….But that does not make it irrelevant by any stretch of the imagination. Click the link to read more of this fascinating piece from Sci-Fi/Fantasy Grandmaster John C. Wright, readers!
Faith and Works in a Science Fictional Universe
Few men have ever hated Christ as much as I have, before turning to love Him. Before I was a Catholic, I was an atheist, and not an atheist who kept his opinions to himself, but a vituperative, proselytizing, aggressive, evangelist of atheism who sought at every opportunity to spread the Bad News that God was dead and Christians were fools.
But there was one area sacrosanct from my proselytizing effort. I did not use my science fiction stories to preach nor promote my worldview. I thought then that the honor of a gentleman, not to mention the pride of workmanship every craftsman should embrace, made it unseemly to preach my worldview when I was being paid to entertain. To use stories to spread my atheist views would be to impose on my customers, who came to me for a rollicking good space opera filled with exploding planets and colliding galaxies and stunning space princesses and stalwart space heroes. To give them a syllogism when they came for a space war, or an editorial when they came for an apocalypse, would cheat them of their hard-earned science fiction-buying dollar. To give them anything of the current world and its current controversies when they wished for escape into the future would be to play my beloved patrons false.
For I was one of those readers who oft had bought a book expecting a science fiction speculation and instead was forced to endure some rant about the issues that once upon a time absorbed the shallow attention of the intelligentsia. Since most of my reading consisted of books written twenty years before my time, I discovered that the only thing more boring than reading about the controversies of the day was reading about controversies long dead and written entirely by people long ago proved wrong.
Naturally, it was with considerable pride at my own cunning that I hid my personal opinions and paid attention only to the Muse, by which I mean I followed the needs of drama and ignored the itch to preach. Unlike other writers, as a newspaperman, I had an editorial page on which to scratch that itch to preach my opinionated opinions to the world.
When the Internet first came into my life, I assumed there was some danger that left-wing readers of mine would discover my journal and hence my opinions on the current issues of the day, but I hoped that I would gain more readers than I would lose, so I was never reluctant to share more strongly held beliefs on any topic.
In October 2003, the very first of my novels, The Golden Age, received its very first review. The reviewer excoriated the work, heaping every opprobrium on it, on the grounds that in the remote far future half a million years hence (which is when the story is set) the godlike beings who are our remotest descendants, commanding a technology which enables them to reorganize mind and matter and energy to any configuration at whim, did not seem at all concerned with environmentalism or racism or gender issues.
(I should mention that both race and sex were optional to the superbeings of this era, as was whether to have a physical body at all, and that death and extinction could be reversed, so that there were no endangered species and no non-artificial species.)
However, the more vexatious vehemence of the termagant reviewing the work was reserved for the climax. The fact that the hero won the heart of his estranged wife and had a second honeymoon was anathema to this particular critic. She did not criticize the plot, character development, word choice, or any other element of the craftsmanship. She took a personal detestation to me because I wrote about romance and marriage as if romance and marriage were good things. This particular critic hated love, romance, marriage, and all good things in life.