THE SACRED AND THE PROFANE
“The Scared and the Profane” written by Dean Motter and illustrated by Ken Steacy first appeared in Star Reach issue 9, June 1977 and finished in issue 13, August 1978. In Star Reach issue 14, August 1978 there was a short story of another mission. The book version appeared in 1987.
The story begins in the fifth year of the deep space expedition of the “St Catherine” Mission when it encounters a living alien object. The mission which is composed of both ecclesiastical and lay crew members, was launched by the Roman Catholic Church as a missionary effort after a signal from space indicated there is intelligent life within the Andromeda Galaxy.
The Mission’s attempt to contact this life form is answered by an apparently violent act. Before an assessment of possible damage can be made “Joshua” Captain of the “Legion of Purification” and an ex-Navy pilot perceives this as a “Holy War” and launches an attack of his own against the orders of Arch-Bishop Franklin, the leader of the expedition. It is significant that in the early stages of planning the mission, it was argued whether or not it required a defense force. It was decided to organize one the “Legion of Purification”, as it turns out a fatal decision. After this defense force is sent out on an ill-advised additional attack on the alien, the alien or parts of it infiltrate the ship. The story then relates the conflict which emerges among inhabitants of the ship until it reaches a climax when “Joshua” has deluded himself into believing he is the “Salvation” of the expedition and murders Arch-Bishop Franklin. The “Cardinal” confronted with one of the aliens or a portion of the alien self-destructs himself and the ship. Only Sister Marianna, whose diary entries describing her own reactions to the events occurring, and Joan another woman escape in a casket module which in the last panels drifts into the heart of the alien still drifts in space as a whole being.
An important aspect of this story is that, as one of the characters points out, the alien object or objects never kills any of the ship’s inhabitants. They are killed by their own fears and actions they take against each other. In addition, the alien is never identified. Is Motter implying that the individuals of the “St. Catherine Mission” actually encountered God who for all their professed faith they failed to recognize?
Content novel & Cover dust jacket wraparound:
The Sacred & The Profane, Writ., Dean Motter. Illus., Ken Steacy. Eclipse Books, 1987.
PERIODICAL GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY:
Star Reach, 9, June 1977 to Star Reach, 14, Aug.1978: “The Sacred and the Profane.” Writ., Dean Motter. Illus., Ken Steacy.
Illus., Ken Steacy. The Sacred & The Profane, 1987: Dust jacket wrap around.