Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Call it serendipity or just a coincidence.  Yesterday, anyway, we took a brief look at robot grudges that might bimagese remembered if/when they take over.  But what do we do if, rather than killing us, they’re content just to steal our jobs from us?  Enter ex-writers group friend from way back Ron Collins, via Facebook, and on his wall via THE GUARDIAN.COM, “The Meaning of Life in a World Without Work” by Yuval Noah Harari.  I’m not sure I agree with it all 100 percent myself, but the piece does bring up some interesting concepts.  And, for the science fiction writers among us especially, a possibly interesting view of the future by pressing here.

THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS (see January 19, 16) is the one about mankind’s relationship with its gods, sometimes sweet, sometimes sour.  Or maybe for our purposes here, most often sour.  My song in this sin fest is a poem this time, a “story in verse” about a dead boy named Little Willie called “Tit for Tat” (originally published in GHOSTS:  REVENGE, 2015).  And now with publication due soon, Adrian Ludens, whose story “Hero Worship” will be in the book as well, has shared its contents list from publisher A Murder of Storytellers, along with this flattering comment about three of its contributors:

Some very talented authors lined up for this anthology.  Especially excited to see Joseph Shelton, John Biggs and James Dorr included.  Never been disappointed by any of their stories.  Can’t wait to read this!

and from the publisher:

Just a few more days.  To tide you over until then, here’s the TOC for THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS.

A Hole in the Head Reveals the Secret Nature of All Things by Joseph Shelton
Sack Race To The River by Chris Kuriata
Holy Fire by Tracy Fahey
The Order of the Night Moose by Jonathan Raab
Hare Hill by Kristin J. Cooperblasphemouswords
The Holy Filth by Tom Breen
Madness by Morrison
Hero Worship by Adrian Ludens
An Adventure in Wootton by Colin Harker
Meant to Be by Kelly Gould
Outer Darkness by Grant Skelton
The Damned by Jake Teeny
Kill Fee by Victor H. Rodriguez
The Blue Ruin of Vicar Junípero, the Throat of Heaven by Rhoads Brazos
Grume by Tim Meyer
The Unearthed Thing by Ben Larned
Tit for Tat by James Dorr
Bust to Dust by Wesley Southard
Hiding from the Rain by Mark L. Groves
The Sign by John Biggs
A Demanding Religion by Darrel Duckworth
The Hunted by Shannon Iwanski
Killing the First Gods by Morgan Crooks
Our Pale Lady Clad In Red by 瓦砾卡夫卡
A Bloody Miracle by Anusha VR
Insiliconation by Eric Reitan
The Annunciation of Josie by Jack Burgos
The Edifice by Lorraine Scheln
Angels are so Beautiful Until They Rust by Jason Howell

There are some things one cannot resist.  One example, an anthology titled THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS, a weird fiction, horror, and speculative fiction anthology about humanity’s relationship with its gods.  When we answer the call for salvation from the bondage of the material — when we believe in gods — we reach a hand into the unknown and risk losing it to something peckish.  When we forget the power of the hearth, we risk a conflagration that can return civilization to the dirt from whence it came.  Brave words those, and so I answered, the guidelines calling for stories, not 13245380_1039385802818613_30970547213403742_npoems, with a 32-line “story in verse” called “Tit for Tat.”

Originally published in James Ward Kirk’s GHOSTS:  REVENGE anthology (see March 29, March 17, February 16 2015), “Tit for Tat” is a poem “of a type sometimes known as ‘Little Willies,’ about a naughty boy who either causes or comes to grief, resulting in the poet reacting with either glee, gross indifference, or sometimes drawing from it a tragically inappropriate moral” (Feb 16).  And today the response came from Adrean Messmer for publisher A Murder of Storytellers:  Thank you for sending us “Tit for Tat”.  We all sat around a table and gushed about this story for a while.  We would love to include it in BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS.

Details followed, including a contract (to go back to them this afternoon), with a bio, etc., the usual things, between now and Friday, with a tentative publication date to be on or before January 31.

. . . the idea of faith is more general in the sense that it covers any devotion to a higher being or spiritual power.  It could be anything, from a religion-based god to alien overlords to the Force.  The point is that you believe in something outside yourself that, in some way, shapes, influences, or even controls the nature of our world.  Yet somehow, regardless of the faith, the path to getting there is always the same:  you have to hear the call, and then yoarrival_movie_posteru have to take conscious steps to overcome that adversity within and without to reach its source, taking you from a non-believer to a believer.

Well, no, I haven’t seen ARRIVAL yet, I tend to wait sometimes for what I think may be important films to be out long enough on DVD to bring the price down to buy for myself, but that’s my problem.  The above, from “Communication and Faith in ARRIVAL”  by Michael Moreci, on TOR.COM a day or two back, piqued my interest however (cf. below, for instance, November 3, August 26 ; September 17 2015):  the question of faith, belief, in science fiction as well as, perhaps to be more expected, in fantasy and horror.  The need for an author — or reader — to know a people’s traditions in order to build their world.

Or that’s how I see it.  Moreci also brings up Joseph Campbell (the hero’s journey), and the movies STAR WARS:  A NEW HOPE and CONTACT; while in my own writings I might note the upcoming TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH as well as, at least in part, THE TEARS OF ISIS.  And in any event I may look into ARRIVAL myself sooner than I had expected.  Moreci’s critique, on the other hand, may be read right now here.

Of all the genres, science fiction and fantasy are the ones where humans can tackle their deepest societal problems and thought experiments. Because of this, it’s a natural place for people to explore ideas about religion, faith, and the meaning of life. . .  So begins Leah Schnelbach’s “19 Positive Approaches to Religion in Sci-Fi and Fantasy” on TOR.COM, brought via today’s post-Halloween email.  I thought it would be interesting to look at some examples of books and short stories that have tackled re[SCM]actwin,1352,0,3288,736;Blogger: Adventures of a Grad Student - Edit post - Google Chrome chrome 9/12/2013 , 11:39:59 PMligious questions in respectful and positive ways, she continues and, yes, “The Nine Billion Names of God,” a short story by Arthur C. Clarke is included, as is his “The Star.”  Also there are Roger Zelazny with LORD OF LIGHT, A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ by Walter M. Miller, a couple of shorts by Ray Bradbury. . . .  Well, and many others, some of which I’ve never heard of myself but may now consider looking into.

But why religion?  That is, isn’t science fiction (at least) in some way opposed to that?  Maybe, maybe not, but I would suggest that even if not on the surface, the people in a future — or a fantastic — society will still have some unexplained beliefs, that rely on faith.  Perhaps it’s just custom, the way things are done, but for example (and yes, this is a plug, my novel-in-stories due out next year cf. October 31, et many al., and some stories in my other books as well) in my TOMBS stories there’s an implicit belief in the existence of souls, of some kind of life after death — there’s even some description of the nature of souls, how they themselves are made up of parts, and how souls of lovers might be later reunited.  Or in horror in general, if one accepts vampires or ghosts or other supernatural beings, again a subtext of belief is implied, whether in formal or informal terms.  So call it world building — or adding texture.  But even if not overt in a story, religious assumptions may lurk in the background.

And of course, in some, they may be in the foreground, for more on which (and don’t forget to scroll through the comments too) press here.

Yes, that’s right, the origin of everything with today’s discovery via the internet by Edira Putri, “The Weirdest Creation Myths from Religions Around the World” on RANKER.COM, with bringing-to-my-attention credit going to Gene Stewart.  So getting right to it (to quote Ms. Putri):  Some people turn to scientific efforts to explain why and how the universe is the way it is.  shinto-the-islands-were-created-from-sacred-sexual-intercourse-photo-u1Others prefer transcendental beings, gods, or rituals.  Aside from being spiritual, the cultures that birthed these weird religious creation myths were also highly creative.  Who would have thought butter could form the world?  How did you link the origin of existence with extraterrestrial realms?  How could creation stories link us to monsters, giants, even bugs?

These weird creation myths around the world, promoted by religions, may be easier to pass on and to learn than scientific theories, and only seem truly bizarre when held in relief against modern scientific knowledge.  Basically, we think we know better now.  But do we?

There are fourteen myths recounted in all, some ancient, some more modern, which can be seen here (I’m partial to number 3 myself).  Which one is your favorite?

The curator tried to solve the mystery.  Of her flesh’s coolness.  “The soul,” he explained, “is a complex thing, a thing of more than a single aspect.  Its z’etoile, over all — its ‘star of guidance’ — in some ways determines its other parts’ workings.  Its will, its psyche, those things that make it unique, that is, the person whose soul it is part of.  For the body, also, is part of a person.   

    ”Its animus, that which inhabits the flesh and gives to it motion.  And halts its corruption.  These are other portions as well, all held together in delicate balance.  When one is living, held, too, with the body.” 

    ”And when one is dead?” a listener questioned.

    ”And when one dies, that balance is broken.  A ‘glue,’ if you like, has released its hold on these parts, letting all go their ways — some all at once, some lingering for some time.  Some leaving, perhaps, never, as in those cases the Ancients called ‘hauntings’ in legends that have come down over the ages.  Yet this is no ghost-soul — “

(From “The Ice Maiden,” THE TEARS OF ISIS, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, 2013)

In my “Tombs” series of shared-universe, far-future stories of which “The Ice Maiden” is an example, I have yet to depict an actual full-blown religion, with ceremonies, temples, etc., but I have had characters often relate to a set of shared beliefs in spiritual matters — of what is the soul made?  what becomes of one after death?  etc. — from which a religion might be constructed.  Other descriptions come up, e.g., in “The Walking” and “There Was an Old Man” in my DARKER LOVES:  TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET, as well as “Raising the Dead,” published this spring in the White Cat Publications anthology AIRSHIPS & AUTOMATONS.  Thus in “The Ice Maiden” the title character’s z’etoile, for instance, has placed her into a sort of stasis, body and soulimages, until her fated lover, Caldera, arrives to join her even if thousands of years too late.

Not all of these stories hinge on these beliefs, as the three I cite do, but they’re still in the background, a part of the (hopefully) rich, complex setting that becomes the common theme of the series.  So, too, any horror story that includes characters existing after their Earthly deaths — zombies, ghosts, vampires — also implies a set of beliefs which, even if not a part of the foreground, suggests a society in which religion or spirituality plays a role in the way people think.

So why bring this up?  As it happens, today’s email included a piece by Michael W. Clune on “Five Books About Imaginary Religions,”on TOR.COM, in which it is noted:  Speculative fiction writers can’t look away.  If technology represents humanity’s transcendence through reason, religion implies its eternal submission to mystical entities. . . .  [O]ften anti-science, they attract charlatans, they prey on ignorance — and yet there’s usually a kernel of real mystery at their heart, and the workings of the religion are often the coolest things about a book.  Perhaps it’s no surprise.  After all, sci-fi and fantasy writers create entire worlds; many of them feel that no imaginary world would be complete without an imaginary religion.

And so, in the spirit of Monday’s entry on economics just below, about something else I think is important to be aware of in a story’s background, one may (or not, as one’s taste dictates) click here.  But if so, be sure to read the comments too for other titles beyond the first five.




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