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'I am with you always, even unto the end of the world . . .'
Peter Leigh is a missionary called to go on the journey of a lifetime. Leaving behind his beloved wife, Bea, he boards a flight for a remote and unfamiliar land, a place where the locals are hungry for the teachings of the Bible - his 'book of strange new things'. It is a quest that will challenge Peter's beliefs, his understanding of the limits of the human body and, most of all, his love for Bea.
The Book of Strange New Things is a wildly original tale of adventure, faith and the ties that might hold two people together when they are worlds apart. This momentous novel, Faber's first since The Crimson Petal and the White, sees him at his expectation-defying best.
WINNER OF THE SALTIRE BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD
AS HEARD ON BBC RADIO 4
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Novelist Michel Faber gained fame with his horror-tinged debut, Under the Skin (now a film) and 2002’s edgy Dickensian tale The Crimson Petal and the White. The Dutch-born, Scotland-based author’s newest book is another genre-bending masterpiece. Peter and Bea are a devout couple who dedicate their lives to propagating their religion, all while struggling to stay hopeful and connected in their own relationship. The Book of Strange New Things opens with Peter embarking on a murky mission to Oasis, a faraway planet where he’ll minister to the local extraterrestrials. Hallucinogenic, spooky and fascinating, Faber’s tale is an original meditation on faith and the end times.
Faber's (The Crimson Petal and the White) novel could at first be mistaken for another period piece, as a Christian missionary named Peter bids farewell to his devoted wife, Beatrice, and departs on a mission in foreign lands. Only gradually does the reader discover that the book is set in the far future, where half of what survives is owned by a shadowy company called USIC and that it is not the inhabitants of a mere continent whose souls Peter aims to save, but those of a whole new planet, known as Oasis. He finds willing converts in the alien Oasans they are eager to learn each new lesson from the Bible, which they call The Book of Strange New Things but his relations with his fellow human colonists are far rockier. What's worse, Beatrice writes to Peter with grim reports of life back on Earth, where a series of calamities seems to signal the coming apocalypse; more devastating is her confession that she is pregnant with their child in an environment suddenly less hospitable to life than Oasis. Peter will come to question both the finer points of Scripture and his faith as he chooses between the old world and the new. Faber's story isn't eventful enough to support its length, and Beatice and Peter's correspondence grows tiresome. But the book wears its strong premise and mixture of Biblical and SF tropes extremely well.