Ad Limina by Cy Kellet

by | May 31, 2021 | Science Fiction

Genre

Science Fiction

Audience

Highschool & Up

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2017

Themes

Body Ethics, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Post-humanism, Human experimentation, Space Colonization, Fascism, Liberalism, Bishops, The Priesthood, Mars, Space, Space Exploration

 

Reviewed by

A.R.K. Watson

Ad Limina is a fantastic journey across a landscape that explores common sci-fi ideas through the eyes of the Church. It also paints a picture of a galaxy on the brink of war over ideals all too common in our current day and the Church’s conflicted position among them. On one side are the Jupiter Fascists, ruled by a brutal dictator, they at least allow religious freedom, and on the other are the Democratic Liberals of Earth, who classify most religions as hate groups and let things like human-experimentation slide, even as they allow more public freedom of speech and democratic leadership. Bishop Mark Gastelum views both sides with the suspicion of a Catholic who has seen regimes come and go while the Church remains. The contrast was fascinating. I finished this in three days because I could not put it down. That this book was published in 2017 and probably being written long before that shows that Cy Kellet has that presience found in the best of science fiction writers. I look forward to seeing what he writes next.

Subscribe to our Newsletter & Get Weekly Catholic Books for as little as $1

Bishop Mark Gastelum is the first native-born Bishop of Mars and the first called upon to make the Ad Limina journey, the regular pilgrimage of a Bishop to visit the Pope in Rome. Usually Bishops are called upon to make this journey every five years, but given dangers and expense involved, the bishops of Mars had been granted an exemption. Bishop Mark will be the first to make it. His journey is hampered even more by the fact that the Catholic Church is classified as a hate-group by the governments of Earth, and thus he has to book his transportation on an unregistered transport. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when their ship gets commandeered by the Fascist colony of Jupiter, who have a very special message for him to carry to the Pope.

Over the course of his journey, the Bishop realizes that an interplanetary war is brewing, a war in which neither side has much regard for any religion including his own. Though he finds both sides distasteful, he knows that he- and the Church- will have to pick one eventually.

From there, the Bishop’s journey takes him to all manner of strange colonies. My favorite stop was at a scientific research station where he meets a man named Doug. The subject of an experiment, Doug had his brain removed at a young age and placed in the body of an ape. The Bishop’s and Doug’s conversations about salvation, the nature of the soul, and medical ethics were very moving.

Subscribe to our Newsletter & Get Weekly Catholic Books for as little as $1

I recommend this book to any sci-fi fan of high school age and up. Kellet’s writing style reminds me strongly of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. There is some discussion of pornography when the Bishop is forced to take part of his journey on a pleasure cruise liner, but nothing is explicitly shown. Still, parents might want to consider that this book does address that adult issue.

Sure to be a science fiction classic, Ad Limina explores the future while also casting a reflective light on our current history. This one is going on my bookshelf for books to share with my children as they grow.

Subscribe

Subscribe to Catholic Reads to get access to Catholic Literature from 50% off to FREE

Sunrise on the Icewolf by Colleen Drippe

Helen grew up on a world ruled by women where showing interest in your father is taboo, but she will journey across planets to save him.

The Vines of Mars by A.R.K. Watson

While tracking down his sister’s murderer, a Martian farmer discovers a secret that may destroy his colony.

Pink Noise by Leonid Korogodski

A classic Martian adventure that plumbs the spiritual life of a future humanity.

The Joining by J. H. Dierking

The aliens will surprise you and lead you into greater insight into how our own bodily design determines much of what is considered right and wrong.

Please Don’t Feed the Dinosaurs by Corinna Turner

A series of dino adventures that has been doing better what the mainstream Jurassic Park series only recently attempted.

Gifts Visible and Invisible

If you are looking for a cozy read to get into the Christmas cheer, this collection has it all.

Do Carpenters Dream of Wooden Sheep? by Corinna Turner

A poignant retelling of the Holy Family in a cyberpunk universe.

Nowhither by John C. Wright

Ilya Muromets fights off a dozens of tempting sirens and finally grows into the man he needs to be to defeat the Dark Tower.

The City and The Dungeon by Matthew P. Schmidt

Who knew fighting monsters in a D&D dungeon could convince him that not everything can be attributed to a chance roll of the dice?

Comet Dust by C.D. Verhoff

A Catholic end-of days inspired by the private revelations of the saints.

Unclaimed, Nameless, & Vanished by Erin McCole Cupp

Jane Eyre re-imaginged in a world where cloning, and genetic manipulation have returned us to a class system.

August & September New Book Releases

Step into Fall with a Good Book

Strange Matter by Brian Niemeier

Ready for the end of the world, battle mechs, and body swaps? This collection of short stories has it all.

Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon By Corinna Turner 

A human-sheep hybrid’s friendships with a friendly vampire and a very angsty house-wolf are tested in this story that explores nature versus nurture. 

Why Reading Fiction Made Me a Better Catholic

How reading fiction became a crucial step in my conversion to the Catholic Church.

The Pre Persons by Phillip K. Dick

The pro-life Phillip K. Dick story so prophetic it was buried.

A Very Jurassic Christmas by Corinna Turner

Christmas with Jurassic dinosaurs is often wild!

Markmaker by Mary Jessica Woods

Aboard a world-ship, in an alien society, one artist’s quest for truth will turn his whole society upside down.

Breach! by Corinna Turner

Isaiah’s got a T-rex size problem, but this time, it’s not a dinosaur.

Discovery by Karina Fabian

What happens when a team of sisters join a treasure hunt for the first alien ship? Oddly enough, a lot of hilarity.