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Since finishing Too Like the Lightning, my mind has been burning up thinking about it. There are elements of the story that made me wonder if I wanted to read further in the series, but after a few days, I can say yes, I do, in part because I want to see what the author’s going to do with those elements.

I thought I could talk here about three things the book brought up for me. Maybe parcel them out over a few entries. Those three things are (1) Flavors of Divinity; Or, What Makes a God? (2) Will a Powerful Enough Computer Result in Unerring Predictions? And (3) Asking the Wrong Questions: Yet Another Asakiyume Rant on the Trolley Problem.

So this entry is for (1). In lots of stories, a god is basically a being who’s much more powerful than your ordinary human. Gods often also rule over and/or protect some collection of ordinary humans—and sometimes menace others. They’re like people, only with higher stats. As the witch says in The Silver Chair, “You have seen lamps, and so you imagined a bigger and better lamp and called it the sun. You’ve seen cats, and now you want a bigger and better cat, and it’s to be called a lion.”—same with gods.

Sometimes a deity’s motivations and thought processes are inscrutable, but usually, when we’re talking about these stat-enhanced creatures, they’re very, very easy to scrute.

But in some fiction, the gods are ineffable, mystical. The story may not specify how powerful they are, because that’s not where the interest is; the gods are there for wisdom and communion. This type of god may be intimate with humans or may be remote, but whatever the nature of the relationship, they’re definitely not simply more-better mortals.

I can enjoy stories with either type of god in it but what I don’t think I like very much is mixing the two; I guess I have an instinct I’m not going to like the two flavors together, so to speak? ETA--maybe because it represents two different kinds of worldbuilding? Or two different types of thinking on divinity?

But I’m also thinking maybe I’ve got too restrictive a taxonomy here. Maybe there are other, different ways of depicting gods in stories that are neither of these two and not just a mixing of them, either.

So… that’s one thing I’m curious about, going forward in the Terra Ignota series.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/891608.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
zyzyly
Aug. 15th, 2018 04:58 pm (UTC)
I don't recall reading too many stories with gods in them, good, bad, or otherwise. The one I do recall was American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and I enjoyed that much more than I expected. His gods seemed flawed, but they had a sort of mystical quality to them that set them apart. Both accessible and inaccessible.

This book series sounds intriguing. I just started another trilogy--Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars series, but will order the first book in this series so I won't forget about it.

I pretty much stopped reading for a few years, but this year I have started up again, and and it is bringing me joy.
asakiyume
Aug. 15th, 2018 05:17 pm (UTC)
Reading takes a surprising amount of time and concentration, doesn't it! I've realized to my chagrin that I do a lot less of it than many of my friends on social media, which is why it takes me a while to finish stuff. But like you, I'm doing more recently, and like you, it's bringing me lots of joy.

I want to read American Gods someday.
zyzyly
Aug. 17th, 2018 07:42 pm (UTC)
I used to dedicate the last 45 minutes or so of my day to reading for pleasure. I started that when I was in nursing school. Now I'm doing that again, though most evenings I only last for about 20-30 minutes.

American Gods is one of those books that I had heard about for years, but never had any desire to read. I don't remember why I eventually decided to pick it up, but it was such a good story.
heleninwales
Aug. 15th, 2018 07:27 pm (UTC)
I'm very slow at reading fiction these days. I used to devour books, but politics is eating all my mental energy at the moment. I even started to think that fiction has just stopped working for me, but every so often a book will grab me and some of the old enthusiasm returns.

Regarding gods, I quite liked the gods in Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion series and, more recently, the nature god in Juliet E McKenna's The Green Man's Heir. They are sensed by characters in the book but are not too tangible.
asakiyume
Aug. 15th, 2018 07:50 pm (UTC)
I think fiction can stop working for people; I've heard that from people. I'm glad sometimes a good book can still light a spark for you.

They are sensed by characters but are not too tangible. --Yeah, I think less can definitely be more when portraying gods.
yamamanama
Aug. 19th, 2018 01:54 am (UTC)
I have Seven Surrenders and I'll probably read that soon.

In works with gods, I prefer the inscrutable kind.
asakiyume
Aug. 19th, 2018 04:43 am (UTC)
I'm going to read it soon.

--So have you read Too Like the Lightning?
yamamanama
Aug. 19th, 2018 06:01 am (UTC)
Yeah, last year.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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