Set in a future in which humans have spread out past Earth’s boundaries into space and encountered alien life, “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” is a short piece that explores the intersection of different cultures and belief systems out in the cosmos. Specifically, the interaction between humans who carry their faith and religion out and proselytize and the very different lifeforms they encounter.
Have you ever read a story that you can objectively say “this is well written, has an approach I haven’t seen before, and I should like it,” and yet you don’t connect to it?
This is how I feel about this novelette. I ought to like it. It’s smart. Well-written. The protagonist is interesting. But I don’t connect. I suspect it’s because of the religious overtones; the main character, Harry, is the leader of a non-Earth based branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One of my personal foibles is that I tend to get tetchy any time I feel like I’m being preached at, and Harry’s faith approaches that line, at least for me. It doesn’t help that I flat-out disagree with Harry’s approach, though to a point I can understand it. I sympathize much more with the other human we see in the story, a scientist named Jaunita.
Having said that, though, I can appreciate Stone’s writing, and his treatment of how an Earth-based faith could intersect with other, non-terrestrial beings (especially when at least one of those beings apparently predates all other life in the solar system). “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” is an interesting read. Eric James Stone has made it available online for free here. Whether or not you have my hang-ups regarding established religion and/or reading deeply religious characters, this Nebula-nominated work is well worth your time.