Louise Marley's powerfully edifying science fiction thriller pits a woman priest against a transnational corporation bent on using an idyllic oceanic planet as an energy-producing power park -- and determined to exploit a group of extraordinary children from a lost colony.
Mother Isabel Burke is a member of the Priestly Order of Mary Magdalene, a struggling order of celibate female priests devoted to the search for truth in all things. After an "incident" on the supposedly uninhabited planet of Virimund, where hydro-workers stumbled across a small colony of human children and accidentally killed one, Isabel is assigned as the guardian of a wounded child captured and inexplicably taken to Earth for alleged research. The child, named Oa, has been the unwilling subject of callous corporation-employed doctors who have kept her imprisoned for over a year. When Isabel meets Oa, she vows to somehow free the girl and return her to her homeworld.
But Oa, it seems, isn't a child at all; she is centuries old and has somehow found a way to exist without aging -- and the corporate researchers will do anything to find out her potentially lucrative secret.
Like Marley's other novels (The Terrorists of Irustan, The Maquisarde, et al.), The Child Goddess is a passionate and deeply spiritual story powered by her adept characterization. Like a master sculptor, Marley crafts realistic, three-dimensional characters that readers can't help but empathize with. If the famed Trappist monk and poet Thomas Merton ever wrote science fiction, it would read like a Louise Marley novel. Paul Goat Allen