For eons, Christians have looked to the heavens to admire the glory of God. But what if those celestial lights harbored alien intelligences, or worse yet, alien stupidities? Would these refute Christian belief instead of reinforcing it?
This is the dilemma confronted by Daniel Peyton’s novel Remnant. In a future in which one-world government has outlawed religion, readers meet a dissident astrogeologist simply named Anna. (Surnames, those vestiges of the biological family, are passé in this age.) She will have her faith shattered by the discovery of a pristine exoplanet that shelters what appear to be primitive ape-men, the long-sought proof-of-concept for human evolution.
But when Anna and her wisecracking robot sidekick start nosing around to verify her fears, she discovers layers of intrigue that threaten to leave her faith even more broken than before.
This is a bold thematic gambit, yet its execution leaves open some questions. Would not Christians, with their diversity of beliefs about human origins and Genesis, have different responses to the discovery of ape-men beyond Earth? Here, however, Christians on Earth may feel equally threatened by this discovery because they belong to the same sect of Messianic Jews in the city-state of Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, the atheistic regime’s imposition of universal sterilization and centrally planned breeding doesn’t seem to affect human citizens in outer space.
In either case, the story may simplify potential thematic complexities, down to the narrative style that offers easy-reading vocabulary describing adult situations.
Nonetheless, Remnant raises important questions. Its action propels readers into scenarios where the gospel is explicitly presented, with an American evangelical flavor, yet without seeming overly preachy.
Best for: Young adult readers in search of thought-provoking sci-fi romance.
Discern: Some sci-fi violence, scenes of sensuality, references to sex and sexual assault, non-graphic nudity, and interspecies romance.