Book Review: Numb by John W Otte


Way back in the dark ages – 2006 – when I first started blogging, there was a distinct lack of Christian science fiction available, at least in the way I defined those things at the time. That situation has improved slightly over the years, and the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour has brought a few works to my attention that suit my taste, but even so what I really want to read is a good story with a Christian message and a few awesome spaceships. Is that too much to ask?

Well, not any more, because with Numb, John Otte has delivered just that. And, despite my perhaps unfairly high expectations, done rather a good job of it too.

Numb is the story of Crusader, an otherwise anonymous assassin, whose God-given gift of numbness – an inability to feel either physical pain or emotion – makes him the ideal person to exercise God’s wrath on whatever heretic or unbeliever his superiors decide are most deserving of judgement.

The story is set in an ostensibly black and white universe, in which the religious Ministrix, for whom Crusader does the dirty work, and the more atheistic Praesidium are the two dominant (and obviously feuding) forces. Hidden between and among these two superpowers, however, are shades of grey – heretics, not welcome in either place – and it is one such heretic, Isolda Westin, who turns Crusader’s life upside down when she is made his next target.

For reasons initially unknown to Crusader, Isolda seems to bypass his divine numbness, triggering new feelings, and when she shows him that God is not the self-righteous bully the Ministrix has made Him out to be, he begins to dount his calling…

And, yes, there is a pan-galactic quest, on spaceships with tunnel drives and similar science fictiony goodness.

But it’s Crusader’s personal quest – save the girl, or save his soul? – that drives the story and gives us a means to explore this universe.

The exploration of Crusader’s numbness reflects the complexity of human emotions in a way that will probably strike a different nerve with every reader; an aspect that struck me was when Crusader is told:

Not everyone is warm. Not everyone is emotional. Do you suppose I experience many ‘warm fuzzy’ moments with God? But that doesn’t matter. Our relationship with God isn’t a matter of how we feel toward Him but how He feels toward us.

I should add that the story is far from preachy; Crusader’s discovery of who God is and who he, Crusader, really is unfold as part of the story, and conversations he has with ‘heretics’ – members of the true Church – bring these things out naturally.

I could say more – it’s that sort of book, one that provokes deeper thought and conversations, expresses truths through story and leaves them in the readers mind for later consideration. And that, I think, is what I have always wanted from Christian science fiction.

Well, that and spaceships.

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4 Responses to Book Review: Numb by John W Otte

  1. Hey, Steve, so happy we could actually feature a book with spaceships! And doubly happy that it met your high standards. Yea! A real win.

    I agree that there’s much to think about with this story.


  2. Pingback: CSFF Blog Tour – Numb by John Otte | A Christian Worldview of Fiction

  3. Have to say this was definitely a good book and it does inspire conversation and thought!

  4. John W. Otte says:

    Hey, Steve! Thank you so much for your kind words! And I’m glad that the story stirred up so many thoughts for you. And, naturally, I’m glad I could bring you some spaceships. 🙂

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