Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"What? You have souls in your books? But you're an atheist! TRAITOR!"

So, I was pootling about online a few days ago, and ended up chatting to someone who'd read Messiah's Shard, the first book in the Cynos Union series. It turned out to be an interesting conversation, not least because I think said person was a bit annoyed with me. Y'see, that person was a little bit baffled why I decided to make souls a thing that explicitly exist in my story universe, when I don't even marginally believe in them in the real world. They expressed that bafflement by calling me a traitor to the cause.

Naturally, this confused me somewhat, 'cos I didn't realise I even had a cause. Well... other than spinning the odd whimsy here and there, and trying to get people to read my books, of course, but being a writer, that's kinda my job description. Oh, and the word 'apologist' might have happened, as well...

It was an odd thing to be called, especially when I'd taken great pains to fit the idea of souls into the way I actually think about the universe (evidence trumps everything, so I was determined to have souls in my books be things that can be studied, analysed and measured; plus, it allowed me to explain away things like telepathy in the koetaani, and do a nicely twisted take-down of the idea of soulmates).

Anyway, here's what I think is the root of the problem: I honestly believe that some people have trouble separating reality from fiction. Y'see, I've seen an argument used before, which states that viewing or reading fictional thingummies at a young age, things like fairy tales, and fantasy, make it harder for people to be rational in later life. As reported by The Telegraph at the time, for instance, Richard Dawkins talked about the possibility that something like Harry Potter could have a bit of a pernicious effect on the development of a rational mind, what with the kid in question being taught to believe in wizards and magic.

Whether I agree with that or not (and for the record, I don't, based purely on my gut instinct and nothing else), it's one thing to say that kids' books could have that effect, but it's quite another to suggest that a science fiction novel emphatically aimed at adults would have the same effect.

If pushed, though, I'd probably have to admit that it'd probably have a stronger effect, since kids are smarter than adults...

Anyway, yes. Fiction. Reality. Very definitely not the same thing. Stop confusing the two, please. I've no intention of starting a religion based around my own books, so calm yerself down, eh? I mean, y'know, I do kinda specify in-universe that there's no actual deity or god in the world of the Cynos.

Well, not yet, anyway...

Y'know, I often wonder why people get so stroppy about people who happen to believe something different to what they themselves believe. I mean yes, there are some things that are so completely ludicrous that it boggles my mind when people are able to say them with a straight face, but if that's their belief system, and they're not forcing it on other people, who cares?

Yes, I completely understand the need to keep woo far, far away from things like science lessons and the military, and these are things we should never, ever stop fighting to achieve, but when you get down to a personal level, who gives a chuff which version of the almighty skybeard someone believes in? We're all just people, trying to make our way in the world, and if someone else believes in something I don't, then fair enough.

Now organised religion, though, that can jog on, as can any belief system that makes it okay to gleefully murder everyone else.

But that's a story for another book, quite possibly the one I'm writing now...

The ever-expanding and growing Cynos Union Series is available to buy now! Subscribe for more news from the world (and brain) of Mark W. Bonnett!

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