Religion in SFF

“Portal to the Depths of Space” by ErikShoemaker is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

There was a discussion not so long ago, on Twitter (I don’t have to remember how to work the shortcode this time … sadly I’ve forgot who posted it and so can’t look for it. Maybe someone will post it in the replies) about how strange, and rather colonialist, to think that in space and in future there is no religion.

If you think about it, it is pretty daft. Why would religion disappear like that? The rather moronic and racist notion of Social Darwinism, if you must know.

I can see religions that have to adjust their thinking. Some Abrahamic religions have sects that interpret their religion such that it is incompatible with meeting alien life – especially wholly alien life – unless they want to … oh, never mind, some of that lot already tend towards such a warped perception of their holy works commingled with Renaissance painters being ecstatic over new pigments that they’re the sort who consider anyone not like themselves to be subhuman anyway. Still the ones not rabidly racist will have to adjust their doctrine or haemorrhage believers to the point of [veritable] extinction.

Why, though, should we believe that the peoples we find among the stars won’t have religions, superstitions, and more?

Sure, it is possible the psychology of an alien race is such that it doesn’t do faith, or dogma, or any of that. It does not mean they’re more advanced, as the standard trope of SFF would have you believe, merely that they are not human. Which is cool. They’re not better but neither are we. The only reason you’re unlikely to see such in my writing except as a passing character is that, like atheism, I find it tremendously difficult to wrap my head around.

Oh, but Jaye, you’ve said you aren’t religious! [Insert references here], see?! You’re an atheist! (Says all the religious folk, especially the atheists … which is a different tangent I’m not following. And I’m not even medicated for my ADHD anymore).

No, I’m not religious. Therefore I am neither atheist not theist, though neither am I agnostic in the strictest sense. In some definitions of the latter I am, in fact, agnostic, but in my own understanding of the word I prefer not to claim it. I do believe that the universe was created. I feel that it’s reasonable to assume aspects of our reality, possibly our very biologies, are the work of beings more advanced than ourselves and more ancient. These we may as well call gods. I mean … it’s a nice catchy word is ‘gods’, sorta rolls off the tongue. Deorum, los dioses, gli dei, na déithe, die götter, nā akua, devataon, para dewa, kamigami … see? round the globe it’s just such a catchy little way to express it. And so bloody versatile it is! It doesn’t have to mean omni-anything, or even immortal! If you remember there’s faiths, religions, gods, beliefs outside of the western world and it’s Christian-centric way of thinking.

It’s fun to write religious characters. It’s enlightening to envision the faiths of races that evolved around an alien sun. To try to understand what is important, divine, to a sensual race of empaths; to an obligate carnivore; to people who have been among the stars and meeting alien beings for longer than humanity has had fire.

Science fiction ignores all of this in favour of the cult of scientific dogma and a sense of logical superiority. Mostly because of an utter and ingrained disdain for the “soft” sciences … thank you John Fucking Dickface Campbell.

Fantasy is much more open to it, if sometimes misunderstanding how polytheism works. But at least Gary Gygax can be thanked for that; sadly a desperate bid to be taken more seriously by the SciFi crowd has lead to a breed of fantasy that is more faithfully drab.

Still, Star Trek vs Star Wars: SW was a more rich and vibrant tapestry even if the only religion given any serious visibility was The Force, in particular the Jedi understanding of it. We never truly learn of the adherents of the light, and then we finally get some glimpse of the Sith but unclear if they’re adherents to the dark or merely unbalanced Jedi or if even there is a strict difference. But we have the questions because we have that glimpse and all a storyteller can ever really do is give a glimpse. Star Trek is so often so much flatter and more … what’s the word … Stepfordy … which means you don’t get much room to ponder these questions. Everyone is like some soulless cog in some cosmic machine. Newer things colour this in, at least for the aliens, so that’s helpful.

Still, imagine it. Take yourself into the great deadly void of space. Race at hyperphotonic speeds between the stars, between the galaxies. You’re like the ancient Polynesian in a canoe on the ocean headed towards an island no one has set foot on before or even seen. You’ve skill, knowledge, supplies, wits, and courage … but do you sincerely believe you go out there alone? That you don’t carry with you gods whose caprice could drown or starve you? Whose benevolence will deposit you on the shore of the next paradise? Of one who is eagerly riding, just in the corner of your eyes, along for the grand adventure as excited and thrilled at the prospect of discovery as you are? I said LIKE, I’m not painting a photorealistic picture of Polynesian sailors. But it’s scary and uncertain. There will be things difficult to explain. Even once your science can explain it … just because you know how the gods made it work doesn’t mean they didn’t make it work, just that you’re possibly one step closer to godhood yourself and you may wish to ponder what sort of gods you’d wish to be.

Perhaps, even, we already are clumsy and fledgling gods creating strange alien universes in CERN unwittingly bringing to life whole existences and realities. What if one day we do so on purpose and with control? Cool, huh? Maybe that’s the religion of the peoples who ride the worlds circling the middle sun of Orion’s belt.

It’s why my characters always have beliefs, faiths. Even Sally, who is angry with God and is shunning Him, has faith and religion. She believes in the God whom she rejects. Otherwise what’s she angry at? Sure, she doesn’t buy that He’s the only one. She doesn’t. And as such felt a pull to wonder at the others and how they might fit into her life, but she wasn’t ready for that and then Lauren showed her a way to see things differently. That it was people and their temples and churches who were wrong and not her God … she’s still angry, still resentful; it’s in her nature and unlike Lauren she demands answers why God allows such things in His name. But she can accept Him.

Yes, Now & Forever is contemporary, not SFF. But it doesn’t make it any less an illustration that people interpret the universe in a shield of faith. Even atheists with their dogmatic adherence to science. Some are more flexible, they adapt their teachings and beliefs in accordance with new science just as any religion that wishes to understand the universe would. Others balk at changes in knowledge and understanding, are aghast that their deities like Hawking or Einstein could have been fallible, could be wrong. Some understand the underpinnings of their faith in sciences as a quest for knowledge and understanding and that these can change in light of new data; just as there are Christians who understand that Jesus said we should love our neighbours and that God is a kind and benevolent father.

But it’s no more realistic to say that only one religion follows humanity to the stars than to say that everyone in space is American. It just doesn’t fit facts. The language of Terrans in the stars could be Hindi or Mandarin; it could be a language as yet unspoken as it hasn’t been born of the combined cultures and tongues of joint travels and mixed settlements.

I have probably wandered down a tangential rabbit hole. Those who were betting I would may now collect their winnings.

I’m sure I had a point around here someplace. Looked shiny, had space churches in? Anyway it’s stupid and boring to say there isn’t religion in space. That’s all … and now I have a better understanding of the end of Weird Al’s Albuquerque 🤔. Except I rather like sauerkraut, at least good sauerk—I’m doing it again.

Still imagine those stars populated with gods and pantheons and spirits and færies and ghosts, goblins, spooks, spectres, saints, sinners, paladins, priests, crusades, zealots, adherents, layman, friars, monks, et al. Unashamedly recognise that our most chimplike ancestors seemed to have done funerals. We’ve believed in something higher for millions of years, we’re not liable to stop and it seems unlikely that the psychology of a race we can have meaningful conversation with is liable to be so tremendously different in the end. So go ye forth and spread the Word(s) and erect those monuments. You’ll create, in the end – I’ve faith – a brighter and more palatable future for us all.

Romantic Inclusivity

Now, I’ve said before that Romance is not a genre I’m well acquainted with. It mostly bores me and drives me up a wall.

To be fair I do watch good rom-coms like Imagine Me & You, But I’m a Cheerleader, For a Good Time Call …, Pretty Woman, etc.

But it isn’t something I read I’ve tried but I can’t get into it.

I realised today, thanks to @NeolithicSheep just what the problem I have is.

She decided to tweet-stream a book. And I mean zero criticism to the charming Comrade Shepherd herself; she’s merely a catalyst and her tweet-stream is quite entertaining … far more so than I find the story itself.

And I may have made a brief subtweet on the subject of today’s blogpost but there’s zero point linking to that because I’ll say the same thing here with LOTS more words.

In fairness to the authors of these stories, I do not have the faintest idea how monochromatic they are. For all I know the were-bears are Iroquois, and were-tigers are Nepalese, and … stuff. Which, I’m sure, Tumblr-folk (look, they haven’t settled on a new platform so the name can’t change yet) will complain “that’s so problematic!” but there’s a reason nobody takes the Tumblr crowd seriously: They’re the looking for reasons to be offended sort and I’ve no patience for that; won’t even argue with it, occasionally contemplate slapping the snot out of it but mostly I roll my eyes and move on, because there’s no discussion or debate with that sort. They’re basically the alt-left, the liberal-Nazi … you know, the opposition’s morons. But to return to my point, the cast may be if divers skin tone, accent, religion, and nationality 🤷‍♀️.

But, you know, despite my wife’s cruel sense of humour including reading about all these crazy subgenres of Romance she never hits a single lgbt+ example?!

Not among were-erotica romances, not among the 50 Shades knockoff garbage (I abhor 50 Shades as much or more than Twilight), none of it. The Romance shelves are barren of a Red Sonja-esque Fabia with a damsel draped in her arms. Of a Sean Connery kissing a Valentino. Of … gimme a break, Romance covers don’t get very creative.

I mean, if you’re diligent enough you will find a het-romance with a male POV character or a 3rd person that is either over his shoulder or includes his perspective in the omniscience. That bends the mould a little.

But where’s the shattering?!

I mean, literally – near as I could determine it after weeks (months?) of scouring both trad & self pub – Now & Forever is either first of its kind or damn-near-so as being gay fiction that’s happy. I wrote the Male POV Bodice Ripper of Gay Teen Romance (note: Both girls’ bodices remain intact in the only occasion any bodices are worn).

Now, I’m probably going to have were-things in Færie Patrol because why not. And they’re going to be anywhere on the gender spectrum and anywhere on the sexuality one as is my wont.

But where’s the cliché, formulaic nonsense about A Woman and a Were-Tigress? The Alpha-Bitch taming the New York Banker Man? The (oh gods, I can’t not go here) Were-Bear Bear Couple? (Sorry, not sorry) The Trans Marine Time-Traveller and The Viking Princess/Prince?

Nowhere to be seen! Even in the nightmarish dregs of Smashwords‘ strangest tags (not for the faint of heart, it’s safer to go have tea with a Lovecraftian Horror) I found nothing.

I’m sure it exists. Schrödinger’s Novella mandates it must; but then again, Law of Cliché Themodynamics may overrule and state that no one has actually tried to counter the cis-het momentum in any meaningful way! thus it actually does not yet exist! Which, of course is in keeping with Schrödinger’s Novella because quantum cheats by maintaining strict neutrality.

Why, my dears, must we all suffer at the hands of [Insert culturally stereotypically masculine animal] were-bro of muscles, machismo, misogyny, and let’s collectively vomit 🤮 now wins the vaginal canal (surely he wouldn’t know a clitoris if it bit him on the pecker … oh! An Akira twist! I love it!) of the Lovely Lady With Humdrum Life (or sometimes a bit Kardashianesque Life) which the author conflates with her heart and they all live abusively ever after, amen 🙏?!

I say bollox to all that. Go forth, my lovely minions! I say: Subvert, pervert, and anything else ending in -vert all the Romance Genres! Flood them with lesbians, Enbys, aces, bisexuals, transsexuals, transvestites, drag queens, bears, and twinks, a veritable Pride Parade of queery awesomeness 🏳️‍🌈! Drape the cover models in rainbow flags! Have the Naga Queen with the mostly nude virgin in her clutches from behind have her hand upon yon maid’a crotch and breats the embrace rapturous rather than terrible!

Why? Because it’s getting boring around the genre. I used to boggle at the “plot” crap my wife would torment me with from this stuff and now I just shake my head and finish washing the dishes.

Let’s shake things up like the megaquakes that broke Pangea!

P.S. I proofread this twice. Any typos have earned the right to live via natural selection.

In other news

Book 3 needs a bloody title! 😩

So I’ve rather got back into writing of late! It’s crazy, I don’t have a lot of time for it because of work but I’ve been getting some squeezed in, even a little at work! (Thank you tiny quiet offices!)

Sadly little of it has been book 3. Three side project quirky … I don’t even know what they ares … have been eating at my attention instead.

One is a quirky telepathic girl from another galaxy meets a young space rat (think street urchin but on starships, in spaceports, and on space stations) orphan and … it’s a very weird pile of twists on the old princess falls for the poor street waif sort of story. Along with a sort of reverse Cinderella or Annie if you twist your brain into a tasty pretzel 🥨.

Another is a young half-human and half-not girl from Earth and her family fleeing the world and it’s social hostility to her existence, that of two other of their children, and none too kindly to the parents either … it’s poignant but it’s relatively happy and funny despite that.

And a young alien girl from an alien world joins a student exchange program by the Terran government to come to one of their worlds and attend school there for a term. I’m worried she’s going to try to start a revolution 🤭.

But my steam for those has waned so perhaps I can concentrate on Book 3 again soon.

I know how late it is. Exhaustion, Depression, and … Time … I work 6 days a week and at times am 13hrs or more a day spent working + commuting for said work.

But I have an interview Thursday coming for a promotion! That will mean MORE time. It’s also going to mean a chance to buy a big beautiful house (a specific one I have my eye on, to clarify), and other niceties.

And … bollox … how does one categorise and tag posts in the WordPress App these days?!

Oh found it … the the three dots, Post Settings. Makes sense.

#BNFestBuzz announcement!

I have an event!!!

I’ve been invited, like totally out of the blue, to be one of the authors at the Teen Festival thing at the Hadley, MA B&N!

What’s weirder?  I agreed!

Have I mentioned before I’m shy?  I’m going to be doing a book signing, and there was mention of something involving the words “reading” and “excerpt” …

What have I got myself into?

Look, if you’re in New England and want to have a copy of my book signed by me in person like face-to-face and all that, I’ll be on Sunday 12 June at 3PM EDT.

This, by the way, would be some of that other 10% stressful stuff from my previous post.

Rant over modern series writing

(Sarah is a cuckoo—a breed of human-looking cryptid that’s biologically more like a giant wasp than any sort of primate, and telepathic to boot. Evolution is funky sometimes.)

Excerpt From: Seanan McGuire. “Midnight Blue-Light Special.” iBooks.

So, at the moment, I’m rereading Midnight Blue-Light Special.  And it made me have to say something about why I don’t read a lot of newer series.

There are 3 fundamental approaches to series.

The Discworld Model:

This is for series like Bernie Rhodenbarr, the Rita Mae Brown & Sneakie Pie Brown mysteries, Discworld, Mithgar, and similar.  In these (and Mithgar is, quite possibly, the most amazingly perfect example) the books stand alone.  There’s little reference to the prior events, or they’re referenced in off-hand manner if relevant to the moment in the same way you or I will make off-hand references to our own pasts.  Other than that the book of the moment is pretty thoroughly divorced from the books before and after.  You can literally pick up at any point in the series and not be missing anything besides the fun of the other books … which you can just pick up and enjoy as you go.

The Serial Model:

This is the classic Book 1, Book 2, etc model.  This is Now & Forever, this is Harry Potter, this is – frankly – most series.  This is “To Be Continued” through to “The End”.  Sometimes you can muddle through if you pick up part way in.  Harry PotterLittle House, and others aren’t nonsense if you pick up later than the beginning, but it helps.  Well … Little House might be more of a Discworld Model, now I think of it, but humour me.

The thing with these is that you write them assuming that the person reading book 2 read book 1.  If you write something that was explained in book 1 you don’t explain it again, you move on because you’re not worried about confusing anyone because they read book 1 or bloody well best have done.

The Modern Model:

This is one I really don’t like.  I’ve read things, namely InCryptid, that use it.  But it annoys the hell out of me and the stories have to be very good for me to let it slide and keep going … or you have to not do a very good job of it, thus begging the question of why the author bothered instead of sticking with the Serial Model (possibly the actual case with InCryptid … I’m not actually 100% certain).

In this you try to do the bastardisation of the Discworld Model and the Serial Model.  Your books are very “to be continued”, and rely heavily on what came before, but you try to accommodate the ones who are coming in a bit late.  Now, some series are a blending of these. Mithgar has Serials (duologies, trilogies, etc) tossed in amongst the larger tapestry of things.  Shannara too.  But series of Serials is a whole other kettle of popcorn.

I don’t like this one as a reader, nor as a writer.  It’s this philosophy that your Serial should be accessible to any and sundry who walk in 5min before the closing credits.  That really doesn’t work.  You have to insert little obnoxious infodumps that irritate those who have been there since the curtain went up, and unless you want to make your books exponentially thicker by basically reprinting the prior book into the following books –building them into an omnibus edition as you go – you’re going to annoy the mid-streamer who is like “well, she explained this, but why doesn’t she explain that?!”

There.  Was I going anywhere with this?

No, not especially.  Just saying that I don’t grok the modern method of serialising and it irritates me when I encounter it.  All the other crap about the other 2 methods was to illustrate what I meant.  Now, back to the book; it has Aeslin Mice in 😍

ZOMG! She lives!?

Yeah, that’s becoming a rather popular post topic for me lately.

Sorry about that.  This has just been a year of hell for me.  Some ups, certainly.  Moving to Massachusetts has been pretty cool if not without its sour notes.  I’ve become addicted to Doctor Who which is bloody fantastic, but Netflix (henceforth referred to as ‘the meanie bad people’ for short) haven’t got series 9 yet, so I don’t get to find out what’s been going on.

I’ve been managing to write.  Not as much or as often as I’d like.  Some of it has been a lack of time.  Since 12 November I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of days and hours dealing with my jobs, but that’s starting to mellow out.  The time I have had that could be spent writing has been spent in the sorts of things one must do in order that stress does not eat her brain … and sufficient stress of the wrong sort is bad for people with chronic depression (and I are one such person), and if you’ve ever tried to write when having attacks of depression you know it tends to make the stories go in dark and unhappy directions.  Dark and unhappy can be fine, here and there, but we’re talking the kind of dark and unhappy that gets you the “the dog dies” award (sorry, forgot its name, lots of kids books I never liked at all have it – to the point I treat it the same as a skull and crossbones on a bottle in the cupboard).

So far, as of the same sorts of dates that 2015 had started looking down (early December 2014, no lie), 2016 is starting to look really up.  So, that said, I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for a summer 2016 release of the, still, unnamed Book 3.  I’ve gotten more than a page into the first Færie Patrol which is turning out interesting and teaching me fun things about the world and characters.  Can’t recall if I ever got any further in the story about that transgender girl I started one day on a whim (no link because I’m buggered if I recall where I mentioned that).

I’m going to try to be a little more active here soon.  Some of it is going to bend my guidelines RE talking politics (read:  I’m going to bloody well talk about a few things, and I may as well warn I use words I learnt from my wife when Donald Trump and the GOP get brought up these days), primarily US politics. I might not, though.  I also may talk about some of the quirkier trans* issues.  I shan’t be discussing the new Star Wars film because I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to see it due to being, currently, unable to afford a ticket (while I’m not saying this in hopes people will donate a ticket, this is the internet and I’ve seen it happen too many times to not point to the contact link above for anyone who takes this notion into their head.  This said because I may as well – if I explicitly said “please do not …” people would anyway, so screw trying).

As per usual, Happy Holidays.  I’m in a sufficiently high Jewish populated area to know that Hanukkah is over or nearly so, so happy belated that.  Merry Christmas coming up for those folks.  Solstice/Jül/etc is coming up later this week for my Pagan loves, so enjoy – no over indulging in the holy water for you ADF folks.  Turns out there’re almost as many Muslim holidays in December as there are days in the year (just kidding, but there are a lot) and I can’t spell any but Ramadan, but as especially fond happy/merry/blessed series of celebrations for you folks; sorry for all the crap people are giving you, please know some of us do wish you well and would love to punch certain people in the mouth on your behalf.

Happy Mothers’ Day!!

Česky: Matka a dítě. עברית: אם ובנה, 2007. Sve...

I know it’s not Mothers’ Day all over the world.  Sue me, I’m in the U.S. and I didn’t even realise it was this weekend here until Friday leaving work, okay?

Anyway, Love or Lust is 100% off anywhere I could set it.  Ready or Not is 50% off in all the same places.  Oh, did I mention this sale is going to run all week?

As usual I’ve too little practical control over Nook and Kindle pricing.  Amazon will probably eventually price match me, but I can’t say when.  Kindles and Nooks can read the files you’d get from All Romance eBooks, so I recommend users of those devices consider that source.

I know, a Lesbian Teen Romance, what kind of Mother’s Day gift is that?

I don’t know.  I suppose I was thinking about all of those lesbian mothers out there who in the past year have seen their lives validated and vindicated somewhat in … is it 38 states, plus DC and Puerto Rico now?  Some people prefer YA/Teen fiction; I mean some of the best new books I’ve read in the past decade was the Harry Potter series.  Maybe it could be a way for some of my lesbian/bi female readers to prime their mother(s) for letting her/them know about the new fiancée and future daughter-in-law they’ll be meeting today?  Give me a break, it makes more sense than some of the places out there having a sale this weekend.

And, whether you’re a mother of human kids or furry/feathered/scaly ones have a happy Mothers’ Day whether you grab a copy of my books or not.

Another SALE!!!

allromanceebooksI thought it was kind of fun putting up that little single source sale the other day, so I decided to do it again! This time it’s over at All Romance eBooks

81KX3TFsgwL._SL1500_Ready or Not (concept only)Once more Love or Lust is absolutely free.

And Ready or Not can be had for 75% off ($1 by the way ARe rounds the fraction, sorry; take it up with their coders)

iBooks Sale

81KX3TFsgwL._SL1500_For not real reason beyond “I can” I’ve put Love or Lust on sale for 100% off (that’s free for those who may need another cup of coffee before following maths) and Ready or Not is marked down to 99¢!  Just for today.  It ends some time tomorrow.

71jhJo-DxUL._SL1500_Other ebook stores?  No, not today anyway.  I might randomly work my way through all of them, and the sales may not be exactly the same on all (especially given some don’t allow the same sorts of sales options), but my Apple using fans have a treat this Sunday.  You’re welcome.

Why Apple first?  Possibly because I have a new Android phone (it was $20 and my Samsung flip was so old it wasn’t fully compatible with texting anymore so it seemed like a good idea at the time) and while I kind of like the hardware I want to slap whoever designed Android, so there’s possibly a subconscious impetus behind starting with Apple.  Or, I might be starting with A.  I don’t really know.  This was, frankly, a whim that came to me like 1minute ago while I was perusing Twitter.