by Robert Chase
Benedict paused as if contemplating the full extent of the scene he had described. "Nobody wanted war. All were acting in what they perceived to be their best interests. Yet their perceptions were so warped by their sins — you don't like that word, Chiang. Most of us don't. Perhaps I should date my conversion from the instant I realized that moral theology gave a more accurate account of human conduct than any school of psychology, because it understood that the basis of evil is intentional self-delusion."Not exactly the sort of statement that we are used to reading in science fiction, is it? However, this riveting book has the Church and Catholic teachings in the background the entire time, although they are rarely expounded upon as in the above excerpt.
Jon Lei Chiang, a powerful leader, kidnaps the last of the specially enhanced Multi-Neural Capacitants, Paul Niccolo Renard. Renard had joined an order of terraforming monks as Brother Benedict which is the first of the unexpected twists that Chiang experiences. In indenture to Chiang, Benedict must help him win a war against both his political enemies and also against the Bestials who are warring with human civilization. The Bestials also are "enhanced" humans who have been changed so much that there is much argument over whether they can be considered to be human or not.
This book covers much ground with many plot twists that are surprisingly timely, especially considering the current debates over manipulation of genetics. I found the last twist to be rather predictable but it is still a good read for all that. Definitely recommended.