Friday, May 27, 2011

On Religion in Fiction

Iron Angels is an interesting, challenging story for me.

At it's heart, IA is about a religious group attempting to avoid destruction. It is a fairly common theme in a lot of works of fiction and non-fiction, as our world has plenty of real life examples of the persecution of minority religious groups. There's plenty of inspiration there.

The worrisome part comes in a little later. First of, IA is science fiction, which means a strong religious element is a little, well, unusual. When a sci fi novel includes a religion, the belief system typically turns out to be one of two things. Either it is flat out wrong and possibly the reason some of the bad guys are bad in the first place, or its inaccurate and technically based on advanced science or alien contact the characters simply lacked the intelligence to understand at first. I think maybe the only time that religion has been introduced in a more positive light that I can think of was in Star Wars (the Force) and the original Battlestar Galactica (written by a Mormon). So it is kind of wierd to be working it in to a genre which very often is not friendly to it.

The second part that has concerned me is the fact that I need to include a character who is basically a prophet. With a character like that,it is very easy to wander into Mary Sue territory. An example I guess could be Galahad, perhaps the first example of the Mary Sue. Dude was just so gratingly perfect that people kind of end up hating him and gravitating towards one of the more human, relatable characters like Gawain or Lancelot instead. I don't want to write a Galahad, but at the same time I want this character to be considered an actual head of a real religion, rather than straying into one of the situations that I mentioned above. It has been a rather interesting struggle, but I think I've done a decent job of working it out so far.

The most ironic thing is that while I've been sweating bullets over this aspect of the story, the initial reaction to the first part of IA in the writing group was that the religious part was the most interesting part of the story. Figures...

No comments:

Post a Comment