Wairua

christchurch

© Steve Withers – Google Maps

The block in downtown Christchurch was being demolished. The buildings around the public parking lot had been abandoned for a decade. Anyone who wanted, could indulge themselves with cans of spray paint. Some graffiti was elementary, other projects were expertly artistic. A shame the heavy equipment would destroy the good with the bad.

The indigenous Māori people thrived in New Zealand until the arrival of Europeans. To this day, they suffer the fate of indigenous populations all over the world.

It looked like a clown’s face, a fearsome one. Wairua or spirit was from the old Polynesian beliefs, and the art gave it a form with which to act. Wairua would turn the Māori away from Presbyterian, Mormon, and Islam faiths and back to the old ways. Wairua would teach them tapu, noa, and mana again, to preserve who they were, who they are, who they will be one day.

I wrote this in response to J. Hardy Carroll’s What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo above, taken from Google Maps, as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

I’m playing fast and loose with the history of Christchurch and of the Māori people, so don’t look too closely for reality or historic accuracy.

I considered making the spirit vengeful, but as I recall, I already wrote a story about that. Instead, I decided to incite a revival among the Māori people, a return to their original spiritual beliefs, a reunification with who they were before the Europeans arrived. So many indigenous people all over the world have had their cultures, their languages, their spiritual beliefs destroyed by colonizers. I thought it was time some of them got all that back, at least in fiction.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

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A Small Commentary on Politics, Religion, and Science Fiction

controversy

What discussing religion online is like sometimes

The other day I came across a “rant” written last year by Arthur Chu at Salon.com called Sci-fi’s right-wing backlash: Never doubt that a small group of deranged trolls can ruin anything (even the Hugo Awards) which caused me to think (well, I think anyway, but this article initiated a specific set of thoughts).

While I can see how the Hugo awards may not generally represent the entire body of science fiction readers in the world (and I suspect many or most awards are manipulated one way or the other), if I’m reading Chu correctly, he seems to think that all science fiction (and maybe all products of the entire entertainment industry) should and must represent a socially and politically liberal world view.

If that’s true, then my response is “why?”.

Here’s the most relevant statement Chu made:

I will point out that if you look at the Hugo Awards’ slate for this year you’ll see a record-breaking six nominations for John C. Wright, including three out of five of the best novella nominations being stories written by Wright.

Wright, a man so essential to the state of science fiction in 2015 that he doesn’t have a single bestseller, he’s signed with a micro-publisher based in Finland with a total of eight authors on its roster, and I’m the only person I know in real life who’s heard of him. Mainly because I hate-follow his incredible rants about how everything from the Syfy Network to “The Legend of Korra” is too gay for him to tolerate.

I’ve never met Wright. I’ve never even exchanged emails with him. I think I left a comment on one of his blog posts once, but he never responded.

The impression I get from reading or watching most fiction is that the creators of these works seem to have the idea that their version of the world, which espouses a progressive ideology, represents the world as it really is (or should be).

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The Evolution of Religious Themes in My Fiction

controversy

What discussing religion online is like sometimes

I mentioned in the comments section of The Good Robot that I’m not so much writing religious science fiction as writing science fiction with certain religious and spiritual elements. The distinction is important. Except for some noteworthy exceptions, religious science fiction, such as Christian science fiction or Jewish science fiction, will appeal to only a limited audience.

Of course, the same can be said of science fiction in general, but the number of people who will read the latter is probably much larger than those who would read the former.

That said, sources such as Amazon and Wikipedia highlight a great number of science fiction stories that leverage religious themes, but these are sometimes fictional religions rather than ones we are aware of in our world, or very fictionalized versions of religions we’re familiar with in our lives.

I came across an interview with Orson Scott Card at Writing-World.com that reminded me that in most fiction, including science fiction, religious people and religion (specifically Christianity and Judaism) are depicted in unfavorable ways.

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