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Amph Religion in SF/Fantasy

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Books and Comics' started by Katana_Geldar, Dec 21, 2008.

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  1. Katana_Geldar

    Katana_Geldar Jedi Grand Master star 8

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    Mar 3, 2003
    I was just thinking of this recently when discussing the Ender series with a few people and it's rather interesting how science fiction and fantasy can comment on religion. But does it even have a place? Can it go too far so you don't enjoy the story anymore?

    Here's a look at religion through several series:

    Ender, rather intolerant of other religions which changes from an accepting sort of universal faith to a "ram down your throats" preachiness.

    Inheritance, rather atheistic to the point where other characters (particularly Arya) make fun of religious people. And of course, we're meant to accept thei POV unquestioningly.

    Karen Miller's Godspeaker, perhaps the most interesting take. She shows quite a few different religions, one is defintely wrong (it involves killing lots of people and in blood) yet as to the "right" one she gives a few options, of one which is absurdly like the Catholic church.

    Narnia, the only religion that has ANY organised worhsip in Narnia is the cult of Tash in Calormen. I think he's a Satan sort of figure to oppose Aslan, but that's debatable.

    Hardly anything at all, though I have heard that in Gondor they worshipped Sauron once upon a time.

    Anything else to add anyone? And what is your opinion on this?
     
  2. LAJ_FETT

    LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Lucasfilm Ltd Mod star 9 Staff Member Administrator

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    May 25, 2002
    Don't forget the Dune series. Religion just permeates those books - from the Bene Gesserit to Muad'Dib to the sandworms and spice. (Not to mention the Butlerian Jihad and the Orange Catholic Bible). I don't think you can go much longer than a page or two without encountering a religious reference, at least in Dune itself. (I won't take all the sequels and prequels into account since some are still in my reading pile).
     
  3. Katana_Geldar

    Katana_Geldar Jedi Grand Master star 8

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    Mar 3, 2003
    I haven't read Dune so I can't comment on them.
     
  4. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Jul 20, 2002
    I don't think one cn give an opinion on religion in SFF in general because there are jusdt too many books and they all treat it differently. Do you want to maybe run a one-series-at-a-time discussion on it?
     
  5. JediTrilobite

    JediTrilobite Jedi Master star 7

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    Nov 17, 1999
    A Canticle for Leibowitz is a fantastic read.
     
  6. Katana_Geldar

    Katana_Geldar Jedi Grand Master star 8

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    Mar 3, 2003
    Not a bad idea, NYC, we can make a list.

    Ender
    Inheritance
    Godspeaker
    Narnia
    Tolkien
    Dune


    Feel free to add what you want to discuss.
     
  7. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Jul 20, 2002
    I'd put Katherine Kutrz's Deryni series up there, but I'm not sure anyone else has read it.
     
  8. TheModFavorite

    TheModFavorite Jedi Master star 4

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    Sep 14, 2007
    seconded.
     
  9. emilsson

    emilsson Jedi Grand Master star 6

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    Oct 5, 1998
    May I ask for a clarification: is the topic about how fantasy and scifi represent religious organisations (like the church) or how authors use religious symbolism in their works?

    I would like to suggest His Dark Materials and Brandon Sanderson's Elantris.
     
  10. Katana_Geldar

    Katana_Geldar Jedi Grand Master star 8

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    Mar 3, 2003
    More how religion is represented in SF fantasy, sometimes this is the authors comment on religion but though a vehicle of a novel.

    Ender
    Inheritance
    Godspeaker
    Narnia
    Tolkien
    Dune
    A Canticle for Leibowitz
    Deryni
    His Dark Materials
    Elantris


     
  11. Arwen Sith

    Arwen Sith Jedi Master star 4

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    May 30, 2005
    Oh yes, commenting on religion or less organized beliefs definitely has a place in fantasy and science-fiction. I'm not particularly keen on books that get too preachy with it, however.

    On the hard SF side, books like Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land is a case in point... Groundbreaking when it was released, but too preachy for me to enjoy.
     
  12. BobaMatt

    BobaMatt TFN EU Staff star 7 VIP

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    Aug 19, 2002
    Of course, the Chronicles are inherently religious...

    Don't forget Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time books, particularly that one and Many Waters.
     
  13. Qui-Gon_Reborn

    Qui-Gon_Reborn Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Dec 11, 2008
    Sure, it permeates, but the nice thing is that it's not oppressive. It's sort of mythological rather than of any definitive faith.
     
  14. Elori

    Elori Jedi Padawan star 4

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    Mar 18, 2002
    Mormon authors (Orson Scott Card, Brandon Sanderson, Stephenie Meyer) tend to put religion or religious issues into their novels.

    I've only read the Ender and Bean Quartet's, and as the Ender Saga has already been mentioned, as has Elantris (Sanderson), I'd add Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy in there as well.

    I mention Meyer because she puts religious morals into her books that isn't exactly proselytizing, but is colored by my knowledge that she's Mormon. This is obvious in things such as the "no sex before marriage" rule (not specific just to Mormons), as well as the discussions Edward and Bella have on the ability to enter heaven without a soul, or whether or not Edward even has a soul.
     
  15. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Jul 20, 2002
    Having just finished the second Mistborn book, the only thing I picked up on was that Elend and Vin weren't sleeping together before they got married. Other than that, there were things about the religions and faith, but they seemed like it was just the usual, nothing specifically because Sanderson's LDS. Can you give some non-third-book examples?
     
  16. Elori

    Elori Jedi Padawan star 4

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    Mar 18, 2002
    I didn't say he put LDS issues into his book. I said he just wrote religion and religious issues into his book. The whole trilogy revolves around a prophecy arisen from a religion.. not to mention Sazed's search for the religion of his people.
     
  17. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Jul 20, 2002
    By bad. and yeah, that's a big part of the trilogy.
     
  18. Elori

    Elori Jedi Padawan star 4

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    Mar 18, 2002
    The end of the trilogy was really, really good... I know you're not there yet, but I totally didn't see it coming and thought it was so good!
     
  19. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Jul 20, 2002
    I'm going to try to finish it tomorrow. I'm excited now :D
     
  20. Dawud786

    Dawud786 Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Dec 28, 2006
    I wouldn't say that's true at all. The Fremen engage in ritual, and Paul participates. The very culture of the Fremen is a religious culture.

    Besides, mythology is part and parcel of religion. There's an unfortunate tendancy of the modern vernacular to equate "myth" with "untrue" when that is not necessarily the case. It's also not how myth is used in a scholarly context.
     
  21. DRHJ9

    DRHJ9 Jedi Master star 4

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    May 19, 2003
    Dont forget about Greg Keyes and His Kingdom of Thorn and Bone series...

    The Church in that series is a representation of the Catholic Church in my Opinion, for better or worse.

    I think Keyes was not too subtle in his comparison.
     
  22. Qui-Gon_Reborn

    Qui-Gon_Reborn Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Dec 11, 2008
    Ritual does not dictate that religion -- namely, worship -- is present.
     
  23. Raven

    Raven Administrator Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Oct 5, 1998
    The Host by Stephanie Meyer is a straight-out retelling of the story of Jesus. She's rounded off some edges, and sharpened others, but by and large the story runs along identical rails. Having said that: I wouldn't consider her a religious author, rather she's an author who happens to be religious.

    Her Twilight books surprised me that way. For example, take the issue of abortion. I know that some have taken Breaking Dawn as an anti-abortion metaphor, and I see where they're coming from. Having said that, the majority of the characters in the story (Bella and Rose being the exceptions) were in favor of Bella having an abortion. Both male leads initially wanted Bella to have an abortion. Edward only changed his mind when he could hear his daughters thoughts - and I think that his position matches fairly well with the position of most pro-choice people, that it's only a choice until the baby is capable of thought, and then it's a person too. Even from Bella's perspective, there's nothing, no single line that indicates she herself is pro-life. She might very well be, but even in her internal monolog there's nothing that indicates she took her position out of religious or ethical beliefs, not even a hint. So, Bella herself may be pro-choice. Who knows? The book certainly doesn't tell us.

    In the Mistborn series, I don't really think that there's anything that says "Hi, I'm written by a member of the LDS Church." There is an element of no sex before marriage, but that's definitely not uncommon regardless of faith. Heck, I'm agnostic, and that's a belief I have.
     
  24. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Jul 20, 2002
    That is actually the first time I've run across the no-sex-before-marriage belief in someone not-religious, so that part jumped out at me as being a product of his religious background (especially since he made a point of making it clear that they weren't sleeping together rather than leaving it ambiguous). But other than that, I agree; there are themes of religion in the trilogy (with Sazed, especially) but nothing that is specifically an Earth religion.
     
  25. Elori

    Elori Jedi Padawan star 4

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    Mar 18, 2002
    I never said Meyer or Sanderson put LDS-specific issues into their novels, just that religion (read that as it's meant to be read: religion, non-specific, the presence of a religion either made up or extant in the reader's world) and religious issues (issues that aren't necessarily religious, but that can be read as religious tend to show up in their works.

    Twilight especially caught my eye (probably because it's the one I paid the most attention to as the first in the series) with a couple of things I remember off the top of my head:

    no sex before marriage (can be seen as religious)
    Edward talking about whether or not he has a soul and what this means for Heaven (they talk at length about this at one point)

    Let me say, I did not know Meyer was LDS when I started reading the book. I looked this information up after I read her book because, being raised Catholic, I was sensitive to sniffing out certain things. When I found out she was Mormon, I just thought it was interesting.

    Now, as for Brandon Sanderson and Orson Scott Card... In Card's Ender series, one of the things brought to the new world of the pequeninos (sp?) is religion. The pioneers then create a religious institution which features heavily in the books that deal with that world (may have only been one, I read them a long time ago). So that is a religion.

    Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy, without revealing the ending, has religion in it, too. Sazed is continually searching through thousands of religions in order to find the religion of his people. After the death of err--I forgot his name, the big male lead in book one, a religion develops with devotion to The Survivor or, that guy I can't remember the name of.

    So what I say is, these authors, that happen to be Mormon, write about religion (that may not be their own) and I find that interesting. :)

    So yeah, they do tend to write about religion.

    And if you're just trying to connect the word "religion" to LDS because I singled out LDS authors, please don't. I certainly didn't mean to just cite LDS authors, they're just the first that came to mind.
     
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