THE BOOK OF FEASTS & SEASONS is a beautifully mind-bending stroll with a grandmaster of science fiction through the annual Catholic calendar. Over the course of the year, from January to December, the author takes his inspiration from ten different holidays and explores their meanings in a series of stories of marvelous imagination. ...I'd already read several of these stories online, exactly where escapes me but probably on the author's blog. However, seeing how many pieces from this collection were nominated for Hugos made me finally pick up the book.
Stories range from noir style mystery to dinosaurs to time travel to mad scientists in the best tradition of solid science fiction. Wright also weaves in Christian themes, often specifically Catholic ones, which is only to be expected since the book's description points out that the author is following the Catholic liturgical calendar.
What is a mystery is how Wright manages write stories so centered in science fiction while also staying so centered in Catholicism. In a sense these could be compared to the Narnia books or C.S. Lewis's space trilogy. Except, of course, they are so obviously the creation of John C. Wright that they are entirely new and fresh.
As in any collection I liked some more than others but all are good. My absolute favorite is Nativity which caught me by surprise and left me off balance. Wright so absolutely captured the mystery, the uncertainty, the doubt, and gift of faith in that story. I felt the reality of the Passion and crucifixion, I felt the wonder and freshness of the nativity, I felt the marvel of Creation. I was in tears at the end and thankful for the goodness of God.
I do wonder whether non-Christians can enjoy these stories but obviously the answer is yes since so many of them were nominated for the Hugos by science fiction fans.