Category Archives: Spirituality/Paganism
Exactly one year and one hundred posts since we were last at this spoke of the wheel…and STK turns two years old! And what a year it’s been. I didn’t fulfill last year’s wish of having a full-time job on this date, but I’m certainly working enough for a full-time job, and, more importantly, am back on track career-wise, so I think the spirit of the wish, if not the letter of it, has been fulfilled.
I’ve decided I’m just crazy enough to try to read every book that’s ever won the Hugo Award for Best Novel…and, of course, that I want to share this insane experience with all of you. After the head-banging trainwreck of last week’s supplementary edition, it is highly appropriate that we slow down this week and take a leisurely tour of a fairly familiar planet Earth as seen by the original Martian Boy. Please fasten your seat belts and keep all hands and legs inside the vehicle as we embark on sixty-odd posts of science fiction, speculation and social justice!
Stranger in a Strange Land
Robert A. Heinlein
published in 1961
uncut version published 1991
Valentine Michael Smith: the Man from Mars. Born to human parents, he was raised by Martians in a Martian nest, and sees the Universe through Martian eyes. Earth is an alarming place for a being raised on Mars, just as Mike’s Martian attitudes shock and alarm ordinary Earthlings. But as Michael struggles to unite these two very different paradigms, he and those willing to grok with him discover a better way to be human.
Warning! Mild spoilers ahead!
This was my second re-read of THP, about six years after the first read as a senior in high school. I’d forgotten how much I love this book. I must apologize for the crap summary above; it’s really hard to do this book justice!
And I adore this cover. It’s not the original edition, but it’s just so…evocative. Of what, I’m not entirely sure, but I could just stare at it for hours. The light, and the color, and the movement…the feeling of sinking and rising at the same time…
I’ve decided I’m just crazy enough to try to read every book that’s ever won the Hugo Award for Best Novel…and, of course, that I want to share this insane experience with all of you. I hope you all enjoyed last week’s supplemental edition concerning the cinematic travesty that is Starship Troopers. This week we return to something resembling serious discourse as we visit Walter M. Miller’s post-apocalyptic future. Please don your complementary radioactive hazard suits before exiting the vehicle; we would hate to lose anyone to radiation poisoning before we finish our tour of sixty-odd posts of science fiction, speculation and social justice!
A Canticle for Leibowitz
Walter M. Miller, Jr.
published as 3 short stories in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1955, 1956, and 1957
published as a unified novel in 1960
In the 20th century, humanity destroyed itself. Nuclear holocaust lead to a backlash against scientific learning, and the survivors plunged themselves into a second Dark Age. Only a few “bookleggers” dared try to preserve the learning of their ancestors. Over the course of centuries, the Order of Saint Leibowitz – one of the original bookleggers – safeguards what little remains of humankind’s scientific knowledge. Civilizations rebuild, but will humans be any wiser the second time around when it comes to nuclear physics?
Warning! Mild spoilers ahead!
This is the second time I’ve read this, the first being at the tender age of 15 for my high school sci fi lit class. I liked it better the second time around, perhaps because I had a better grasp of Miller’s complex world – although I freely admit that I still don’t quite Get It when it comes to this book. Trying to write this review is giving me a massive headache, and most of it is just me mocking the Catholic Church.
I’ve decided I’m just crazy enough to try to read every book that’s ever won the Hugo Award for Best Novel…and, of course, that I want to share this insane experience with all of you. Our destination this week is the planet Lithia; our guide, a Jesuit priest. Proceed with caution: non-Catholics are advised to done their Reading Glasses and Catholics should make sure their sense of humor is turned on and functioning properly. Please keep all arms, legs, and alien children inside the Popemobile as we continue our trip through sixty-odd posts of science fiction, speculation and social justice!
A Case of Conscience
published as a novella in 1953
expanded and published as a novel in 1958
Father Ramon Ruiz-Sanchez, a Jesuit and a biologist, journeys to the planet Lithia, home of the first intelligent extraterrestrial species man has encountered. They’re intelligent, peaceful, utopian – and Godless. Ruiz-Sanchez knows this apparent paradise can only be a creation of Satan, meant to tempt mankind from the worship of God. Except Church doctrine states that Satan cannot create. Ruiz-Sanchez must choose: accept an unthinkable heresy, or ignore what could very well be the Damnation of an increasingly psychotic human race.
Warning! Mild spoilers ahead!
Disclaimer the first: I returned this book to the library before writing this review (because I’m super smart like that), so any and all recollections are subject to the gross imperfections of my memory.
Disclaimer the second: I am not, nor have ever been, Catholic. I was raised in the Episcopal church and forced to read St. Augustine’s Confessions (which I threw across the room at least once whilst reading), so I have a decent grounding in Christian theology, but I come at this from the decidedly outsider perspective of a Pagan who tends to treat most of Christianity as a giant thought experiment.* Like Schrodinger’s Cat, except the zombie is the Son of God and not an adorable feline.**
Given the nature of the next few books on deck for the Hugo Project, now seemed an appropriate time to discuss Defensive Reading, otherwise known as How Myriad Manages to Finish These Things Without Throwing Them across the Room or Setting Them on Fire.
The thing about speculative fiction is that it’s…speculative. Which means, if it’s any good, that it deals with unusual ideas. What if, instead of X being true, !X were true? What if X continues to be true – wouldn’t it evolve into Y? Have you ever really looked at the implications of X? If you look at it this way, X is actually Z which could lead to Q!
Good speculative fiction stretches your brain, forcing you to question assumptions you didn’t even know you were making and look at the world through a completely different lens. This is a good thing. It can be a profoundly liberating thing. It can also be a profoundly uncomfortable thing.
Or a profoundly infuriating thing, if you disagree with 95% of what the author appears to be saying.
I had a good long talk with the GHMC tonight, which reminded me of the fact that one’s early twenties, as a general rule, are Not Terribly Much Fun. His haven’t been, mine haven’t been, most of my good friends’ haven’t been. We’re all fortunate enough to have roofs over our heads and food in our bellies, but being a young twenty-something in the US of A (or Canada) is the emotional equivalent of being trampled by elephants while drowning in cement.
Merry Mabon! Yes, I’m a few days late, but I am extra thankful because today I published my first knitwear design!
YOU GUYS I’M SO EXCITED I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF
Ahem. I also have a shiny new page for STK called, creatively, Designs. There’s only the one for now, but the number will grow! So, without further ado: a link to download the pattern and some pretty pictures!
Well, dear readers (hi FBI!), you came through for me so well this week, I thought I would share a few things that make me smile. Here are five, in no particular order:
This particular art lasted about six hours before a thunderstorm washed it away, but I kind of like the fleetingness of chalk art. Crazy Litha solar doodles are sort of a tradition for me. Extra geek points (like I needed them): I used two rocks and a string to trace out an ellipse for the edge of the Sun’s rays, and then a smaller circle centered at one of the foci for the main body of the sun. Because that’s just how I roll.
Every year for my birthday, Mom makes chicken tetrazzini and carrot cake. It is the best meal I eat all year.
Okay, so I didn’t get to spend the week at Gemini North (pictured). But I got to wrangle thirty-odd middle schoolers in Washburn, and we saw Saturn through the telescope and I could see the shadow of the rings on the planet and the shadow of the planet on the rings and the Cassini Division and three moon which J. looked up on his phone except I can’t remember which they were but I think they might have been Titan, Enceladus, and Tethys and IT WAS AWESOME. Seriously, telescopes make me feel so good I will never, ever need recreational drugs.
Pretty yarn in pretty projects
I’m embarking on an insane project to knit a Stargate afghan, better know as the Starghan. Yes, I realize I’ve completely lost my mind. BUT this yarn is knitting up beautifully for the event horizon, which is the easy bit (knit in a circle, adding 10 st every other round, ad nauseum). Eventually I have to get around to designing the Gate itself, but for now I’ll just watch my pretty blue circle grow.
ROSIE WHERE ARE YOU I WANT SNUGGLES. Not that I wasn’t just getting snuggles ten minutes ago; I just want more. [edit: she reappeared five minutes after I posted. Yay snuggles!]
Both my Litha and my birthday were full of smiles, thanks in large part to the affectionate notes from all of you. Thank you, thank you, once again, and may you continue to find reasons to smile!
First, I want to thank each of you who left a note. Between the 21(!) of you who left comments and Mitu’s blog post, I am feeling very loved. Your suggestions have definitely made me smile, a lot, and I’m having a lot of fun going through the list this week and trying to experience things. There has of course been much snuggling of cats and molesting of yarn (two popular suggestions), but maybe at some point I’ll tell you about my adventures with some of the other suggestions.
And the winners are…
Ciellel has won Calliope’s Odyssey by Rosemary (Romi) Hill!
PeppermintMochaMama has won the beautiful Vivian by Ysolda Teague!
Congratulations to you both! I expect to see gorgeous FOs in the future 🙂
Now off to enjoy the sunshine and celebrate LIFE!