Old Worlds, New Futures: A Review of Jessica Pegis’s The God Painter


The God Painter by means of Jessica Pegis. Stone Table Books (October 2021). 294 pages. $29.

The God Painter is a fascinating paintings of science fiction that takes position within the yr 2035. This style is a type of speculative writing with established literary conventions, however what makes this novel in particular distinctive is the non secular standpoint from which Pegis writes. In the outlet chapters, we be told that human beings are rescued from a deadly sun flare by means of seven mysterious “beings” who shipping them around the universe to the planet Ansar, which is uninhabited. It’s now not positive whether or not those are non secular beings or in all probability some type of extraterrestrial lifestyles, however it is exactly this vagueness which opens the reader’s thoughts to believe other chances beside the standard choices (particularly extraterrestrial beings). Earth’s main towns are recreated by means of a rescued humanity who start to rebuild society, in addition to themselves.

It’s a tidy conclusion that comes early on within the e-book, a cheerful finishing this is earned too simply and arrives with out battle or struggle. But that is when the tale actually starts, ie on the finish of a cataclysmic tournament. The identification of the mysterious beings who rescued the people stays in query because the plot unfolds, and their reputedly altruistic intervention on their behalf raises questions on the actual nature in their schedule. As a end result, the ambience is pervaded by means of restlessness, interest, or even a marginally of the uncanny. Naturally, the characters ponder whether their new fact is the whole lot apparently to be. The storyline of The God Painter starts within the aftermath of destruction, and this permits Pegis to behavior her tough, slow-burning exam of more than one social, political, and philosophical questions as her characters actually reinvent their international.

The God Painter is full of a refined suspense this is nonetheless very compelling. It’s an intriguing ingenious gesture which helps to keep the reader invested within the occasions of the radical whilst permitting them house to contemplate the profound realities the characters should now confront as they (re)construct human civilization. This is particularly true of Leo, a theology professor and Vatican marketing consultant. Leo’s discussions provide the textual content with the obvious non secular content material, and whilst his frame of mind may appear antiquated—and even misplaced throughout the novel’s futuristic surroundings—his personality is a selected manifestation of the bigger, extra summary topics of poser and spirituality which are the e-book’s basis. It is a smart and artistic paintings of religious creativeness which envisions science, era, and faith coexisting inside the similar existential panorama. These are topics our tradition in large part (and slightly uncritically I feel) assumes are mutually unique. Pegis presentations how all of them take part in the similar quest to know and prepare fact, or attach the human revel in to a better thriller.

I take into accout studying an interview with Margaret Atwood within the Atlantic the place she discusses the recognition of science fiction within the postmodern technology. For her, studying science fiction permits our imaginations to retain a way of wholeness this is not conceivable for theology on account of the entire historicizing that the bible underwent all the way through modernity. In some way, The God Painter reclaims that house of imaginative wholeness for spirituality/theological pondering which as soon as belonged to it. Beyond those generic issues, the radical grapples with probably the most maximum urgent problems we are facing in our tradition: social justice, human sexuality, the ever-expanding affect of era, to call a couple of.

Early on within the novel, we see Leo strive against with the truth of intersexuality, and the way it’s supposedly at odds with the Genesis tale of advent wherein God creates one guy and one lady, each and every with distinct sexual anatomy. One of the extra interesting facets of the radical (which provides that part of suspense I discussed previous) is how the entire “old” divisions relating to gender, privilege, and gear from the characters’ earthly lives go back swiftly and threaten to upend their newfound social steadiness. Conspiracy theories seem sometimes as smartly, and whilst I used to be studying I realized how this e-book could be very a lot a reflect for our personal instances. We have not left Earth for some other planet, however we are undoubtedly in the course of many profound cultural transitions; in some ways, then, The God Painter purposes as an allegory for the way people grapple with the go back of the previous as they search to construct another long run.

This novel is surely about survival, in particular what that actually manner. Biological survival is dropped at the fore within the sun flare disaster (which indubitably felt like a nod to the actual ecological threats going through our international due to local weather alternate). But what occurs after that? Is that every one there may be to the subject of surviving? I feel the radical’s solution to this query is not any. For me, the core of the tale is a testomony to the significance now not best of spirituality but in addition the inevitability of the everlasting, that feeling of status out of doors time as we seek for which means in a universe that may alternate greatly and indefinitely, with out caution. This sense of the everlasting nature of lifestyles pulses thru each web page. The characters search for indicators of the sacred in a courageous new international which feels abnormal and unfamiliar, a long run they should co-construct from the remnants in their former lives and selves.

There’s a formidable change in Chapter 14 the place Joy talks in regards to the presence of good looks within the abnormal. “I think we still long for beauty we cannot see,” she explains. “And we know this because we sometimes catch a glimpse of it. Anyone who has ever been in love knows how it colors one’s surroundings, how the plainest diner becomes paradise when one shares a table with the loved one.” Even on this length of rebuilding from the bottom up, the brand new population of Ansar are attracted to the supposedly “higher” human studies like love and good looks. In the traditional knowledge of classical psychology, those interests are normally reserved for after elementary survival wishes were met. But if the arena’s non secular traditions have anybody worth in not unusual, it is love. “If we love more, maybe we could see better,” Joy states. In the top, The God Painter presentations us that love and good looks are as necessary to our species’s survival as respiring.

Purchase The God Painter here,

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