A Case of Conscience by James Blish:
Science Fiction Inventions, Technology and Ideas

"Rarely, if ever, has science fiction plumbed so deeply and with such sensitivity the depths of human thoughts and emotions as in this case. For here, Earthmen's vote has a direct effect upon the future of a planet, their own culture and the universe itself. "


('A Case of Conscience' by James Blish)

This is a wonderful book; first published in 1953 as a novella, and then as a novel in 1959; it was a winner of science fiction's Hugo award. It is both a fast-paced adventure story and a very thoughtful look at human values and ethics. Religious values are also explored, by looking at the creatures of the planet Lithia who appear to be moral creatures, though lacking belief in god. It is this very question that underlies our country's separation between church and state; if you do not believe that it is possible to be moral without religion, how can you separate the state from religion?

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Message Tree - communication standard for a world
A tree growing out of a huge cliff of crystal provides communication for a world.

 

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