Monday, June 24, 2002

Exile by Kevin Paglia


America House, 1588518744, $19.95



Mathias Kabrea is on the lam, surviving in a universe governed by an all-knowing computer called Nezzar created generations ago to bring order. Instead it brings fear, and at times chaos.





The life of a fugitive is the only one Mathias has known, ever since his father was killed by Nezzar's minions for publicly espousing his Christian beliefs. In this universe of diverse alien races, imposed atheism is the norm and acceptance of Christianity is a crime punishable by imprisonment, torture and eventually death. Mathias's situation is unique in that although he is lumped into this category, he does not intially consider himself Christian.



Through this imposed exile Mathias comes to meet many members of the underground Christian movement and grows to admire their faith and dedication. Imprisoned by Nezzar as one of them, Mathias soon comes to have visions of a being more powerful than the computer, a being who calls Mathias not only to tend to His flocks, but to bring them out of exile and into freedom. It is a challenge Mathias accepts, though his methods of achieving these goals are unorthodox in the eyes of the Christians he encounters.



Christian science fiction, I have believed, is probably one of the more difficult genres to write; while the marriage of faith and science is not impossible, authors trying to reach hard-core science fiction fans may find obstacles in those who find the prose too preachy. With Paglia's Exile that does not appear to be the case. While Mathias eventually becomes one of those he seeks to protect, he does so on his own terms, and does it wholly while relishing the challenges embracing the faith brings. Paglia offers in Exile a story of what it means to be a Christian set in a hostile time and environment that, given recent the recent Pledge of Allegiance controversy, sounds more like a vision of the future than simple fiction. It is a timely story despite the presence of alien beings and space stations, one marred slightly by numerous typographical errors.

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