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I read this book between ten and fifteen years ago, probably more towards fifteen years ago. The book was older. I have no real idea on how old but if I would have to guess I would say it was written in the late 70s up to the 90s somewhere.

I got it from my local library (in Europe). It was a pocket novel and I would say it had around 300 pages, but that is a rough guess. I remember reading through it in the span of a school week.

I think I read it in English, but could also have been a Dutch translation. I don't remember the title and I only have a vague memory of the cover being red or orange in color.

I remember very little about story or setting. The main character was male. He came to a planet by space ship, the story likely started with his arrival in the space port. The planet was not Earth. I don't recall what he was there for, but I vaguely remember them knowing somebody on the planet, or at least having to go out and look for somebody.

(Not 100% sure about this part.) The space port was the only one on the whole planet. The city near it had a tech level that seemed to be on par with the rest of the human empire/ interstellar community, but the rest of the planet was not evenly technological. It gave me the same vibe as Firefly. Pastoral aside of few high tech cities. The color of the cover and the mood that I remember makes me think the planet was covered in dry biomes, but not a desert planet.

The only thing that I remember well is that a fictional religion was shown in the book. I am pretty sure it was called Sa'Tong (or something similar like SahThong or Sa Thong).

The religion had five pillars. I forgot the specifics of them but it came down to this: People come to realize that God is imagined by people. So the source of God is people. So people are God. So you should treat others with the same respect as you would treat God.

I have been trying to find this book again over the years but my search skills when it comes to literature are lacking.

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  • twitter.com/SongbirdN7/status/1670248007877402625 - "Religion is just a word. Hearts are rarely pure, but equally are they rarely impure either. To me, God is people, and people are God, so we must all do what we can. Don't worry so much about your heart. The actions will lead, and the heart follows."
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 19 at 11:41

1 Answer 1

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I believe this is probably Coyote Destiny (2010) by Allen Steele, the fifth book in his "Coyote" series.

"Sa'Tong" is a belief system adopted from the alien hjadd:

The chaaz'braan didn't reply for a moment, but instead gazed at the black-marble floor. Tell me, please... what is the First Codicil of Sa'Tong?

"I am God, for God is a creation of the self."

What is the Second Codicil?

"Since I am God, then so is everyone else, and therefore I must treat all others as manifestations of God, with the same reverence and respect as I would give to myself."

The Third Codicil

"In order to adhere to the Second Codicil, one must never take any actions that will harm myself or others."

The Fourth Codicil

"One must never fail to take action that will prevent harm to myself or others."

The Fifth Codicil

"Wrongful acts must be atoned for with righteous acts of equal or greater proportion."

The cover is green, not red-orange, though the cover of the previous book in the series Coyote Horizon was orange.

The mix of technology levels fits too, since the colony has a spaceport and a FTL "starbridge" back to Earth (46ly away), but at the same time there is still a "steam sledge" used to reach other settlements.

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    This is it! I knew as soon as I read the title. But the word Codicil makes me certain. it was a word that I had never heard before back then. How did you find this in ten minutes, amazing!
    – Robin
    Commented Apr 19 at 11:57
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    @Robin Up until the mid-2000s I read all of Steele's books, and then when Coyote Horizon and Coyote Destiny came out I picked them up too. Didn't really engage with them fully, but the bit about the aliens was more interesting and apparently stuck with me.
    – DavidW
    Commented Apr 19 at 12:00

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