The OF Blog: Here's something to ponder tonight/today/whenever

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Here's something to ponder tonight/today/whenever

With all the talk recently about including more females, other-gendered, LGBTs, and PoCs in speculative fiction, what would a themed anthology look like if it contained stories that reflected a particular religious point of view? Would a Catholic-influenced or a Taoist-influenced (for example) group of stories contain any essential differences in outlook from say a Protestant fundamentalist or atheistic-influenced stories?

I know this might sound like a silly question, but when one stops and considers how one's attitudes toward the tenets of particular religious faiths often informs elements of their political and social views, I wonder how much (if any) and in what ways (if any) such viewpoints might influence a writer's story generation and crafting. Or for that matter, how much it might affect a reader's perceptions of what constitutes a "good" or "bad" story.



Camilla said...

Were you thinking an anthology in which authors were grouped according to their religious views (there does seem to be rather a lot of Mormon specfic writers)? Or according to the influences that can be traced in their writing (say, Zelazny's Lord of Light in one on hinduism/buddhism)?

tim said...

I think there would be a radical difference. I mean, the first question would be something along the lines of 'do the tropes and styles of science fiction even matter in a signficantly meaningful way to the particular group?' We assume that OUR future is generally THE future, but what if space ships, aliens, flying cars, hovering skateboards do not constitute a valid future?
Not every culture considers technology to be the measure of progress or civility. This, I think, owes a particular debt to the very specific beliefs and histories of the Christian West. Through colonial expansion and its diffusion of ideas and values, our particular brand of technology has achieved a sort of global ubiquity, but that should not be taken to mean it is the only way of doing modernity or the future.

Was it on Matt Cheney's blog where he posted some very interesting essays on Africa and science fiction? Those sort of suggest some of the problems when thinking about the construction of anthologies based on ontologies and valuational structures which differ from what we more or less think of as nominally 'our own.'

Jonathan said...

There is an anthology of Jewish related science fiction, Wandering Stars. I'd be interested in a review by a non Jew as to whether the anthology is of general interest.

Eric said...

See I always wanted to do a Jewish speculative fiction anthology, with a lot of different viewpoints (Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi, Ethiopian, etc.), but I'm not sure how to go about finding a publisher, actually creating a book from a bunch of online Microsoft word submissions, or any of that stuff.

Charles said...

It depends. Are they writing to a specific theme? (i.e. there must be a Taoist element in the story) If so yes.

Is it an anthology that happens to be filled with -insert religion here- writers? Then there's probably more serendipity going on and theoretically a broader subject matter covered.

Yes, religion is an important paradigm, just as politic beliefs (i.e. why people hail 1984 and Animal Farm) do.

Cavillator said...

I think that would make at least as much sense as a cultural anthology. I'm not entirely sure how much difference there would be between, say, an Episcopalian writer's work and a Methodist's, or even really between a Protestant's and a Catholic's (let's not touch LEFT BEHIND), but I think a "Christian Anthology" or a "Muslim Anthology" (dunno how much you'd have to work with there) would be fascinating.

dacole said...

Gene Wolfs works are incredibly different and I think a lot of that does come from his catholic belifs. I am not sure that Ursula LeQuin has ever stated her religous or political belifs but many (myself included) have always found her work to be very taoist and it is certinly very differnt than much sci-fi much more emphasis on relationships almost none on technology and much more emphasis on trying to change things almost always making things worse (a very taoist belif I don't share)

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