Review: American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

September 13, 2012 in General Topics

American Gods, by Neil GaimanDepending on your outlook about the subject matter, American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, is either remarkably imagined, impossibly bleak, or a combination of those two extremes. Gaiman himself poses no easy answers to the questions of faith and the supernatural world, having written a novel that could be seen as the inverse of Stephen King’s The Stand.

King’s work portrayed dueling forces drawing opposed factions of humanity to their banners in the ultimate battle between good and evil–a conflict to decide the fate of mankind. Even one of King’s central baddies, Randal Flagg, had a lastname appropriate to his purpose. Gaiman provides the opposite scenario: here, his powers could fight a savage war amongst themselves, and it’s strongly implied that not only would the average human be unaffected, they wouldn’t even notice. And his protagonist, known only as Shadow, could also be seen as a man with a name apropos to his role.

(Warning: Minor spoilers lie ahead.) Read the rest of this entry →

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The High Price of Attitude

August 23, 2012 in General Topics

“You know, I forget how young you are, Mitch…that you think you have to be a prick to get things done…and that you actually think that that’s a new idea.”Patch Adams


Stop it.

One of the many great things Christianity offers a troubled mankind is a salve for relentlessly aggressive tendencies; tendencies too often indulged by both believers and non-believers. I’ve joked with friends on the subject of evolution, which too many people expect me to take issue with because of my faith. I tell them I have no problem with the idea of being descended from primates – with evolution at all – but apes should have a problem with it, because it’s an insult to good apes everywhere.

Your average lowland gorilla just wants to hang around in the grass and chill out. Humans, on the other hand, seem to have a problem even handling basic internet conversation, without things spiraling horribly out of control. Read the rest of this entry →

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The Tyrant Strategy and The Target Audience

April 24, 2012 in General Topics

Let’s talk target markets, by talking about The Tyrant Strategy. Image Credit: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was conceptualizing this trilogy of fiction books (Part 1 coming this fall, kids!), I realized early on that I wanted to write for people who didn’t know they liked science fiction. I wanted an accessible military sci-fi epic with an emphasis on characters.

I wanted some extraordinary characters, but also ample heapings of regular folks that were meshed inextricably, and at times unwillingly, into the process of history being made — of the world changing. And these characters came from all walks of life. What’s crazy is how readily these characters overlap with my target audience. Read the rest of this entry →

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Merely Christian Stereotypes (in Fiction)?

April 7, 2011 in General Topics

Consider this carefully: try to find any positive representation of Christians, um, anywhere in modern media. What do we find instead? And why do we find it?
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Carrying a bible in a land of beakers

January 29, 2008 in General Topics

You out there know that I try to keep my blog focused away from my personal politics and ethics as much as possible. There are multiple reasons for this, a strong one being that I’d never want to accidentally offend a potential reader. Everyone out there are potential customers, and if I started railing on some personal subject of mine, I might come across the wrong way.

There’s other reasons, too, and they have a lot to do with the quality of the genre fiction community as a whole. Grab me in person some time, and maybe I’ll go into more detail.

But this time, I simply have to speak.

Let me add a disclaimer, right quick: I have a tale in for consideration to this market I’m about to discuss. So just in case you might get the impression I’m brown-nosing, let me dispel that right now. The point I’m going to get to is something I’d like any rational person to consider. In fact, it’s so important to me that I’ll open by taking a risk here and proving I’m being objective by offering some constructive feedback. Escape Pod has been on a roll since the later part of last year, in particular, but I’d be lying if I said I liked every story they’ve turned out. In particular, I’d like more fast-moving pieces, and more action in space.

Further more, as a plea to Steve Eley, whom I’ve corresponded with before and is very professional — Please: Run some of that flash fiction from last year’s contest. Drop the award-winners for a week and help out these folks. I know you’re likely already on this, and I know you’re swamped with work (judging by your intros) but please consider this a humble vote in favor of those winning flash pieces.

See? No brown-nosing.

Escape Pod ran a very good story this week that really struck close to home. The tale, “The Color of a Brontosaurus”, by Paul E. Martens, grabbed my attention immediately when I saw it in my iTunes feed, because I have a theory that dinosaurs almost always improve whatever work they grace. Sometimes I think dinosaurs were like a parting gift from God, as if the man upstairs really wanted to give a consolation prize to make up for the non-existence of dragons. In short, I dig them — at one point in my life, I wanted to make that literal. Still would, if Robert Baker came up one day and asked for some volunteer assistance at a site. These days, I settle for injecting these majestic critters into my work when I get a chance.

So I came for the dinosaurs, but a third of the way into the tale, I was floored by the wonderful dilemma one of the lead characters suddenly found themselves in. A man of science, rooted in the scientific method, he nonetheless is flabbergasted at the idea of seriously considering a creationist perspective to the events that have unfolded in the tale.

This touched perfectly on a growing problem I’ve continually seen in the broader scientific community, which is the stance that a person simply cannot be religious without being a peg down on the rational scale. This really bothers me.

From a scientific perspective, true rationality is at its apex when all ideas are considered until refuted. This is demonstrated wonderfully in this character’s battle with a potential reality he refuses to even consider, but unfortunately, this isn’t just fiction. I find it ironic that said scientific community, which prides itself on the endless quest for knowledge, for fact, has members with such a slanted, certain take on a possible explanation for — well, everything.

I’ve been in both camps before. I was a die-hard Christian until about age seventeen, then I was a hostile atheist until I was about twenty. I’ve never disclosed that amongst my peers before. Ready for the kicker? I’m a Christian again.

What led to that? First, I realized that if I closed my mind to other possibilities, I’d be sabotaging my own methods at finding the truth of existence. Second, I realized “religion” and “faith” can be different animals. Finally, I decided that it’d be horribly arrogant to assume at the ripe old age of twenty-X that I’d stumbled upon the unequivocal answer to the nature of the Universe.

I simply kept my mind open to the possibilities. I examined both sides closely. I read everything from Taoist philosophy to Nature Magazine. I was agnostic until last year. And, in the end, I found a personal connection with God was the end result. Was it a perfect approach? No, but it worked for me. I highly encourage you to try the same thing.

I know it’s human nature to desire absolutes, to take stands, but if there is one thing I think to be true, it’s that our perception of reality is a crude instrument, our studies so many insignificant needles poking holes of perception into the infinite cloth making up this existence.

I’m not asking you to “find God”. I’m not going to tell you faith has all the answers. After living in both sides, faith ended up having all the answers I needed, but it might not for you. I think it would if you gave it a chance, but don’t ever think I’ll assume you’re somehow less rational if you don’t arrive at the same conclusion.

All I ask — all most of us with faith would ask — is that you don’t be a scientist getting enraged at possibility. Don’t live your entire life on one side of the most important question that’s ever been asked.

I’m living my life carrying a bible in a land of beakers. Lest you discount what I’m saying because of what’s in my hand, then don’t call this a suggestion from a believer.

Call it a suggestion from a friend.

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