Child of Destiny Blog Tour: Guest Post

On Sci-Fi: The Question of Religion

A guest post by Dr. George H. Elder

I know few Sci-Fi devotees who like the idea of shoving religious beliefs down the throats of readers, either covertly or overtly. Indeed, Sci-Fi is often used as an escape from such travails. Yet there are several examples of stories that have strong religious overtones, such as Dune and For I am a Joyous People. Even in Sci-Fi comedy cartoons we find the Robot Devil character in Futurama. The 50s are replete with numerous Sci-Fi morality tales with religious themes (e.g., The Nine Billion Names of God, The Last Question, The Reformers, Childhood’s End, Immortality, Inc., etc.). In contemporary times we have The Accidental Time Machine, Escape from Hell, Nothing Sacred, and many more. Religion and Sci-Fi are often conjoined for better or worse, and have been for many generations.

When writing Genesis, I thought religion a worthy area to explore—although not dwell on. For example, Kara is from a religious society with a strong idea of what God is and fairly advanced metaphysical concepts considering their stone-age technology. She is a Labateen, a tribe which views itself as God’s only chosen people. They are a rule-bound people who adhere to a religion that views physical and intellectual perfection as the ideal and the rule of the strong as only natural. Thus beating or killing someone who slights you is perfectly acceptable and being born with a birth defect warrants instant death. As for Kara, she firmly believes God has destined her to do great things, despite being an outcast.

Kara learns and experiences much during her adventures. Eventually she discovers her people are a manufactured species and her personal history is nothing more than a plaything of an advanced species. She is left adrift—without any guiding purpose or reason for being. She hates herself and the concept of God—whom she wishes to kill. It was a fascinating exercise to develop this descent into hopelessness, for being so reduced allowed a subsequent elevation that makes us care for Kara all the more.

As for the crew members who have taken Kara aboard their time/space craft, Anita has a strong belief in the “Great Maker,” but her guiding principles are a set of rigid moral values that go beyond religion. For example, she would rather die than harm another, and believes she has no right to live if her deeds or misdeeds cause the direct or indirect death of another. These beliefs are incompatible with Kara’s, and the two have a profound impact on each other’s views.

Ezra believes in his family above all else, and yearns to be back with his wife and children. They are his moral and ethical center, and function as a belief system in their own right. Ezra’s physical condition declines as the story progresses and his yearning to return to kith and kin increases. However, his inherent fear and reluctance to act wanes. He becomes a leader of sorts, and puts Anita, Ral, and Kara in their places when the need arises.

Ral is an artificial intelligence that finds religions interesting, but he does not subscribe to them. He finds the beliefs and views of most biological beings defective in one way or another, but in the end he falls in love. He even sacrifices himself to achieve an altruistic end, albeit an act that will come back to haunt the entire crew.

In a greater sense, the entire story revolves around the issue of being versus non-being, which allows us to examine the themes fundamental of all beliefs: is there life after death and what is the purpose of our existence? I will not claim to provide any definitive answers, but I believe the reader may come up with some ideas that go well beyond those stated in the texts. For example, it is implied throughout the text that adhering to strong beliefs and ideals in the face of circumstances that vitiate them is dubious. Conversely, beliefs form a large part of what we are, and when we lose them—we also lose part of ourselves.

Indeed, the title Genesis is what the story revolves around; although it certainly differs from the Biblical account in many respects. The accounts concerning God, destiny, free will, and many other issues stray from standard conceptualizations, and I hope they invite exploration on many levels.

SYNOPSIS

Child of Destiny (The Genesis Continuum trilogy #1) by Dr. George H. Elder

The universe is nearing its inevitable end, everything is being rapidly devoured. The last hope of a dying universe is to awaken the Seeker, a legendary metaphysical being known only through ancient tales. The Seeker has the capacity to link the entire universe; they alone may be able to spark the rebirth of the universe.

Many of those that remain desperately want existence to continue. As the remaining races struggle to survive and fight over saving existence, lofty ideals give way to brutal pragmatism. Missions are sent out in search of the Seeker. One such mission encounters Kara an outcast noblewoman of the Labateen, a Stone-Age warrior culture. Kara is well versed in the Seeker’s litany, beyond what would be considered coincidence –to Kara the litany is simply the ways of God. Will Kara be able to help locate the Seeker?

Those who wish the universe to end in disorder, with no more than a whimper are not willing to sit by as others race to alter the end universe. As these opposing forces mount their defenses, racing to see their goals are achieved one question stands out…

Is Kara the key?

Goodreads | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. George H. Elder has a Ph.D. from Penn State in Speech Communication and a Masters Degree in nonfiction Writing from UNH. He also has a very eclectic work and personal history. He has been a college teacher, custodian, upper-level scholar, drug addict, weight lifting coach, bouncer, and much more. He has authored numerous articles in the popular press and even a scientific text book that examines the neuropsychological basis of human communication. He has also addressed subjects such as philosophy, free speech, weight training, drug use, nutrient effects, street life, and a wide range of other issues.

His varied life experiences and education give him a unique and interesting perspective, and he often weaves philosophical insights and pathos into his texts. His books are action-oriented, but they do not have simplistic plots wherein good vs. evil or some other hackneyed approach is used. Instead, Elder employs plot shifts that allow the characters and readers to question the relationships we often take for granted. For example, a hero may do great wrongs while a species once perceived as malicious can be revealed to be honorable and wise. This offers refreshing and exciting perspectives for readers as they delve into Elder’s texts, for one never knows what to expect.

George’s Website

Clock Rewinders #1

It’s time for a new Sunday “meme” on Once Upon A Time and what better way to end the week than to share it with blogging friends? This one will be a little more fun than In My Mailbox, though I won’t be doing away with sharing my weekly hoard completely.

The Past Week at Once Upon A Time
Random Thoughts
  • My readers are awesome. You guys managed to bring me up out of the biggest reading and blogging slump I have had so far with your comments and I love you all to bits. Thanks to you, there will be changes around here.
  • Myself and Naithin are still working on honing this blog into something new and this week we took a look at “de-girling” the place. By that we mean just making it a little more gender neutral and I think what we have now is getting close to being spot on.
  • I got my tax rebate!! Must.. resist.. Amazon..
Around The Blogosphere

Whilst I’m damn awful at keeping up on my reader, once in a while something grabs my eye, and this past week..

  • Technically not this past week, but Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist posted a ‘What to read next…‘ and I really liked it.
  • It has come out this week that somebody has been a little naughty. Here is the original post. This topic has been done to death and yes I’m more than a little tired of the drama but plagiarism is never cool. MY two cents: if you’re against plagiarism, leave her be. Being so blatantly oppositional is just showing how much you care, sending her more traffic and it’s really time to move on.
  • How to Request a Digital Review Copy on Edelweiss. Because I know a few of us were darn confused.
  • It is Amanda’s blogoversary and she’s having a party! Go check out the festivities.
Something Cute and Fluffy

Yeah, what of it? I like cute. You like cute. What’s not to like?

WTFery

Search Terms

I don’t usually check my search terms because more often than not it’s full of unfunny, regular terms but let’s see..

  • book about homeless guy and a catA Street Cat Named Bob!
  • bout of books – Yes, do sign up here!!
  • fucking diet – I know, right?
  • hannah the hippo pygmy – *scowls*
Incoming

I had a fantastic bookish week! So much variety, just wish I could do a vlog. I’m really hoping to get hold of a webcam sometime in the next couple of months.

Books
For Review

I was actually a little surprised to receive The Immortal Rules after getting my author questions in late and the blog tour looming ever closer but it turned up.. right after I’d decided to give up on young adult fiction for the time being. Uh oh. I’m trying to like it, I swear. Though my initial response was, “Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games? It has VAMPIRES! It’s nothing LIKE The Hunger Games!! And it’s a fricking STICKER!! Arg!” Two things that drive me mad.. ha. And Dinner at Mine sounds hilarious, I can’t wait to get started on that one. It’s a kind of Come Dine With Me thing.. go have a look on Goodreads, I suck at explaining.
Gifted

The cat book! Yay! Dan snuck it in from Amazon and I loves it. *pets book* Want to read it nowww.
Charity Shop Finds

I needed a treasure hunt. Haven’t been on one in soo long and all of these were actually from the same charity shop. I felt pretty lucky!
Ebooks

I finally found Great Expectations free for the Kindle and Advent is from NetGalley.

Looking For An IMM Alternative?

Hey guys, just a quick one to let you know that the delectable Vicky is starting up her own alternative to In My Mailbox at her blog. So if you’d like to keep going with the meme but would rather an alternative, there it is. Click the button for more details. :)

I’m Guest Posting at On A Book Bender

Ooh, and I’m posting a few blogging tips today over at On A Book Bender for Amanda’s blogoversary. GO SEE!

Socialpunk Blog Tour: An Excerpt

Hey guys! Today I am posting my stop on the Socialpunk Blog Tour. Socialpunk (by Monica Leonelle) is a quick read at less than 300 pages and is a unique young adult dystopian cyberpunk which I am led to believe is well worth a read.

Blurb

Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.

Excerpt

Twelve cups of water sat on the table, four for each of them. Next to each cup sat a pill—yellow for fat, red for carbs, blue for protein, and green for vitamins.

Vaughn took the red pill, ripped it in half like a pack of sugar, and poured it into his cup. He set his cup into a contraption on the table and it whirled and hissed. When the machine finished, the cup had a pink, swirly liquid inside.

Nahum looked at the four cups in distaste.

“Not up to your standards?” Vaughn asked, shooting his drink. He swallowed the mixture in one large gulp. “I would get you something else, but we’re rebuilding our hash. We can’t afford real food, plus it’s bad for you anyway. Extremely difficult to maintain a balanced diet.”

“Synthetic food can’t cost that much,” Nahum countered. He grinned. “We had it in our little fake world, at least.”

Vaughn chuckled. “Synthetic food is even worse for you than real food. Shortens your life. We stopped eating that stuff at the turn of the century. It gave people long-term hyperactivity, which can kill you. LTH took out a lot of the population, kind of like cancer in your day, except a bigger deal because the population had dwindled so low already. Plus, people live indefinitely now.”

Nahum’s nose twitched as he laughed. “People don’t live indefinitely.”

But Vaughn looked genuinely surprised. “Of course we do. Have you seen anyone who looks over the age of twenty-five to you?”

“What does that mean, though?” Ima asked out of curiosity. “How could you live indefinitely? You may not look older, but you still age.”

Vaughn grinned. “Like I said before—there’s a lot you don’t understand about this world.”

The Author

Monica Leonelle is a well-known digital media strategist and the author of three novels. She blogs at Prose on Fire (http://proseonfire.com) and shares her writing and social media knowledge with other bloggers and authors through her Free Writer Toolkit (http://proseonfire.com/free-writer-toolkit).

The Contest


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Fantastical Intentions: Quotes

Fantastical Intentions is a feature featuring Hannah and Naithin of Once Upon A Time and Jacob of the fabulous fantasy-sf blog, Drying Ink. We intermittently host between us every now and then with a new fantasy related topic. If you’d like to join in, feel free to write a post of your own and leave your links in the comments or just leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you!

Hannah

When ‘quotes’ was mentioned as being the topic of choice for this week, I immediately went to my Goodreads liked quotes to find something because I have the worst memory. I came across a quote I’d forgotten:

“The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake.

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth.”
― George R.R. Martin

This one had me sitting here chanting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” And I really don’t think I need to say much else because this is a quote that really speaks for itself.

Naithin
“Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying ‘End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH’, the paint wouldn’t even have time to dry.”

I used to quite enthusiastically read Terry Pratchett back in the day, but there must be no less than a dozen books that I haven’t read yet by now. I really need to catch up, and it is exceptionally amusing quotes like this one which remind me of precisely why.

Picking one favourite quote amongst all the options however can’t be much less difficult than picking a favourite child. There were so many I wanted to go with, just from Terry Pratchett alone, let alone including all the other brilliant authors as well!

The reason I went with this one above all others is that not only is it rather quite amusing, but it is also managing to heap both praise and mockery upon human kind at the same time. Doing things, ‘just to see if they are possible’ has delivered us all sorts of advances over the years.

At the same time, I can very much imagine some fool doing something as silly as pressing the aforementioned button, ‘just to see’. People who do these sorts of things are probably the reason we have Darwin Awards. ;)

Jacob

“Lo!” cried the demon. “I am here! What dost thou seek of me? Why dost thou disturb my repose? Smite me no more with that dread rod!” He looked at Cabal. “Where’s your dread rod?”
“I left it at home,” replied Cabal. “Didn’t think I really needed it.”
“You can’t summon me without a dread rod!” said Lucifuge, appalled.
“You’re here, aren’t you?”
“Well, yes, but under false pretences. You haven’t got a goatskin or two vervain crowns or two candles of virgin wax made by a virgin girl and duly blessed. Have you got the stone called Ematille?”
“I don’t even know what Ematille is.”
Neither did the demon. He dropped the subject and moved on. “Four nails from the coffin of a dead child?”
“Don’t be fatuous.”
“Half a bottle of brandy?”
“I don’t drink brandy.”
“It’s not for you.”
“I have a hip flask,” said Cabal, and threw it to him. The demon caught it and took a dram.
“Cheers,” said Lucifuge, and threw it back. They regarded each other for a long moment. “This really is a shambles,” the demon added finally. “What did you summon me for, anyway?”

This quote may be more of a passage, but in itself it’s enjoyably unusual – and that, for me, sums up the novel it’s from perfectly. An excerpt from the first chapter of Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, it’s also hard to see how any novel which stars as its protagonist a pragmatic, cynical necromancer wouldn’t make at least ‘unusual’. And in the case of this series? Hilarious as well. This quote really sums up Cabal’s attitude – to him, magic is just another means to an end (and one he really wishes was more scientific). And when he confronts Hell, the Dreamlands, and even an eldritch abomination or two with that same attitude – and his typical cynicism – it’s very amusing. Especially with the zebras.

This beginning neatly sets up Johannes Cabal’s personality, and the attitude of the series as a whole – and really, it was what dragged me into reading a novel I only half-heartedly picked up. I’m glad I did finish it (in fact, the series has since become one I consistently recommend) – and that, for me, is why I picked this particular quote.

That, and the amusement value.