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For Readers Age approx. 14+
Grades 10+
 

Infinite Space, Infinite God II - Review
< Back to reviews for ages 14+>

Publisher's Summary:  Fabian, Karina & Rob, editors. (2010) Infinite Space, Infinite God II. Kingsport, TN: Paladin Timeless Books, an imprint of Twilight Times Books. Author recommended age: teens. Litland.com recommended age: 15+ with Parental caution for the final story, Dyads.

Publisher’s Description: Twelve science fiction stories featuring great adventure with a twist of faith.  Infinite Space, Infinite God II spans the gamut of science fiction, from near-future dystopias to time travel to space opera, puzzles of logic to laugh-out-loud humor and against-the-clock suspense. A great read for any science fiction fan; a must-read for those seeking something new in their fiction.

   

Respect for self and others: This includes integrity (adherence to a code of conduct or value system), honesty vs. manipulation or lying, compassion, caring for others (characters not focused on getting their way no matter what) self respect--main character does not let others denigrate him or her; use of self control and self-discipline ; taking charge of own behaviour; fairness to others (such as taking turns and avoiding the blame game). Reader should ask themselves “How does the protagonist depict their peers?” “Would you want others to treat you this way? Should everyone act this way?” This includes true friendships that do not involve regular lying, deceit or manipulation; considering consequences of actions prior to acting; owning up to responsibility once an action has been taken.

 

Robert/Cassius’ self-talk demonstrates the struggle keeping his prophetic-like knowledge of the future tragedy from his new-found friends; his innate need to fuel this friendship with honesty creates the tension. Contrast to Sr. Rita’s far from perfect attitude that emanates from her own need to grow out of self-doubt and grow in to self-love, knowing comparing herself to others in envy just fuels the feeling of awkwardness.  There is also selflessness in Antivenin, risking life and limb (and overcoming phobias) to rescue others rather than presume they are dead. Meanwhile, Sr. Julian in story 3 rationally evaluates religions without judgement or disparaging them, and demonstrates respectful discourse with others of very different beliefs.  This list goes on; respect for self and others is demonstrated throughout.



Portrayal of Authority figures: The positive portrayal of parents, teachers, police officers and other “good” authority figures common in a child’s life is a positive influence upon the child’s own moral development. This includes actively-parenting mother and father figures. Minimization of parental involvement in the character’s activities or the portrayal of authority figures as inferior present poor role models. Also to be avoided are main characters that deceive parents and teachers to accomplish goals, and overuse sarcasm towards authority figures. Ask yourself “Are parents seen as positive or negative influence in the character's life?”

 

The Catholic authority hierarchy properly portrayed in each story, whether of the Vatican and diocesan structure, or religious orders. Family hierarchy and traditional parenting leading to a loving family life portrayed well in Ghosts of Kourion...Cassius envies Petronius for having the things that matter most in life: wife, child and contentment. In Cloned to Kill, Lorraine (the clone) has difficulty with the self-control programmed into her but overcomes it with belief and inner strength, then respecting the priest and turning from her maniacal creator. No stories portray authorities as bumbling fools or in a negative light; all imply a purpose and need to obedience.


Citizenship and Patriotism: Loyalty to family, team or group, school, community and world; caring for and being considerate of these groups. Pride to be part of that group or nationality.

 

We see in Ghosts of Kourion that, although his wife and daughter died 3 years back, they remain with Robert/Cassius as his family.  He remains committed and turns down offer to take another bride. Contrast this with the family of religious order Our Lady of Rescue for Sr. Rita, whose higher calling results in solid teamwork and loyalty to being a Rescue Sister as if they were space-aged Marines.  Or Sr. Julian who, in undermining the logic of the aliens, demonstrates their religion to view all living creatures as part of the extended family to be cared for. Aliens too have pride in their “nationality”


Justice and Balance: A just distribution between good and evil (with good outweighing evil in the presence of the storyline); demonstration of right and wrong; making decisions to enact the above values rather than simply choosing from two bad possibilities; Ask yourself “Is the emphasis on the positive elements or negative?”


 

Stories such as Ghosts of Kourion presume right and wrong, so the character defaults to acting out of good conscience. Reinforced with insights such as “only a monster would allow people to go blindly to their doom”, these stories strongly contradict the culture facing families today in which more and more society legislates rights that inhibit the well being of its citizens. The stories provide a much needed reminder of what it means to be human, including the existence of moral absolutes and that people hold intrinsic value.   

Other stories also illuminate evil when it hides under a false front, such as the cult-like snake handler, taking advantage of people’s faith, in Antivenin. Or Sr. Julian’s ethic of always choosing to save lives, compared to the aliens who do not use that as a basis for decisions. Throughout the book, good vs. evil is extremely clear. Characters choose for the good and are ready to “own up” to possible bad choices.



Aesthetic aspects Of life ExperienceLook for a storyline portrayal of beauty, health, and selfless love vs. hedonistic behaviours (sexuality, selfishness, obsessiveness, materialism), profanity, gore and violence. Are nature and environment respected or exploited? Look for dark elements; watch out for humor that is negative, denigrates others excessively, uses metaphors to denigrate the sacred.

 

The value of a collection of stories is the wide variety of settings. From Ghosts of Kourion, with culturally-rich self-talk describing the ancient Roman empire, to Antivenin with its subtle nuances distinguishing those who learned to walk on earth vs. those who have always lived in outer space, it is easy for the reader to feel part of the story.  Realistically portraying the transition of Rome from a culture of paganism to one of Christianity, the awkwardness of complex space gear for Sr. Rita, the emotional torment of a droid or a clone; all stories are deep in description placing us into the middle of each scene. We also feel the emotions of characters, such as in Ghosts of Kourin with the objective scientist Robert cascading emotionally as he (as Cassius) grows attached to his Roman friends.  After a heavy, thought provoking story such as Cathedral we are taken through one of light humour, such as a human clone making fun of the national hockey team in Cloned to Kill. Thus the variety is excellent and propels the reader throughout the book.



Other things to Consider:Other aspects of this book of interest or importance. For example, does it portray Wiccan practices and accurate use of tools of which some parents might object, does it contain hidden meanings in metaphors that may prove offensive to some families; does it address personal issues such as puberty or pregnancy.

 

We are what we read. Stories shape our knowledge of the world, our understanding of one another, and challenge us to critically think through our own existence. ISIGII is an intellectually stimulating collection of sci-fi, although it broaches subjects that may not be appropriate for younger advanced readers. As expected from a mix of authors and backgrounds, some stories have a few cuss words. Otherworld explores hedonism in the virtual world and answers the question “so what” with a solid explanation that sin is sin, whether in the real or virtual world. An important lesson for teens and adults to learn today. Meanwhile, a main theme in the story Tin Servants is the sexual abuse of very human-like female droids as sex slaves.  Issues in all stories are brought to conclusion with a strong moral conclusion, confirming right vs. wrong and good vs. evil.

 The exception would be the final story, Dyads, for which no underlying virtue or character trait made itself known upon review. It is based upon a religious assumption that God reveals himself differently to different species, as needed for them to understand Him.  “the Jesuit explanation of how the Eternal Dance and his (Christian) Trinity were one and the same, only we use the image of Husband and Wife instead of Father and Son.”  God and Mary are married, and the Eternal dance replaces the Holy Spirit.  This is a concern as teens already are in a psychological/cognitive state of vulnerability, impressionability. Conditioned by our real society towards fulfilling all hedonistic desires and under pressure to accept any beliefs and ideals under the guise of a false sense of tolerance, the mindset of the young adult reader today can be easily swayed into following diluted faith, faulty logic, and new age beliefs. In a culture that is in a great state of confusion, we instead need stories that add clarity through metaphor and analogy, and bring confusion together to a strong moral conclusion. The first 11 stories in this anthology do this quite well. Parents are advised to take Dyads under consideration. 

 Stories included (with their primary virtue or character trait expressed):

The Ghosts of Kourion – compassion and conscientiousness

Antivenin –loyalty & courage

An Exercise in Logic – respect for others

Cathedral -- Truth

Otherworld – Right vs. Wrong

The Battle of the Narthex-- Honor

Tenniel -- Contrition

Tin Servants -- Patience

Basilica  -- Good vs. Evil

Cloned to Kill  -- Equality

Frankie Phones Home -- Responsibility

Dyads

So what do YOU think? Read our thoughts on the book and join in the discussion: Litland's Blog   


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