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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

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.

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