Friday, August 11, 2006

Crooked Letter and why I rarely read fantasy linked to modern day, myths or religion

Just finished Crooked Letter by Sean Williams. I got the book because I liked quite a lot Mr. Williams original sf work (Ressurected Man, Evergence, Heirs of Earth, Geodesica), though the subject of this book is almost the most unappealing possible to me. I just do not like fantasy linked to modern day or metaphysical speculation based on myths or religion (give me metaphysical speculation based on multiverses, ai's, aliens, hyperspace...) Thinking about why, I realized that there are 3 main components of my dislike: solipsism, incongruity and irrelevance
Solipsistic books (the hero/s and their friends and enemies hold the fate of the universe or everything as we know it in their hands/minds whether by chance or design) tend to appeal to me far less than books that are ground in a society that exists and will continue to exist independently of the plot of the book. The one solipsistic series that I enjoyed the most recently was Godplayers/K-machines by D. Broderick for its inventivness and sense of humour.
I can imagine BasLag, The 7 Kingdoms or Castleland and accept magic and weirdness there, but to accept magic in the modern day is very hard because of its incongruity, kind of like accepting conspiracy theories or superheros; I can like a rare book of this type (The Eight by C. Neville was the last one I truly enjoyed), but rare is the operative word. To me all these kind of books are wish fulfillment that I do not get.
With all due respect, I just do not get the relevance of myths and religion outside the historical context and the morality tales to the modern world. Surely people kill even today in the name of religion, but they are not part of the modern world being stuck in the 12th century mind set, but that's a different story. I do not consider myself an atheist since the universe is so vast and mysterious (just think of the question are we alone as a sentient species in the observable universe say - and think what a definite answer yes or no would mean, how tremendous either would be) but to believe that ancients got these things right does not cut it for me. The reality is far stranger than they and we for that matter can imagine, and we as a sentient species are embarked on the voyage to omega.
Going back to Crooked Letter, it's a very well written book and if the subject matter appeals to you it's a great book; I do not regret reading it and I can not say I was dissapointed since it was what I expected. I also am very interested in reading Blood Debt which sounds a bit different though set in the same reality since I like Mr. Williams style.



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