“I have nothing against Christian or Christian writers, but when I want a ‘Christian’ story, I will buy one. When I want military Science Fiction, that is what I want.”
“Pages upon pages of God this and God that … Oh GOD cut it out! If I want to be preached to, I’ll go to a sermon. When I read military science fiction, I want a good story, NOT a spiritual rant.”
“The main character had a fixation on the Bible. For no apparent reason he would start thinking about his ‘faith,’ question god’s ‘plan,’ do some soul-searching, then decide he is doing what god ‘wants’ him to do.”
Well…that answers that!
Not so fast.
The quotes that kicked this entry off, if you haven’t figured it out, are from selected 1-star reviews for Dawn of Destiny, the first installment of my Epic series (NOT representative of the vast majority of its reviews). The same sentiment can be taken from each: an unequivocal insistence that stories of faith have no business being in science-fiction. They are oil and water. Wheat and chaff. Teenagers and turn signals. So the question remains. Does faith belong in science-fiction?
My answer is unabashedly, wholeheartedly, yes.
Now before some of you get all crazy on me, take a moment to understand the statement you just read. It did not say, “To not advocate [insert any name of any religion] is to fail.” Nor did it read, “To say that God is not real is to fail.” Take a look at the fundamental basis of the originally-proposed question. Does faith belong in sci-fi?
According to a 2011 survey, 51% of the global population has a belief in God, with varying percentages falling under such options as, “believes in an afterlife,” or “undecided.” Only 18% classify themselves as “not religious.” Bear in mind, “not religious” does not equal “atheist.” It simply means “not religious.”
Faith is real. That is not to argue that it is correct, or proper, or in need of emphasis. It is simply to state what it states. Faith – the human belief in some sort of Almighty – is real.
This is really just touching on something that has become somewhat of a passion point for me lately: the mindset that the word “God” should never appear in any sort of science-fiction (unless it’s followed by an expletive). Characters who seem real should appear in science-fiction, and if characters who seem real should appear in science-fiction, then characters of faith should appear, as well. That’s not an opinion. Unless your protagonist is an atheist who will have zero contact with any other human throughout the course of your story, or the full length of the narrative takes place at an atheists’ convention, then faith must appear to some extent to capture the essence what we should strive for: realism..
Obviously the question still remains, to what extent should faith exist in a science-fiction story? And the answer is, “whatever you want.” Including faith does not mean pushing it. It does not mean leaving footnotes to Bible verses. It doesn’t even mean making the person of faith the hero (heroes are heroes, religious or atheist). But it shouldn’t be ignored. It exists, in the same way that atheism exists, in the same way that agnosticism exists, in the same way that this whacked-out kid who married a cow ( http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/830794-man-forced-to-marry-cow-faints-at-wedding ) exists.
Me, personally? I’m not a fan of laying it on thickly. In spite of what the reviewers at the top of this entry think they read (I’m fairly certain it wasn’t my book), my preference for faith inclusion leans toward light and subtle. Because isn’t that how most of us are, most of the time, with everything we do? Realism is captured in subtleties. Now, the faith element of Epic and in particular in Scott Remington – my protagonist – is absolutely there, and I make zero apologies. But we – and particularly the owners of the quotes that kicked off this entry – make a mistake when we view “there” as “preaching.” We make a mistake when we don’t want faith present at all. We might as well marry a cow.
Okay, so that last line didn’t make sense. But just the same…what the heck was that kid thinking?