Debut author Spellmann offers a sci-fi novel about extraterrestrial interest in a Messiah on Earth.
In the year 5023 B.C., a silver spacecraft from the planet Bigor lands on Earth. The ship is damaged and unable to send out a distress signal. Capt. Aladam, Dr. Evaze, and the rest of the Bigorite crew determine that they may be marooned for some time. What will happen when they come into contact with the native people? Years later, back on Bigor, a man named Toler is to be sent to Earth on a “scientific-cultural mission” to determine the effect of a past “preternatural extraneous intervention” or “PEI”—a man who was planted on Earth some 30 years before. Toler and his companion, a teenager named Sarn, must determine how that man has influenced the local population. Although it seems like a straightforward mission, Toler’s life is threatened almost immediately. Readers soon learn that the PEI in question is none other than Jesus Christ, and, although Toler and Sarn intend just to observe him, there are other Bigorites who would like nothing more than to see the Messiah obliterated. Spellman combines traditional stories of Jesus—such as his casting of demons into swine, from the New Testament—with laser guns and curious aliens in this novel, which makes for a surprising mixture. The story is slow and a bit obvious at the beginning—it doesn’t take much imagination to guess who Aladam and Evaze represent, although it takes a great deal of patience to get through their subplot. Mostly, though, the story hits many thoughtful marks: for example, the alien travelers discuss the nature of Messiahs in general, and Toler guesses that Messiahs launch their careers around the age of 30 because “They’re in between impetuous youth and conservative middle age.” The abundance of characters with retro-sounding sci-fi names, such as Lybur and Derxter, can distract from the more insightful moments. On the whole, though, the story provides intriguing anthropological reflection and outer space adventure.
A nuanced, if sometimes sluggish, meditation on a savior.