Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A Spiritual Spectrum

We encounter not only alternative histories but also alternative metaphysics:

in Poul Anderson's fantasies, gods are real;

in Anderson's hard sf, as in our experience, supernatural beings are believed in by some though not by others and theological issues are addressed;

in SM Stirling's Angrezi Raj, Christian and Hindu theologies are synthesized and offerings are made to a fictional goddess created for a cinema film (so what is the status of "belief"?);

in CS Lewis' uniquely theological sf -

- hnau are rational animals like Terrestrials, three Martian species and Venerians;
eldila are immortal inorganic intelligences inhabiting space, not planets, and resembling beams of light;
Maleldil is a mysterious being who:

created the universe;
commands all eldila except the rebels confined to the Terrestrial atmosphere;
was born as a hnau in Thulcandra (Earth);
speaks to Elwin Ransom when the latter is in Perelandra (Venus).

To summarize:

pagan deities as a fictional premise;
deities believed to exist by some, i.e., our experience;
a fiction-faith blend;
Christianity imaginatively restated.


David Birr said...

"...offerings are made to a fictional goddess created for a cinema film (so what is the status of "belief"?)"

An apparently true anecdote, put to pen by Nury Vittachi, from the late 1990s:
"You know how weddings are often held in traditional Chinese settings for unwed dead people, ghosts, spirits, and so on? Well, a college in Taiwan has just held a multiple wedding ceremony to appease four sets of unfulfilled lovers 'from mythology' ... [including] Jack and Rose from the James Cameron movie *Titanic*."

Truth is AT LEAST as strange as fiction.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

Oh, boy! Even S.M. Stirling would be hard put to top THAT! (Smiles)