Monday, May 23, 2005

Use the Force...

I wish that I liked Orson Scott Card more, really I do. He's a darling of the sci-fi/fantasy genre. I've read some of his books, and even really liked a few of them. My particular favorite was Hart's Hope, and I read all of the Alvin Maker series. (Don't get too excited about the commitment because if they put stories on the back of my corn flakes I would read all of those, too.) I even have his autograph from when he came to our Virginia Festival of the Book. He was an entertaining speaker. But I've never been able to make it past a few pages of Ender's Game. There is a vague but insistent arrogance running under the voice of his work that irritates me.

On my first reading I found that voice very present in his essay "No Faith in This Force", a review of the religious implications of Lucas' films, "Revenge of the Sith" in particular.
Many had obviously memorized all the howlingly bad lines. They began laughing out loud just before the line was said, and applauded at the wretched “emotional” moments in the movie.

But then, walking out of the theater, they fiercely defended the movie against anyone who dared to speak against it. It might be badly written, but it’s their badly written movie.
Thanks, Orson. We love you, too. If we just replace 'movie' with 'book' then you have defined how I feel about all of your Ender's Game fans. There, how does that feel?

He does make some points about moral relativism, but he doesn't follow up with any clear logical or ethical arguments about it. Mostly he seems to be questioning why people (real people) call themselves Jedi. On their Census form, for instance. In conclusion he says:
So if a religion is known to be fictional, trains its exclusive practitioners to be killing machines, and doesn’t actually work in the real world, why do people call themselves Jedi?
Well, gosh. Could it be... no, let me think. Yes, it's true.....

Because we're BIG OLD GEEKS! It makes us laugh! We are entertained! In a time where there are so many disappointments with organized religion it is a way of poking fun! Are there seriously disturbed people who take it more seriously than they should? NO DOUBT! That's true about anything! There are just as many nutball Christians as there are role players or Jedis or Department Store Santas. Every group has it's nuts.

The only positive thing I have to say about Mr. Card's essay is that it is a also a bit of a poke at Scientology. "It’s one thing to put your faith in a religion founded by a real person who claimed divine revelation, but it’s something else entirely to have, as the scripture of your religion, a storyline that you know was made up by a very nonprophetic human being." Take that, Tom Cruise.

Oh, and remind me to claim divine revelation later this week. I'll pencil it in. I didn't realize that I just had to claim divine revelation to be taken seriously as a religious leader. That is different from artistic inspiration how? Wait, no, don't confuse me with the facts.

Mostly, though, I just hope that Kevin Smith (aka Silent Bob) writes a retort. Wise in the ways of the Force, he is.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Sidhe Walks In Beauty

The Rock Rag, November 2003
Cover Article "Here Sidhe Comes"

by Colin Graham

This interviewer had a chance to sit down with the rock band “Sidhe Walks In Beauty” before the kick-off of the North American tour for their album “Unseelie Court”. In case you’ve been living under a mushroom cap while this British sensation has taken off, Sidhe is pronounced “Shee” and is the Gaelic word for fey or fairy.

I met the three guy, one girl band at New York’s swank Casablanca Hotel. Leanan looked amazing in a little flowing blue number, while the boys Pooka, Spriggan and Boggie were all decked out in black grunge finery. The first thing I asked was, of course, “Why Sidhe?”

Spriggan replied, “Why the [expletive] do you [expletive] think, you [expletive]? We’re [expletive] fey!”

Leanan broke in with her usual charm, “And the band name is a reference to a Lord Byron poem. Since Byron is a personal friend it seemed like a nice tribute.” (When I mentioned that Byron had been dead for some time the band reassured me that he was in fact enjoying time with some friends at a fairie ring in Northern Ireland where time passes slowly and was in quite good health.)

Pooka, who had been glowering at me, spoke up. “We looked at those rock bands tearing up their hotel rooms, luring young people away from their homes to follow them, having sex with everyone within five feet of them, and we thought, what a rip-off! We’ve been acting like that for thousands of years and now some mortal brats are going to come along and make money at it? [Expletive]!”

Of course, over the years there has been the odd fairy to gain popularity in entertainment. Bryan Ferry, the son of a dryad, was a 1980s pop sensation and right now Tina Fey, a nymph, does the news on Saturday Night Live.

When I asked her about this, Leanan mused, “Tina has done a good job of toning down her natural allure. There is a real pressure as a sidhe where you wonder if you can make it without your glamour – if you can just succeed on your own hard work.”

Well, it’s certain that this great band is making it on their own hard work. Check out Sidhe Walks in Beauty coming soon to a town near you!

(c) 2003, Sue London, – November 2003 Bad Fairy Challenge for the Science Fiction Writer's Online Writer's Workshop