July 4, 2010

SLICE OF PIE: Another Layer of Latent…

I’ve written a number of times about C. S. Lewis’ quote regarding Christian writers creating works in which their beliefs are latent rather than blatant:

http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2008/01/flashicle-4-writing-longer-short.html , http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2010/03/possibly-irritating-essays-latent.html , http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2010/02/pie-dragons-and-christians-and.html , http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2007/09/christianity-disappears-in-space-ii.html ,

http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2009/07/slice-of-pie-why-do-we-need-christian.html (Until this moment, I didn’t realize just HOW many times I’d written on the subject!)

At any rate, today it occurred to me abruptly that any philosophy might be promulgated in this way. In fact, several writers whose work I enjoy immensely and whom I respect use the methodology of injecting their specific belief systems into their writing without “preaching”. Few writers do more than latently promote their ideology; though some do so more blatantly. In fact, Christian writers who try to write science fiction and fantasy and other speculative fiction “with a message”, might learn a thing or two from writers who simply allow their beliefs to permeate their work.

The examples below are single phrases in much larger novels and while they pitch a particular philosophical viewpoint, they don’t hammer the belief, either.

Frank Herbert, DUNE: “When law and duty are one, united by religion, you never become fully conscious, fully aware of yourself. You are always a little less than an individual.” – from “Muad’Dib: The Ninety-Nine Wonders of the Universe” by Princess Irulan (p 408)

Anne McCaffrey, DRAGONSDAWN: “‘We may not be religious in the archaic meaning of the word, but it makes good sense to give worker and beast one day’s rest,’ Emily stated in the second of the mass meetings. ‘The old Judean Bible used by some of the old religious sects on Earth contained a great many commonsensical suggestions for an agricultural society, and some moral and ethical traditions which are worthy of retention, she held up her hand, smiling benignly – ‘but without any hint of fanatic adherence. We left that back on Earth along with war!’” (p 112)

Lois McMaster Bujold, BARRAYAR: “The two shall be made one flesh. How literal that ancient pious mouthing had turned out to be.” (p 474)

Carl Sagan, CONTACT: “But imagine that your kind of god – omnipotent, omniscient, compassionate – really wanted to leave a record for future generations, to make his existence unmistakable to, say, the remote descendants of Moses. It’s easy, trivial. Just a few enigmatic phrases, and some fierce commandments that they be passed on unchanged…Such as ‘The Sun is a star.’” (p 136)

Jack McDevitt, ODYSSEY: “‘It can be a major loss, Mac,’ [Valya] said, finally. ‘There are times when you need to be able to believe in a higher power, or you can’t make it through.’…[Mac replied], ‘Maybe. But the notion that we need a higher power, that’s more a human failing than a reflection of reality. The universe pays no attention to what we need. Truth is what it is, and the inconveniences it might cause us don’t change anything.’” (p 203)

David Weber, OFF ARMAGEDDON REEF: (I’ve commented on his work at length here: http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2008/08/slice-of-pie-by-schism-rent-asunder.html )

So, if you’re a Christian who is writing a speculative fiction novel, learn from the masters – only a few phrases can share your faith and get the Word into the hearts and minds of unbelievers who might be seeking life in Christ without even knowing it.

image: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_JxjlVoK6fS4/SsLLjeVSZbI/AAAAAAAAADA/LhNt_cTjFzw/s320/Hubble_1995_Pillars_of_Creation.jpg

1 comment:

Mike Duran said...

Lewis' thoughts on latency fits well in the current discussions (like those at io9) about Christians demanding more sci-fi. Thanks, Guy!