A gnome, who has been held as prisoner for years on Antares IV, turns out to have created Earth. The gnome has three visitors: Father Chavez, Sister Guinivere and the politician Benedict Compton, who plans an overthrow on Earth by setting himself up as God with the gnome's help--but his enemies know this plan. The gnome reveals a time is coming when he will be reunited via hive mind with his people and he will create other creations. Chavez questions the gnome about a supreme being...
...and the gnome is unaware of any. Benedict is caught and fried along with the gnome "co-conspirator". Chavez is given an instant to spare the gnome's life but does not. He cannot think. But since the gnome should have access to the supreme being and did not Chavez doubts. He decides to get everyone on Earth in touch with their godhood.
The gnome's death and his last profession of love for his creation are potent, moving. Like Sister Guinivere, you want Chavez to act, but he does not.
Does Chavez not act to kill the gnome indirectly, subconsciously--either for the death of God or for the creation of other creatures? The text does not say.
His intellectual leap is a long one, from Christianity to ubiquitous godhood--not that it couldn't happen, but he'd need a lot of time to realign his former thinking. More likely it would happen if Chavez had doubted previously, which would make sense for his going to visit the gnome in the first place, although I'd think the church would send someone with especially strong faith to confront the gnome creationist.
A) There are three Heathen gods:
- The gnome
- Benedict Compton--at least he desires to be
- Father Chavez desires to create all men into one
B) Earth's creator is a gnome--smaller than expected.
C) Lots of thought fodder, which is Zebrowski's forté. Notably, this is one of Zebrowski's first works.