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Letters from the Flesh
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2004
I was plesantly surprised when I read this.
The Book is in the form of letters. The first set are from an Alien visiting Earth around 2 thousand years ago.
The second set are e-mails between cousins.
I wasn't sure how both correspondences fit togather but Donnelly's storyline brought them togather effortlessly.
I was a little hesitant about the writing style but it really worked for this book.
I kept eagerly reading each letter to see where he was going with it.
Very good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2004
It's always a pleasure reading new fiction from Marcos Donnelly and his latest contribution to the SF world is no exception. Following the religious explorations of his first novel (as well as a number of his shorter pieces), Donnelly now turns the reader's eye to the conflict/tensions between science and religion -- in this case, Creationism and evolution -- while paying an endearing homage to C.S. Lewis' THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS in the process.
The book tells its tale through two sets of seemingly unconnected letters: One set from Dr. Lillian Uberland, a biology professor, to her sometimes bull-headed cousin Michael, and the other from Paul of Tarsus (after a fashion) shortly after his conversion on the road to Damascus two thousand years earlier. What emerges from these alternating storylines, apart from brilliant plotting and characterization, is an unrelenting examination of the passions of belief that is certainly refreshing to find in SF, much less the wider world of mainstream fiction.
Intelligent, engrossing, and blazingly (and brazenly) hilarious in parts, LETTERS FROM THE FLESH is a wonderful read through-and-through, and most assuredly does not disappoint.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2004
If you think the epistolary novel has gone out of style, think again. In LETTERS FROM THE FLESH, Donnelly brings it back with a vengeance. He takes on the debate of creationism versus evolution and breathes new life into it with a carefully constructed story line eerily reminiscent of C.S. Lewis' THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, remarkably deft prose, and an absolutely brilliant sense of satirical humor.
Donnelly avoids the trap of pigeonholing his characters into neatly drawn party lines and offers his readers one of the most interesting approaches I've ever seen to Christianity in science fiction. (Paul of Tarsus is masterfully rendered, and those of you familiar with the Bible will never see the Road to Damascus in quite the same way.)
This book is deceptively deep. What do people believe and why do they believe it? How entrenched are their beliefs and how far will they go to defend them? Donnelly makes us look at some tough questions and doesn't back off for the sake of comfortable answers.
This is what good fiction is all about: complex thematic issues, characters who are as formidable and real as we are, and thought-provoking arguments that make us want to think about them and debate their relevance long after we put down the book.
Some people will love this novel, while others will become afraid of it and think they hate it. That's what makes LETTERS FROM THE FLESH such a great piece of SF literature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2004
Marco Donnelly dares to tackle the sacred cows of science and religious faith in *Letter From the Flesh*.
Stories told in the form of letters are nothing new in Science Fiction. Charlie Gordon, one of literatures most endearing characters, tells his story in Daniel Keyes's *Flowers for Algernon* exclusively in progress report letters to his psychologist. Donnelly puts himself in good company for choosing a similar approach.
It is the story of Lillian Uberland, a biology professor, and her cousin Michael, a modern day high school teacher, fighting fundamentalist. Both drawn into the debate over evolution versus creationism, the two cousins correspond over e-mail on how to handle the zealots, but Lillian fails to convince Michael to follow her advice. The school suspends Michael from his job, and the two cousins begin snipping with one another.
We also learn the story of why Saint Paul's spiritual journey on the road to Damascus was like no other. Saint Paul was really an Asarkos, an immaterial alien, whom wakes to find himself trapped in the body of a material being. He is searching for 10 other missing Asarkos, who he suspects may be among those who follow a leader named Jesus Christ.

The structure of Letters from the Flesh, however, really owes more to C. S. Lewis's *The Screwtape Letters*, and it is clear that Marco Donnelly is paying his respects to an old master. What makes *Letters From the Flesh* different is that it tells two stories interwoven into one, separated by 2000 years of history.
What draws the reader into the story is the detail and depth Marco Donnelly puts into these characters. *Letters From the Flesh* transcends the ordinary by offering insights that are missing in traditional story telling. It manages to put forward startling new ideas, and yet keep the feeling that these are real people and not just characters in a book following a script.
Uncle Screwtape would be proud.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2004
Marcos takes on one of the oldest styles of fiction, a storey told throught correspondence, and adds a new twist, the two protagonists are telling their storey thousands of years apart. Both tales are gripping and compelling reading, making this work a page turner. The climax ties up all of the loose ends in a surprising and satisfying fashion.
This book definately deserves the buzz it is creating in the critical SF community.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2004
I'm always pleased when I find a fresh voice in Science Fiction. With the maturing of the genre, and the resultant explosion in availability, they have become few and far between. In "Letters from the Flesh", Donnelly tackles one of the cornerstones of Science Fiction, Religion, and does so both with a flair and a keen insight. Told in the form of two stories, one historical, one modern, it gives some interesting insights into the human condition. A solid start for someone who looks to become a significant addition to the field. I will look forward to hearing more from Morcos Donnelly.
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on June 15, 2004
SF has always had a fascination with the tension between religion and science. The result has been some of the most intelligent, literary and enduring novels ever written in the genre. Donnelly has written such a novel in "Letters from the Flesh".
Two seemingly separate but resonant plots move you through an examination of what it means to believe and what it takes to be a believer. But watch carefully, because Donnelly has as much to say about "scientific belief" as he does religious belief. This author obviously understands and sympathizes with believers in both.
But this novel is not a dry intellectual exercise. Donnelly's tightly written plot moves at an almost blistering pace, taking you from the crowded streets of ancient Damascus to a media-driven riot in modern America, delivering you to an unexpected resolution that is surprisingly tender.
Sometimes outrageous, always brilliantly executed and well-written, this novel is well worth the read.
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on June 15, 2004
SF has always had a fascination with the tension between religion and science. The result has been some of the most intelligent, literary and enduring novels ever written in the genre. Donnelly has written such a novel in "Letters from the Flesh".
Two seemingly separate but resonant plots move you through an examination of what it means to believe and what it takes to be a believer. But watch carefully, because Donnelly has as much to say about scientific dogma as he does religious belief. This author obviously understands and sympathizes with believers of both.
But this novel is not a dry intellectual exercise. Donnelly's tightly written plot moves at an almost blistering pace, taking you from the crowded streets of ancient Damascus to a media-driven riot in modern America, delivering you at an unexpected resolution that is surprisingly tender.
Sometimes outrageous, always brilliantly executed and well-written, this novel is well worth the read.
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on June 15, 2004
This slim little novel packs in some very big characters, some VERY big ideas and is guaranteed to stir the pot with atheists and fundamentalists alike. Forget "The DaVinci Code". This novel is controversial AND well written. Not to be missed.
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on July 14, 2004
This tale sets a new dimension in science fiction and examines what we think we know about our past, present, and future. Kudos to Marcos Donnelly for giving us a very interesting and original story.
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