Sunday, December 18, 2022

The Last Wise Man, by Eileen Enwright Hodgetts (author), Leah Klocko (narrator)

Emerge Publishing, August 2021

This is a frustrating, disappointing story. It's the Nativity story, set on another planet in the distant future. The planet has a small and dwindling population of humans, accepted or tolerated to various degrees by the egg-laying natives. We meet three of the humans, who are hearing a voice asking "Where is he?"

There's also, of course, a new star in the sky.

One of the three humans is a young man born on this planet; the second is an older man who was born on Earth before the last humans were forced to leave, and the third is an ancient monk who has been wandering in the wilderness, but now has a vital task to perform.

The premise of the story is that yes, God does send His Son to other intelligent species in the universe, and it's the turn of this planet and its native species.

And the monk says that the universe was created in six days, and is clear about it being six literal days.

I was raised Catholic, attended a Catholic women's college, and am now Episcopalian. I do not hold with the fundamentalist idea that the fossil and genetic evidence for evolution, the half-lives of radioactive elements, and the astrophysical evidence of the age of the universe is just God lying to us to test our faith. No, the universe really is thirteen billion years old, Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and all life on Earth evolved from unicellular ancient life.

I could accept this for the sake of the story--easily, in fact, if the story were good enough. It isn't. The writing is competent, but no better than that. The religious lessons the monk teaches his companions are simplistic. The monk himself is a slightly more complex character, and yet that's not put to work in any way that substantially improves the story. We barely see the natives, or learn anything about their culture and biology except that they're egg-layers and may be matriarchal.

There's just not much to engage me, here, and let's remember, I'm religious. I'm Christian. I believe the original of the core story, here. I can't imagine what this story can offer to anyone whose beliefs on this are substantially different from mine (atheist, agnostic, or religious but not Christian.) The attraction for me was a Savior to another intelligent species. And I feel I wasted my time listening to this story, even though it is competently written, and in fact has quite a good narrator.

Not recommended.

I received this book as a gift from the author's newsletter. (Yes, that does make me feel a little guilty.)

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