might find controversial. If there were such a thing as AI, could a machine have a spiritual aspect to them? Could they have a soul? But isn’t that what good science fiction always does? It asks questions. It asks “What if?”
The structure of the book is atypical. It alternates between the present-day story on the spaceship, and glimpses from Brett’s past. I hesitate to call these flashback scenes back story, because they are intrinsically part of the tale being told. In much the same way as the television series Lost, each chapter features a story from a different part of Brett’s life. Scenes alternate between the present and flashbacks. These flashbacks are linked to the present-day part of the chapter on a thematic level. Each new chapter takes the back story further back in time – so we see Brett’s life in reserve. This structure takes a little concentration at first, but I figured out the pattern quite early, and then I just left myself get swept away by the story. I don’t want to give too much away, but there are important reasons for using this particular structure. Trust me – it works.
This story doesn’t just use space as a setting. It is a genuine science fiction story which has some interesting concepts and mysteries – many of which are never fully explained. This just adds to the feelings of wonder.
As a character drama – the book is filled with heart-ache and hope. You can’t help but feel for these characters.
This book deserves to be remembered as a classic. A true Christian Sci-fi.