Welcome to the second Reading Group discussion. This month we're looking at The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell - a personal favourite. The novel was published to near unanimous critical acclaim and should make for an interesting discussion. Please remember, it's never too late to join us in this discussion! If you're new to this forum don't hesitate to contribute. Below are a few starter questions / statements. These are only my attempt at getting the discussion started...don't feel as though you have to respond to them! Ignore them if you want to! (1) The Sparrow was originally marketed as a non-genre novel - why do you think this was the case? (2) Russell uses a complex structure in her novel - switching time frames and character points of view. Does she successfully utilise this technique? (3) Emilio '...had discovered the outermost limit of faith and, in doing so, had located the exact boundary of despair. It was at that moment that he learned, truly, to fear God.' Is this an adequate summary of the path the character of Emilio takes? (4) Why were Emilio's hands cut? Is there a metaphor to be found in this act? (5) Russell is a trained, multi-disciplined scientist and uses areas of knowledge in The Sparrow that aren't normally considered the domain of SF (such as anthropology, geology, economics etc). Has this changed your opinion of what the Science in 'Science Fiction' can mean? (6) The Sparrow is, in many ways, a traditional First Contact novel. In what ways does it differ to other similiar books? (7) Personally, I find the characters in The Sparrow incredibly believable and endearing. Do you agree that without her obvious skill at characterisation, Russell's novel would have been less successful? (8) Does the blunt language and portrayal of violence and sexuality jar with the more philosophical and spiritual aspects of the novel? (9) Can a non-religious person fully appreciate the novel? (10) Score the book out of 10!