Goodreads Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors discussion

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Writing and Publishing > Religion in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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message 1: by David (new)

David | 9 comments I was wondering if anyone has an opinion on the role of religion in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I think it is almost impossible to do any meaningful writing in this genre without there being some underlying religious theme or conflict. It may take the form of humanity replacing God as in some dystopian novels or it may be the conflict between science and religion.
In my novel, "Future Hope ITP Book One", the conflict is central to the plot, but it seems such conflict exists in every Sci-Fi/Fantasy story.
I'd like to hear any other thoughts on this subject.

David Gelber
Future Hope: Book 1 of the ITP Series


message 2: by Cleveland (new)

Cleveland | 10 comments Working with religion or Gpd in science fiction is always difficult but if the removal of fear is possible then it is not so bad.Fear of evil, fear of death. fear of the Devil, fear of the occult, fear of the unknown. Take your pick but when fear is eliminated God, etc isn't so bad. It is thinking about it all that makes it change.


message 3: by Darrin (new)

Darrin (lightkey) | 3 comments Hi David, Perhaps you'll find a lot of science fiction, by its very nature, connects to some kind of invented mythology. It's what makes the genre interesting and makes it function so well. Like you, I experienced it firsthand with my second book. Religion played an increased role as the story played out, eventually going in a direction I never anticipated. In the end I found I had to connect the book's mythology, to well-known religions, and the afterlife. Very rewarding as a writer.


message 4: by Charles (new)

Charles Lesher | 3 comments David wrote: "I was wondering if anyone has an opinion on the role of religion in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I think it is almost impossible to do any meaningful writing in this genre without there being some underlying re..."

My novel, Evolution's Child, takes on the subject of religion head on. It is set in 2092 in the Republic of Luna (the first nation to exist off Earth) I found in writing it that I could not ignore religion. I started writing about the people who will colonize space and the society they will create but religion began to take on a bigger and bigger role as the plot progressed. It didn't start out that way but it sure ended up there.


message 5: by David (new)

David Burton (davidhburton) David wrote: "I think it is almost impossible to do any meaningful writing in this genre without there being some underlying religious theme or conflict."

I agree. It is hard to do without it. Look at Tolkien. Even if it's not a central theme, it seems to be required as part of the world building. I quite enjoy it, actually, because I think it allows writers to be quite creative with it.


message 6: by Paul (last edited Mar 19, 2010 12:29PM) (new)

Paul Fantasy, seems , de riguer, to require a pantheon of gods that actually manifest themselves. Every society will have a religion or mythology that will have, in part, shaped that society.

Of course, in most cases, the religion will just be an ethical framework to which that society gives lip service. With the underlying guilt that comes from flouting society's 'laws'.

But yes, David, you have to have some moral underpinning for any believable ET world - whether fantasy or SF.

People, like it or not, always invent reasons for why they do the right things, 9 times out of 10.


message 7: by Curly (last edited Mar 19, 2010 05:04PM) (new)

Curly Raphino (inkwellmarvels) | 4 comments David wrote: "I was wondering if anyone has an opinion on the role of religion in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I think it is almost impossible to do any meaningful writing in this genre without there being some underlying religious theme or conflict."


In reading over some of the comments already posted, I'm not sure if the answer to the initial question was correctly addressed. I think religion plays a bigger role than one can imagine. First, the element of realms and dimensions in this genre reflects similarly to biblical realms, ie. Heaven/Hell and what lies in between, supernatural beings that exist inexplicably as Gods and the raging battle between good and evil, God vs. Lucifer, Angels vs. Demons. These elements can't help but shape the structure for Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

In my novel,Fire in the Ocean: A New TestamentI embrace religion head-on by combining Greek Mythology figures with the prominent players of Christianity to account for God's true intentions for creating mankind. I must admit the recipe used in the Holy Bible heavily influenced my story.


message 8: by David (new)

David | 9 comments Thanks fo all the comments. In my novel, Future Hope, the overlying theme is God vs. Satan, but set in the future where Satan dominates. The novel speculates on what the world will be like when man has become God as promised by Satan in the Garden of Eden.Science is Satan's tool, allowing him to control humanity.
A lot of the supernatural characters in Sci Fi/Fantasy probably could be represented by angels or demons, although these days it seems they are vampires. Plots seem to boil down to good vs. evil be it God and Satan, angels and demons, the dark side against the force or whatever. Still religion and some unseen power seems to be essential.


message 9: by Dennis (last edited Mar 21, 2010 01:19PM) (new)

Dennis Pennefather | 12 comments David wrote: "Thanks fo all the comments. In my novel, Future Hope, the overlying theme is God vs. Satan, but set in the future where Satan dominates. The novel speculates on what the world will be like when man..."

Succesful fiction of all genre including SF usually does allude at least to either conventional religion,or to other religions of a 'pagan' nature, even if it is on the simple level of 'goodies (believers) and 'baddies' (non believers).
I think it is the different use of the mix which made 'The Da Vincci Code' so popular as a 'must read'.
In 'The Understanding' there is the emergence of a new religion, 'Uneversal Humanism' which not only makes the Christian religions obsolete, but casts their practitioners as definitely 'the bad guys'
Know any authors who have become the victims of a Christian 'fatwa'?


message 10: by Julia (new)

Julia | 7 comments Dennis,

A lot of writers have been challenged and/ or banned by Christians saying that the book's themes or situations conflicted with their religions.

Judy Blume Are You There God, It's Me Margaret.
John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath
J.K. Rowling Harry Potter books.
Chris Crutcher Whale Talk
Walter Dean Myers Fallen Angels
Nancy Garden The Year They Burned the Books

Those are the ones off the top of my head. There are many more.


message 11: by Dennis (last edited Mar 23, 2010 02:17PM) (new)

Dennis Pennefather | 12 comments Julia wrote: "Dennis,

A lot of writers have been challenged and/ or banned by Christians saying that the book's themes or situations conflicted with their religions.

Judy Blume Are You There God, It's Me ..."


Hi Julia...Thanks for your input..I have no doubt about the flack I will cop from Christians if my book 'The Understanding' becomes widely read..I think when serious writers and poets are inspired to write, they take their 'minor acts of bravery' for granted when they know that they may come up against religious dogma. Of course many Christians shake their heads sadly when they see other powerful religions bringing pressure to bear on writers (including cartoonists). Such pressure may even include death. However,as someone on one of these links commented, even Christianity itself should avoid critising the splinter marring the vision of others, while ignoring the log in their own.
In my book, I did not seek to offend Christians, but merely to ignore their influence as to what I can and cannot write.


message 12: by Cliff (last edited Apr 01, 2010 01:15PM) (new)

Cliff Scovell (CMScovell) | 16 comments David wrote: "I was wondering if anyone has an opinion on the role of religion in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I think it is almost impossible to do any meaningful writing in this genre without there being some underlying re..."

I think religion will always be a part of any society, because there will always be people looking for simple explanations to the unknown. In my own novel, Prison Earth, the alien species live thousands of years longer than we do, but their society still supports the many religions of the different alien species. Though not religious myself, I could not imagine a society without it, unless they are all totally logical robots.

As far as worrying about offending Christians, just writing science fiction will offend some of them. (And not just Christians.) However, you'll might also note that with such books as Harry Potter and even Dan Brown's creations, religious protests actually helped sales.

Write on!!!
Clifford M. Scovell
www.prison-earth.com


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Cmscovell wrote: "David wrote: "I was wondering if anyone has an opinion on the role of religion in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I think it is almost impossible to do any meaningful writing in this genre without there being some..."


message 14: by [deleted user] (last edited May 10, 2010 07:29PM) (new)

Thanks for the comment. I asked that question earlier, because my co-author,Grace, is worried about how our book will be recieved. I had asked questions on Answers about our concepts relating to standards of religious beliefs.{I did not say that I was resarching for a book.} I got a lot of negative responces from certain religous groups. I even got reported for abuse; but I appealed and got reinstated, because my simple questions were not abusive or against the rules. They just made some angry.
My feeling goes along with your statement about controversy selling books. Look at the Da Vinci Code.It caused a big stir. Every body at my church was talking about it and they all seemed to run out and buy a copy to see what points that they disagreed with the author about.
I sure hope that religious ideas are acceptable in the Urban Fantacy Genre. Malika


message 15: by Sue (last edited May 21, 2010 08:58PM) (new)

Sue Bowling (sueannbowling) | 19 comments A quote from my book, Homecoming:
"The GoodNews cluster was settled--long before I was born--by a number of groups that wanted to practice their own beliefs without interference from outsiders. They joined the Confederation as a group, so the Confederation has no right to interfere in their internal affairs... I am not against religion. I have my own, and Marna and I share a great many of our beliefs. But 'I believe' shades into 'I know,' and there is a very fine line between 'I know' and 'anyone who does not acknowledge what I know to be true is either a demon or an idiot, or inspired by one.' That's what's happened to the GoodNews cluster."
Homecoming by Sue Ann Bowling


message 16: by J.m. (new)

J.m. (groovywriter) | 4 comments Julia wrote: "Dennis,

A lot of writers have been challenged and/ or banned by Christians saying that the book's themes or situations conflicted with their religions.

Judy Blume Are You There God, It's Me ..."


I'm kind of hoping that my book gets banned by some religious organization or another. It's not like I didn't try.

Click here to go to Smashwords and download now. Pay what you want or download free
The sequel isn't free, but is more than worth the price for lovers of high concept fiction. Thank you!


message 17: by Cliff (new)

Cliff Scovell (CMScovell) | 16 comments I was wondering what people are doing to get the word out about their books. I work with a small publisher, and am getting only minimal support in this area. I have the usual web site, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account, but none of this is generating sales.

What have others been doing? I'm not afraid to spend some money on an advertising campaign, but there are so many options out there, I'd have to be a billionaire to try even a small number of them.

What's working, and just as important, what isn't?

Cliff Scovell
Prison Earth - Not Guilty as Charged
www.prison-earth.com


message 18: by Ciara (new)

Ciara | 14 comments Hi Cliff, I was trying to read through all the comments to get a gist for things but I'd like to address "the word out" question. I write sci-fi futuristic romance and my first for my small publisher was a best seller. I started out on discussion loops similar to this one about 6 months before the book came out and somehow generated a bit of a buzz. Now, that seems harder to do and I think it's because the market has exploded with new authors and talent. However, if this is your first book, sales will probably be slow. While you're waiting, write that second book. If a reader does read your story and falls in love, he/she will want to find your back list. I'm doing much better now that I have more books to my name.

Second, I've been attending a few localized Sci-Fi Conventions with a nudge from fellow writers, Kerry Tolan and Todd Hunter. If you can get started early enough, the smaller cons are pretty good about letting smaller press authors get onto panels. Go to libraries, donate a book and offer to host a talk to patrons. Word of mouth is your best friend.


message 19: by Gwendolyn (new)

Gwendolyn (drgwen) | 36 comments Cliff;

You might ask your locally owned and operated INDIE bookstore to carry your book. If you're near a college, community college or university, ask their campus bookstore(s) to carry it.

The chain stores (Borders, B&N,etc...) all have a 'Local Authors' or 'Of Local Interest' section, and you can ask them to carry it. Once they do, it's in their system.

Then, offer to do a reading/signing and/or volunteer to attend one of their 'new books and authors' nights... B&N has events like this.

Donate to libraries.. oops, I'm duplicating Ciara. Donate copies to school libraries (if the book is appropriate for the age levels involved.)

We've also, to good effect 'placed' books in the waiting rooms of local physicians and dentists.

You can send a copy to your friends (both near and in far away places). If they like it, ask them to promote it.

Attend 'local' (up to 150 miles away) book fairs.

Encourage those who like your book to give you a good review and report on Amazon.

Last, but certainly not least, you can let your local newspaper know about your book. They'll usually run a story in their arts & entertainment section.

As to cost... Everything I've listed here requires time, effort... and a few books.

It may not get you on the NY Times list, but it's a start.


message 20: by Cliff (new)

Cliff Scovell (CMScovell) | 16 comments Ciara & Gwendolyn,

Thanks for your valuable input. I am continuing to approach bookstores for readings, as well as Author's Booths in county fairs and sci-fi conventions, though I hadn't thought of getting on a panel. I'm getting resistance, as well as outright rejections from the chain stores in my area, even though my book is a finalist in the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Someone else mentioned getting a book into the local libraries, and that ours has a adult storytime program. I'm going to send them a short story and ask if I can read it in one of their sessions.

I've already written the second book in the series and am 3/4 through the third, but my writing time is being taken over by my promotional efforts.

This has been my dream since childhood, so I am not giving up.

Thank you again for the feedback.

Cliff


message 21: by Ciara (new)

Ciara | 14 comments You might consider approaching some of the smaller town libraries. I just did an "event" to help the library raise money. It was for a small town of about 5,000 inhabitants, but in the small towns everyone knows everyone and they all come out for things like this. Anyway, the librarians did the work, they sold tickets for a dinner and play. The play was based on a scene from one of my other books (not the sci-fi) and I was basically the guest star. Lots of fun. I sold quite a few books afterwards.

If you have a Hastings in your neck of the woods, they are more open to booksignings from local authors that are pubbed with smaller presses.


message 22: by M. (new)

M. Pax (mpax) | 2 comments Cliff wrote: "Ciara & Gwendolyn,

Thanks for your valuable input. I am continuing to approach bookstores for readings, as well as Author's Booths in county fairs and sci-fi conventions, though I hadn't thought o..."


An author in my writing association uses local businesses such as grocery stores, etc ... to do book signings and sell. He does very well. Make friends with the managers of places. Go with the intent of fostering a relationship. Local farmers market? Maybe you could sell/ do signings there. Coffee shops? Bars? Restaurants? Friends who know managers / owners? Ask them to introduce you.

Go meet the managers of the bookstores. Let them get to know you. Local book clubs and writers groups are other opportunities.


message 23: by Brendan (new)

Brendan Carroll (brendancarroll) | 26 comments Julia wrote: "Dennis,

A lot of writers have been challenged and/ or banned by Christians saying that the book's themes or situations conflicted with their religions.

Judy Blume Are You There God, It's Me ..."


I would be honored to have my books banned by the Church. Religion and the practice/non-practice of the traditional Christian faith, the problems of extreme Islam, the age old conflicts between pagans and Christians and other mainstream religions are all addressed in the series at some point or another as I have tried to bring them all together in a sort of Unified Theory of the Absurdity of Elite Religiosity and replace it with the practice of thinking that the human race is nothing other than one huge dysfunctional family fighting with itself without any one good reason. Since my series is rather long, these subjects are slowly brought out as the characters face numerous trials and tribulations stemming from religious differences in the world as well as human folly, love, hate and all those other wonderful things that make us all what we are.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001J6ORUI


message 24: by Kim (last edited Jul 13, 2010 06:53PM) (new)

Kim (kimdkus) | 10 comments OOO!! Mr. David, interesting that you would ask that!! I use religion in my novel, THE PRINCE'S SECRET. It's a fantasy YA novel that has a chritian under flow, like LOTR, and I use God almost as a character. I also have a secular religion similar to Druids. I also have a bad guy who is a demon. I just used my christian beliefs and put them into the story.

David wrote: "I was wondering if anyone has an opinion on the role of religion in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I think it is almost impossible to do any meaningful writing in this genre without there being some underlying re..."


message 25: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimdkus) | 10 comments If you get your books banned, then it only intriges folks to read it. It can be a good thing.

Brendan wrote: "Julia wrote: "Dennis,

A lot of writers have been challenged and/ or banned by Christians saying that the book's themes or situations conflicted with their religions.

Judy Blume Are You There..."



message 26: by William (new)

William | 2 comments David wrote: "I was wondering if anyone has an opinion on the role of religion in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I think it is almost impossible to do any meaningful writing in this genre without there being some underlying re..."

Hi, David. I incorporate Christian themes into my fantasy series. You might want to check it out:

William_D_Burt
The King of the Trees
Torsils in Time
The Golden Wood
The Greenstones
The Downs
Kyleah's Mirrors
The Birthing Tree

Have fun!


message 27: by Adam (new)

Adam Bender (adambender) | 9 comments Science fiction is a good genre for making a point about religion, but I don't think the two are inextricably interwined. Sci fi to me is just a great platform for drawing metaphors. It could be religion or it could be terrorism, environmentalism, global warming, etc.

My own novel We, The Watched does get into religion, but it's more about people in power exploiting their citizens' religious beliefs in order to control them, as opposed to questioning the existence of God or anything like that.


message 28: by Joe (new)

Joe Vadalma (JoeVadalma) | 25 comments Since religion plays such a large role in our world, it seems inevitable that it would be at least alluded to in SF. Also the stories that are in the mythology of every religion make good material for SF and fantasy. I derived a lot of material for one of my Morgaine series, Morgaine and Armageddon, from the Book of Revelation in the Christian bible.


message 29: by John (last edited Aug 22, 2010 09:40AM) (new)

John Hartness | 1 comments Interesting. I struggle with how to even categorize my novel, The Chosen. I use biblical characters (Adam, Eve, Cain, Lucypher, Michael) in a contemporary setting with today's problems and plenty of contemporary flaws. I could certainly see some uber-religious types taking exception with my portrayal of Eve as a New Orleans stripper, for example.

But is it fantasy? Since I have immortal characters in a modern world, I think it is. There's the whole "save the world" problem on top of several millenia of distrust, so I think it's fantasy, but I've run into trouble describing the book to people because their eyes go all funny when I get into the fact that my main characters also happen to be the main characters of Genesis. Sorry, Moses.

The Chosen by John G. Hartness


message 30: by K.C. (new)

K.C. May Religion is often the basis of a society's morality and belief system -- what keeps people behaving well. Theoretically, the threat of punishment in the mortal life isn't always enough, but the threat of punishment for eternity will make people think. In modern day USA, for instance, even that's not enough. :P Is it possible to instill a sense of morality for its own sake? Maybe. But I think that human nature being what it is requires more.

It'd be interesting to see if one could create a society whose members upheld its moral code without any sort of threat of punishment for disobedience. Would it be believable?


message 31: by Larry (last edited Sep 04, 2010 08:37AM) (new)

Larry | 17 comments I think the question is whether or not you can have great conflict without a moral structure to support it on, now as authors are products of their society you frame it within the context of religion, morality and religion overlap but are not the same.

I see authors here who put things into the framework of their religious beliefs an honored tradition in writing and those who challenge religious beliefs or religiosity, another time honored tradition.

Bottom line it is a conflict of value systems or the values held within them that is the conflict, and in fantasy and sci-fi you can create a number of variations or leave other belief systems too alien to comprehend.

At that you don't need religion per se, that to me is basically your personal value system coming out in your writing.

I hope that's clear, kind of rambling.

Oh, and I don't think you need religion to have morality or have a what we would consider moral values, I don't need to be religious to think that murder is bad though I might so I don't covet my neighbors ass. (the four footed kind).


message 32: by Keiji (new)

Keiji Miashin Personal opinion here but I think religion, or addressing of religion, is almost a must in some instances.

There are no places in our world were religion doesn't play some part in a persons life and/or history. Thus religion is a good means of helping a reader relate to the characters and draw parallels between the familiar of reality and the unfamiliar world of fantasy/sci-fi. And because it is so prevalent it is something that a reader will quickly jump to questioning if it's not addressed.

And to be clear I'm speaking of knowledge of religion for readers, not necessarily a belief. Not everyone in the world is religious but they know what religion is.


message 33: by Dennis (last edited Sep 05, 2010 07:37PM) (new)

Dennis Pennefather | 12 comments K.C. wrote: "Religion is often the basis of a society's morality and belief system -- what keeps people behaving well. Theoretically, the threat of punishment in the mortal life isn't always enough, but the thr..."
My book 'The Understanding' tends to show that when a greater 'cosmic'understanding is confered upon humanity through the cloning process, the previously accepted mainstream religions once again become overtly immoral in their desperation to retain their power over the masses.
While conventional religions, no matter how widely followed, have a huge element of 'faith'because of the impossibility of producing a physical manifestation of the truth of their doctrines, in 'TU' (aka 'The Jump-Clones) the Clones stand to be able to prove their religion (Universal Humanism), by undertaking a 'dimension jump'.
It is easy to understand how mainstream religions, faced with proof positive of how their doctrines are in error and their scriptures misaplied, would be completely 'unholy' in their desperation to endure.
My book would have been a very less potent and interesting work than it is, were it not for the dynamic of conflicting religious beliefs..SF aside this same timeless religious adversity as well as having been responsible for most of the wars in our history, has also been responsible for the 'flashing forward' of our scientific technical achievement and accompanying philosophies, resulting from those wars.
So yes, religious adversity and diversity are necessary in both good SF and life's progression itself. Dennis Pennefather


message 34: by Keiji (new)

Keiji Miashin How does making a 'dimension jump' disprove the faith of anyone?

If there's one thing I've found is that no matter how far science progresses faith, both religious and paranormal, will exist. Because not every person in the world will have even a semi-complete understanding of its scientific workings. In fact, the common person doesn't care, and why should they.

People will have faiths and beliefs no matter how hard you try to educate them because that's in human nature. We look for patterns in the world around us, and religion is the most popular and all inclusive pattern that we have ever created.


message 35: by Dennis (last edited Sep 05, 2010 09:32PM) (new)

Dennis Pennefather | 12 comments Keiji wrote: "How does making a 'dimension jump' disprove the faith of anyone?

If there's one thing I've found is that no matter how far science progresses faith, both religious and paranormal, will exist. Beca..."

Keiji, It appears that you may have misinterpreted this thread which is discuss the importance of religion as it applies to SF and Fantasy.
I would not try and sell you a copy of my book, but please accept that in the plot of 'The Understanding' a dimension jump will prove the 'multiple universe' cosmology of the Clones, totally disproving the 'creationist' theory of how the universe of our perspective came to be.
The storyline allows that the religious 'zealots' make war upon the Clones knowing that if the dimension jump is made, the powerbase which is their religion is totally lost of credibility.
I will be the first to admit that within the fiction of my book, there is much to make the reader consider real issues relating to religions as they exist in the real world today.
The book's concept of the erstwhile religious 'good guys' becoming fanatical brutal war mongers, capable of many dispicable practices to maintain their power bases and credibility is not too unlikely given the history of repression, torture and warfare, that mainstream religions have indulged in over the past couple of thousand years. Dennis.


message 36: by Keiji (last edited Sep 06, 2010 12:04AM) (new)

Keiji Miashin I fail to see how my inquiry was irrelevant? The 'importance of religion as it applies to SF and Fantasy' is obviously going to be impacted by how religion and its believers are going to be portrayed in said works.

Perhaps it was a bit unfair to randomly question your book out of the others tossed about here so I shall go back to making general comments.

I dislike how in the majority of modern Science Fiction religion is portrayed as antiquated, wrong, disproved, and/or unnecessary, if not downright evil. :(


message 37: by Dennis (last edited Sep 06, 2010 01:59AM) (new)

Dennis Pennefather | 12 comments Keiji wrote: "I fail to see how my inquiry was irrelevant? The 'importance of religion as it applies to SF and Fantasy' is obviously going to be impacted by how religion and its believers are going to be portray..."
Keiji, I am not saying that your enquiry is irrelivent, just suggesting that you appear to be defending religion against an 'attack' by SF and Fantasy writers, rather than adressing the question of this link, which is, by implication, 'What is the role of religion in the storylines of those genre?'
It is not primarily the question as to whether what is fundamentally right, science or religion, so much as how important to the dynamic of SF/Fantasy storylines is the religion factor (whether that religion be a factual existing one, or merely a fictional one within the storyline..)
We only have to look back in history, to justify portraying some acts perpetrated in the name of some religions, as evil...so it is difficult to villify any unnamed religion in fiction beyond how it may have been exposed in fact by recorded history.

You have every right to dislike how religions might be portrayed by SF writers.


message 38: by Keiji (new)

Keiji Miashin Err, how am I defending anything? Other than myself, of course, in the following comment.

I asked one question based on a description of your book because I was curious about your thinking. I then showed my background reasoning for asking such a question.

In my next comment I decided to leave our discussion be and instead made a general statement to something your book reminded me of. That statement was more based on the fact that the dynamic of 'religion bad' has grown predictable and I was rather bored with the concept. Admittedly this part I probably should have explained instead of just saying something without context.

And now we are most certainly quite a ways off topic. So allow me to address the vilification of religion to bring things back on track.

I agree, some of the most terrible actions in the world were undertaken in the name of religion. But I think that there is a big difference between 'in the name of' and 'because of.' The more I research the subject the more I find that religion is usually a guise thrown up by politics to make themselves and their actions look more favorable to their people.

Examples: Knights are running around Europe with nothing to do and making a mess of things and the Royals of Europe are growing more difficult to control. The Catholic's solution, of course, was to start up the Crusades. Keeps the knights and nobles occupied as well as winning nice amounts of money and land for the Church. Win/win.

Or how about the Knights Templar? They practically became the backbone of European economics after the crusades. They were functioning as a literal bank system in fact, lending out credit and loans, transporting wealth, and keeping valuables in safe storage for others. Too bad the royals and even the rest of the church built up such huge debts that they'd never be able to pay off. Thus the church and royalty threw the inquisition at the Knights. And thanks to the inquisitorial process all the wealth and land the Knights had accumulated automatically became the property of the church.

I think one of the major reasons I'm dissatisfied with religion as the bad guy in SF books (other than that the concept has become common and boring) is the fact that usually the complex relationship between religion and politics is completely tossed aside. There is so much potential in addressing this connection in writing. So much room to create rich complex characters that it just annoys me when a huge body of people is 'evil' simply because of their faith.


message 39: by Larry (new)

Larry | 17 comments I do agree with Kejii in one sense, religion is a framework to pose questions or put conflict or storyline within a framework everyone pretty much on the face of the earth can relate to in one way or another. Religion permeates our culture and is something everyone can connect to if not in belief but in familiarity.

Now I have read a lot of science fiction over many years and I don't feel like religion is a typical bad guy in the genre, depends on the author more often than not and even then I don't think many use that plot device.

On the original question of what role religion should or should not play in the genre, well to me that depends on the plot, it comes down to the characters motives and how the different parts of their psychology drives their actions, some plots the action is external then you are talking about how they react, or how the society reacts, you can posit a religious element or not.


message 40: by Dennis (last edited Sep 06, 2010 08:51PM) (new)

Dennis Pennefather | 12 comments Larry wrote: "I do agree with Kejii in one sense, religion is a framework to pose questions or put conflict or storyline within a framework everyone pretty much on the face of the earth can relate to in one way ..."
I agree with Kejii and you Larry.
Having now taken a few deep breaths,I see that having taken a few subjective knocks locally, ("You're evil! How can anyone make the Christians to be the bad guys, when everyone knows that they personify everything good in the universe?") I was probably looking for something in the comments that I expected to see but where not in fact there...If that is in fact what has transpired, then I apologise.
I think that there is little dissagreement that religion either directly or indirectly is at the core of much human conflict and whether it is written about in fiction or factual terms, because it is such a part of the human dynamic it will always appear in every genre. I doubt that it is acceptable to any writer in todays literary world to be told that they cannot use religion in any fictional storyline.
If Keiji is saying that a religion cannot be damned, because some practitioners depart from the 'true practice' outlined in their religions scriptures, then I feel that there is unlikely any contra view to that.


message 41: by Keiji (new)

Keiji Miashin Oh! The 'true practice' comment made me think of something.

Does anyone know of any SF or Fantasy books where people of the same religion but different 'beliefs' of that religion have a conflict. Real world example being Protestants/Catholics?

I haven't read one of those and now I'm curious.


message 42: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 97 comments Chiming in a bit late on this thread, but I have a post from my own blog that might be relevant.

http://authorguy.wordpress.com/2010/0...

As for schismatic plots, the only ones that pop into my head immediately are some of the Deryni books by Katherine Kurtz.


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

It has been my experience that when anyone gets in far over their head, "God, please help me!" is what they first utter. To divorce God from any particularly nasty situations (unless the person has been raised in a godless believing society)would be utter nonsense. As the old military saying goes, "there are no atheists in a foxhole." And that's the God's truth.


message 44: by Keiji (last edited Sep 20, 2010 02:38PM) (new)

Keiji Miashin In reference to the 'God, please help me!' line.

Should an author draw a distinction in that line? A person might curse and say such lines because that's what's standard for their culture. Does that change a person's or character's standing on whether their religious or not when they are quite expressively atheistic at other times?

What equivalent but non-religious alternatives exist for a character to say in dismay when caught in a 'foxhole?'


message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

When for the first time on your first tour of duty you have mortor shells exploding all around you in a horrific barrage, your character won't be cursing ... but scared to death ... like I was and the rest of my buddies. Ask any veteran if you don't believe it.


message 46: by Keiji (last edited Sep 20, 2010 11:32AM) (new)

Keiji Miashin I'm aware of that. It was another example to add to your own.

And some people do respond to fear with cursing like there ain't no tomorrow, because there might not be. Like my father.

Also, your comment upsets me. For one, you failed to address any of the discussion points I brought forward. And if we're going to be throwing around 'credentials-of-why-my-statement-is-more-right-than-yours' my father is also a veteran. In a war of genocide where he was fighting on the hunted/minority side. Against two different armies, both of which wanted to see our people dead. I was too young to grasp the majority of the conflict but I sure as hell remember his cursing when we were hiding in the basement with bomb shells going off outside. And as far as I can gather, his cursing only got worse once me and my mom evacuated and he joined the army. So if you think your veteran experience is the only kind of, and way of handling, experience out there and somehow endows you with some kind of unique and superior knowledge. Stuff it, this isn't a pissing contest and if you try to make it one you'll find there's always someone that can go higher than you.


message 47: by Larry (new)

Larry | 17 comments I actually came across an interesting article on one of the science websites about a psychologist studying the idea that belief in in supreme being or supernatural forces is wired into our brains. Even an athiest can have feelings of belief despite their intellectual outlook on the subject.

So put into context that we are all raised in societies where belief in the supernatural is present whether deist or powers unseen I cannot be suprised that any actual human being would react with a religious outcry to extraordinary events. And again as writers generally reflect the society they grew up in that their characters would be the same.

On shisms, the closer you are to another group the harsher the struggles to remain seperate.


message 48: by Keiji (new)

Keiji Miashin That is true... And I think I've read a similar article. But if what these psychologists say is true, is it even possible for us as authors to portray an authentic atheist society? Is this hard-wiring something we, or our human characters can overcome?

That conflict's probably been covered in a few books already but it is an interesting thought and plot to consider.


message 49: by Larry (new)

Larry | 17 comments Atheism can exist in a society especially if religious feelings are seen as a physical event understood by the science of the society.

The idea is the feelings may be hard wired but we are a mix of feelings and rational understanding and depending on our upbringing and development one or the other may predominate or exist with one or the other coming to the fore. Even the most brilliant scientists are not above crying over the loss of a loved one no matter what their understanding of life is death may be.


message 50: by Dennis (last edited Sep 20, 2010 01:41PM) (new)

Dennis Pennefather | 12 comments Richard wrote: "It has been my experience that when anyone gets in far over their head, "God, please help me!" is what they first utter. To divorce God from any particularly nasty situations (unless the person has..."

From a writing point of view, some of the examples like that of Richard, do show that in times of terror, in desperation, or in 'faith', those in peril will call upon a deity or any other form of 'deliverance'.
If they came from a society which saw Mickey Mouse as they ultimate saviour, they would call upon him for deliverance, if they believed their lives were about to end.
It often speaks more of desperation and appealing to any possible saviour than a deep rooted faith.

Remember the pleadings of Wonder Woman in extreme situations? 'Hera help me!'

In some desperate or life ending situations, many simply call for their mothers.


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