Sunday, January 31, 2016

Five top books about imaginary religions

Michael W. Clune is a professor of English at Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of the scholarly books American Literature in the Free Market and Writing Against Time, and the memoirs titled White Out: The Secret Life of Heroin and Gamelife. One of his five favorite books about imaginary religions, as shared at
Neal Asher, Dark Intelligence

There are two basic ways to be against religion. You can think religion is bad because it holds humans back from fulfilling their great potential. Or you can think religion is bad because it shows how humans are bad, petty, deluded creatures, incorrigibly prone to doing very stupid things. Asher is the second kind of anti-religion writer. The utopian side of his Polity universe is ruled by benign A.I.’s. The dark side, explored by this novel, takes place in a demilitarized zone between the AI and human Polity, and a voracious, warmongering empire of giant alien insects known as the Prador. A kind of religion has sprung up among some of the human inhabitants of this zone, focused on worshipping and imitating the Prador. Adherents engage in incredibly costly and debilitating body modification surgery to look more like the beings they imitate, and flock to a world rumored to contain a buried Prador ship. The Prador themselves, meanwhile, absolutely loathe all humans, and delight in killing them. A subplot shows the benevolent AI’s trying to save some of the Prador worshippers from the murderous instincts of their gods. If you’ve always kind of thought that Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” was a great sci fi premise, then Asher is the writer for you.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue