I know it sounds weird, but Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather is indeed about nuns in space. It portrays the lives of the sisters of the Order of Saint Rita as they navigate among the stars on their mission of mercy.

So far I have enjoyed every single Tor novella I picked up, and this one is no exception. While the nuns’ initial mission was to spread the Catholic faith, their main focus has become answering calls for help, healing and blessing people. Although it is about a convent, there is not too much of a religious backdrop. At first it is a little difficult to differentiate between the sisters, but after a short while they evolve into a very diverse and interesting cast of characters. Even their Reverend Mother has something up her sleeve.

The plot itself revolves around what happens when the sisters answer a distress call from a recently visited colony. The sisters prove to be tough, intelligent and capable of making hard decisions to help others.

A really interesting aspect of the story is the convent’s ship, Our Lady of Impossible Constellations. In this version of the future, ships are living, breathing organisms bred for the different requirements of space travel and trade. I wondered how it wold be to live inside one of those ships, always hearing a faint heartbeat wherever you go.

It is always impressive when an author manages to build such an interesting world in the form of a novella. I would love to read more set in the same universe.