My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I wanted more from this story. More nuance. More suspense. More length, really. The ending comes much too soon. We need much more space and breath after the penultimate paragraph.
The story’s brevity also means we don’t come to the Jesuit’s crisis of faith as honestly as we ought.
In the end, he doesn’t stop believing in God….he’s simply unable to believe in God’s goodness. In another setting, on another world, in the debris of another supernova, he might just as well have kept believing in God’s goodness and stopped believing in God’s omnipotence. Either are perfectly logical solutions to the problems of evil and entropy. I would have liked to see him wrestle with that. I would have liked some more evidence of his prior dark nights of the soul, or some more filled-out allusions to that tradition.
Like I said, the ending comes far too soon. I’m shocked that this story, in this form, won a Hugo Award. I suppose it was considered groundbreaking in 1956. It feels to me like a missed opportunity.