Karina Fabian latest novel is a SF first contact called Discovery.
First off there was just so much I enjoyed. I just love the concept of an order of Religious sisters dedicated to rescuing people involved in accidents in space (Our Lady of the Rescue).
An apparently dead alien starship is detected in the Kuiper Belt on an asteroid and a team has been sent out to investigate. The “Rescue Sisters” were sought out to join the mission and to provide training and oversee safety.
An interesting premise, but what I think I loved most was the characters in the story. There is lots of tension involving competing groups and individuals with there own ideas on what first contact might bring. A clash of worldviews. Their is some depth to the characters in the story. Various levels of brokenness among the crew and the sisters.
The faith of the sisters play a large part in the novel and the resolution of it. Villians in the plot are not two-dimensional characters just to provide tension and to move the plot. They have a realism to their motives and for the Rescue Sisters there is more than just physical rescuing.
Sister Rita, a central character, is having to face a situation she in part ran from as someone from her past is part of the crew. There were many ways this plot point could have gone cliche, but didn’t. The character of Sister Ann was quite memorable. She had a way of speaking in non-linear way of expressing the spiritual dimension of things. Perceptive and wise, but also having her own problems to resolve.
Add to this the discovery of something on the alien ship that throws the crew into conflict.
As a SF novel I thought the story was quite good on it’s own merit. How character-driven this novel was enhanced the story. I have read several of Karina Fabian’s books and the majority were comic novels making the most of a fun concept. Discovery is a more serious SF novel, but her wit does poke through from time to time. I would certainly like to read more of the Rescue Sisters.
While the Catholicism of the book is central to the main characters, it is integral with the story and is in no way “hit-you-over-the-head-message-fiction.”
Here is a recent interview she did with Ellen Gable Hrkach that I found interesting.