Mother Goddess of the Three Realms

hau dong

Summon going on: An Chinh, a medium, in a performance of Hau Dong at the Viet Theatre in Hanoi ( Reuters )

The mother goddess swirled in the clouds above Hanoi. It had been many years since she had been summoned, but for months now, she could hear the calls.

“At last, my children have remembered me.”

For moments, she considered the various mediums who invoked her.

“Yes, she is the one. Her followers give great offerings, and her soul is devoted.”

The mother goddess descended to a modest collection of apartments, and one occupied by 24-year-old Le Dinh Hoang who is in the midst of performing the noisy and possibly even ostentatious Hau Dong ceremony, visions of water, forest, and heaven dancing in her mind and the others present.

Then the medium and garage mechanic sighs, shudders, and then she stands. When she opens her eyes, they are sapphire blue rather than their usual brown, and the rest of them know. Le Dinh Hoang is gone. The mother goddess walks among them.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image and/or location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Hanoi, Vietnam. I suppose I could have written about Hanoi Jane, but the celebrity infamous among Vietnam era veterans didn’t pop into my head until I began authoring this afterword.

Hanoi Jane

Actress Jane Fonda sits on an antiaircraft gun during a 1972 trip to North Vietnam (Nihon Denpa News/AP)

However, after looking up Hanoi’s vast history, I settled on the news story Vietnam’s spirit mediums revive once forbidden ritual. Ever since the 16th century, the Hau Dong ritual, which pays homage to the Mother Goddess of the three realms, forest, water, and heaven, has been practiced, but when the Communists came to power, it was banned. Now it is experiencing a revival, and I thought I’d base my wee tale on this bit of news.

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

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The Switchman’s Lantern

fairytale

Image: Google Images – labelled for re-use.

Josiah Bell was a switchman like his Pappy before him. He had a gimpy leg from an accident he had when he was six so he walked the tracks carrying his lantern in one hand and a long pole in the other. On top of the pole, he hung a red kerchief on a nail which he liked to wave at the engineers as they drove their enormous machines along the tracks.

He was working the yards in Chicago and it was damn early in the morning and cold. He done heard on the radio what those Hitler and Mussolini fellas was doing and how them Germans sent their army into peaceful Denmark and Norway. Josiah was a peaceful man and a simple one but he didn’t take to no bullies. He’d been bullied plenty as a child because of his bum leg. A lot of folks wanted America to stay out of that mess in Europe and maybe they were right, but then who was gonna take care of those bullies?

The 3:10 from Omaha was just coming up to his switch. Josiah set down his pole and grasped the metal bar and with a practiced hand and steely sinews, pulled, switching the course of the train from the main line to the freight yards. Then he stood, putting most of weight on his good leg and waved his lantern. No use waving the kerchief on the pole, too dark to see it.

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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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