Thursday, January 15, 2009

Apologists do not make good sci fi authors

Last weekend on "The Non-Prophets," Matt read part of a a right wing Christian screed entitled "Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America." At the time, I remember being much more interested in picking apart the literary shortcomings of the letter than worrying about the specific paranoid delusions of the author.

For instance, the entire first page of the letter is an introduction explaining what he is trying to do. Writing no-no number one. Show, don't tell. If you have to explain what your writing MEANS, you've already failed as an author. Shilling pointed out that he was writing for a fairly dumb target audience who might not get the conceit. Even so, you have to be fairly dense to read a letter from 2012 and not understand that it is fiction.

Reading it again, there is another thing I wish I had said as well. Who the hell is the person supposed to be writing to? Is it another person in 2012? If so, why is he rattling off a bullet list of things which would presumably be common knowledge to everyone living there? Is it a person from another country? It seems to contain so much sappy patriotism that anybody receiving it would probably dismiss it. Unless they're an American overseas, which again raises the question of why they didn't know this stuff already.

Or is the author a time traveler, who somehow knowingly sent the message back in time to warn our ignorant past selves? That makes more sense, but I skipped to the end to read the sign-off. It says: "I still believe God is sovereign over all history, and though I don’t know why he has allowed these events, it is still his purpose that will ultimately be accomplished." That doesn't sound at all like your usual sign-off for a supposed ghost of Christmas future visitation. Not "You can still change all this! Vote for McCain!" but "I don't understand how this happened." If he doesn't think he can change history, why did he write the letter?

Is it too much to ask that the author think about a genre and a writing style, and then write something that makes some small amount of sense within that genre? Sigh.


  1. You read that "again"?? I could barely stomach a single, quick, pass over it. Thanks, I guess. :-)

    To me, it's just another looong whine about what the author considers proper moral stance. Obviously many disagree. Sure, it's good to understand other perspectives, but pffft. Not worth the time.

    As always, kutgw.

  2. I second Isherwood's sentiment. Giving equal rights to gays and lesbians and forcing others to respect those rights is unfair and unconstitutional? Someone hasn't read the 14th Amendment.

    Except for the parts about military policy and economics, that sounds like a near-utopia. I can't wait.

  3. That entire letter is so far removed from reality that I hesitate to even refer to it as science fiction. ;-)

    It certainly seems that the author would prefer to have society ruled by Biblical law instead of rationality and common sense. From the absurd charicatures given as examples of "what will come" to the dogmatic preaching of "Oh, poor Christians," the entire letter was like wandering into a room with Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rick Warren, Bill O'Reilly, and Sarah Palin talking about a perfect government. ;-)

  4. @Dan Gilbert
    Thanks a lot, now I'm going to have nightmares about that. "We need a theocracy, you betcha!"


  5. @Reynold
    That was absolutely horrific. Clicking on the "cast of characters" link was even worse! Basically said that all liberals, (classified as non-believers, as far as I could tell) didn't get "raptured", they're all god-hating assholes, and anyone that's a christian is sent to a detention center and detained/killed for their religion.

    Scary stuff that people are so enthusiastic about that stuff. Yikes.

  6. Are you going to keep that piece of drivel lying around and bring it out again in late 2012, to check how many of the predictions came true?

    You may want to burn a copy to CD, or whichever medium you think is most likely to be obsolete by 2012.

  7. Oh yeah, I remember that... it came out in October. Yeah, it was a "Don't Vote For OBAMA!!!" scare thing, and it was put out by Focus on the Family.


    I didn't think so.


  8. And...

    Before any Christians bring up Lewis' SPACE TRILOGY as reasonably good sci-fi from an apologist... go back and read the books.

    They're space-FANTASY; not sci-fi.

  9. The most striking part to me when I read that is that I, personally, thought that the imagined America of 2012, the one that is supposed to be SOOO AWFUL, sounds rather great. There are some iffy bits, most of them being part of the standard persecution fantasy so can be discounted anyway.

    I also think it's funny that they even misinterpret imaginary court rulings with hysterical overreaction -- I'm sure that even in the fantasy world, it's not that public school teachers can't lead their classes in the Pledge of Allegiance, but merely that the words "under God" can't be included.

  10. Horribly written. Couldn't get past much of it, even for entertainment value. Writer has no grasp of how to create flow.


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