18 Days of Tesseracts: The ALL-OVER the Net Event

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Join us as we celebrate the Tesseracts anthologies of the past, present and the future.

The Wrestling With Gods (Tesseracts 18) blog will be hosting 18 different guestblogs by the authors of stories that deal with faith that have appeared in the Tesseracts series.  Come every day to read a new post in a discussion of Faith in Scifi and fantasy with leanings towards craft. You might be reading craft-leaning blogposts on how an author tackled faith elements in their writing, or how their story reflects other stories/ novels that have had a similar faith element and how they all tackled that element–tying their story into the larger longer conversation scifi and fantasy is having about spiritual issues.  You might also find tips on how YOU might better incorporate spiritual elements into your writing using a story from Tesseracts–or several– as an example(s).

Each blogpost will tie a Tesseracts story in with the larger conversation that scifi and fantasy has been having with faith, and hopefully will give you, our readers, an insight on craft, and, of course, a way to celebrate the stories and poems in the Wrestling with Gods: Tesseracts 18 anthology.

We will also be tying each of our author’s guest blogposts in with their interview on Corey Redekop‘s blog where he interviews the different authors about their stories–making our blogs complement the ones on his site, we hope, in a cool way.

On the 18 Days of Tesseracts Event Page:

Tesseracts of the Past – on this event page, and on the EDGE Facebook Page, they will be featuring Tesseracts one through 17 and Tesseracts Q over the various days. Learn who the editors were, and the contributing authors. If you are an author of one of these anthologies, feel free to tell them about your contribution.  If you are a fan—you’ll learn about ALL the Tesseracts anthologies appearing above in that splendid montage of Tesseractses.

Tesseracts of the Present – For the 18 Days of Tesseracts we will hosting offline and online events, and doing various blog posts and interviews. This page will be the source of all information, so join up and keep up to date as to what is happening on this page. We will post updates as we go along. Watch the top pinned post for the schedule.

Tesseracts of the Future – we will get further updates from Superhero Universe. Learn what is new and happening in their Superhero world…AND we will be announcing the editors for Tesseracts 20.

And finally.. October 7th join us for an online Tesseracts Meet and Greet party for all who have loved this series, or who have contributed as an editor or author. This event will happen here on October 7 throughout the day and evening. No matter what the time, drop by and introduce yourself, and post a question for people to answer.

So….if you are an author, an editor or a fan of the Tesseracts anthologies, please join the event, and invite everyone you know. Lets see how far we can spread this invitation.  Share the FACEBOOK event with everyone!  Then come back and see what we have for you here, and elsewhere on the web!

Thanks for joining us for the 18 Days of Tesseracts…
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Speculating Canada Interviews Editor, Jerome Stueart, about Wrestling With Gods

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trent-radio-icon-headphones-1Our friends over at Speculating Canada have been doing a wonderful set of reviews of Wrestling With Gods—and I’ll link to more of them in another post—but here is a recent interview Derek Newman-Stille did with me about the anthology.

On this episode of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio, I interview author and editor Jerome Stueart about the most recent book in the long-lived Tesseracts series Tesseracts Eighteen: Wrestling with Gods. Tesseracts Eighteen is focused on the theme of religion in Canadian speculative fiction and Jerome and I discuss the relationship between religion and SF, myth and storytelling and their ability to shape religious and science fictional worlds, invented religions, new explorations of existing religions, and generally the power of stories as pedagogy, as a teaching and learning medium.

We conducted our interview outside in Toronto, so please excuse the background wind and noise distortions.

You can listen to this episode of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio at the link below.

Hear the Interview here

Gambling with Belief: Revealing Character through Religious Advisors, Prophets and Fanatics

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Game-of-Thrones-Season-5-game-of-thrones-38264756-4500-2994[SPOILERS if you have not yet seen last Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode “Dance of Dragons”]

Sunday’s Game of Thrones shocked many with its depiction of a father who decides to sacrifice his only daughter and heir to his name in order to Win the Throne.  George RR Martin may not have put it in his books yet—but he did tell the showrunners, DB Weiss and Dan Benioff, that this was definitely coming.  I don’t want to address the level of violence in the show.  I think its characters are appropriate to their world.  We have seen beheadings, slayings, burnings, stabbings, as well as rape, mutilation, etc. from good and bad characters.  This is the world Martin has written, so by those rules this is how our characters react to crisis and achieve goals.  It is profound then that level, compassionate heads are in short supply these days (and being mounted on spikes every season).  I count Tyrion, Doran, Jon, Samwell, Varys, Margeary, Olenna, and a handful of others as being the people I would listen to if I lived in Game of Thrones.  The Hound and Dario might have the most practical means of getting through this world alive, but I wouldn’t want to become them, so I wouldn’t want them as advisors.

Who one listens to—having good advisors—is a form of power, no different than a Valyrian sword, I will say.  We all cheered when Dany and Tyrion met because, frankly, Dany could use some good advisors. Her decisions have been erratic–as she seeks to maintain power in a desperately sinking cultural situation.

I want to highlight three “gods” or specifically, three “speakers” for their gods who have become either advisors or powerful people themselves, and ask questions about the ideas that Martin brings out (or the showrunners highlight).  I want to look at how an author might use religion or faith in his or her work to mirror, echo, or highlight something in our own culture.

* * *

The High Sparrow, Melissandre and Jaquen all follow their respective gods–but they also determine what messages of those gods get heard and acted upon.  Being the spokesperson for a “god” comes with advantages.  No one can question you because YOU alone have the red phone to your god–so you can interpret which sins to go after, who to confront, how to judge, and what to do.

Also the Authority for these spokespeople rests not in Kings or Queens but in the god that only you can interpret… and which has no accountability. As bad as Kings and Queens are–there are ways to get them out of power.  There are ways to make them responsible for their crimes.  (As we see in Westeros though, fair courts haven’t been invented yet.)

Gods utilise armies and weapons.  Cersei armed the Faith Militant.  We can all agree that arming the Faith Militant was a stupid move for Cersei: faith-driven people with weapons do not make a reasonable or controllable group.  Jaquen and the Faceless Men have poison–but they are hired by people.  Melissandre has fire and magic (but also Stannis’ army to back her up).  Each group has a weapon and an army to enforce their will–er, um…their god’s will–but they need outside help: High Sparrow needed Cersei to arm them; Jaquen needs to be hired; Melissandre needs Stannis’ army.

Read the rest of this entry

Robots Will Choose to Become Christian

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CC91uxSWIAA0CNeWell, Derwin Mak, I thought of you when I saw this piece from Huffington Post on posthumanism in the church—the building of robots to spread the word of God.  Somebody thinks robots will be the future of religion, especially of pastors/ priests.

So, Derwin Mak’s “Mecha-Jesus” (part of Wrestling With Gods) is a story about a robot built to be Jesus in a Shinto shrine.  It’s comedy, mostly, but the profound questions sneak up on you.  If we get the details on Jesus wrong—can he still be divine?  What would it take to convince you that this Jesus is real?

I got a Philip K. Dick feeling when I thought about that–about the replicants and about how much they just wanted to integrate into society without being noticed.  It’s their story.  In Mak’s story, it’s easily both the Story of Jesus and of two skeptics come to the shrine to see Jesus.  They both bring, in a sense, their own expectations.  It’s got a Bradbury-ness to it too.

So, what would Robots do with religion?  Here’s an excerpt from the HuffPost Religion article:

If your first thought when you hear “robot preacher” is the Preacherbot character from the popular TV show Futurama, we don’t blame you. But for Florida pastor Christopher Benek, robot preachers are an undeniable reality… or at least they will be in the near future.

If, as Christian theology explains, humans are created in God’s likeness, then, Benek told The Huffington Post, “it would make sense that we [too] would be able to create something that has autonomy.”

Benek holds a Doctor of Ministry in theology and science from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and espouses a Christian form of transhumanism — the notion that humanity can be enhanced through the development of new technologies. He appeared in a March 15 episode of “The Daily Show” to discuss his ideas about the future of artificial intelligence and faith.

“If you have the ability to process all of the information on Earth instantaneously, you could write a pretty good sermon,” he told “The Daily Show”‘s Jordan Klepper. “The hope would be beings who essentially lead us to a new path of holiness.”

Robot preachers would naturally work toward peace and justice, Benek told HuffPost, because their intelligence would surpass that of humans; they would be able to make autonomous decisions based on all of the information available to them. They also wouldn’t have the emotional and mental limitations even the most well-intentioned humans have. “We’re limited from a standpoint of intelligence,” the pastor said. “We’re not exponentially growing in the way this being would be.”

Imagine a pastor who could “use the inflection and verbal prowess of a Billy Graham or a Martin Luther King and the compassion of Mother Teresa,” he theorized, and do all this on the fly. “That would allow people’s needs to be met because a lot of times we pastors can’t do that,” Benek said.

But it isn’t just a theoretical exercise for the pastor — it’s a reality that churches need to be realistic about. Technology is increasing exponentially, and religious leaders should embrace this growth. “If they fail to do so they isolate themselves and their congregants from what’s going on in society,” he argued. “And Christ calls us to be involved in society.”

The Daily Show interviewed this man–part of an interview with two pastors–both trying to reboot Christianity for the 21st Century.  One makes it hip and inked and rock based; the other goes for robots.

Best Line from the video from the Daily Show, “We’re talking robots who are exponentially more intelligent than you or I and they would choose to become Christians.”  The reporter–a comedian who has been handed a gift in this interview, tries to still keep his composure, “You mean, robots given higher thought, they will choose Christianity?”

“I think that’s a reasoned argument.”

From here, it’s open season on the poor pastor who deemed Robots are our future.  Watch it for yourself at this link. 

Would you think a robot would be an improvement on modern religion?  Why or why not?

Writing Courageously Through the Lenten Season

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abstract trees grass sacred skyscapes photomanipulations 2560x1600 wallpaper_www.wallpaperhi.com_54Writing is a Sacred tradition in many cultures.  We revere the books that come from these cultures.  It’s also a very sacrificial act, one that takes a lot of courage, honesty, and time.  I’d like to talk about writing during Lent.

Traditionally, Lent gives some 46 days to prepare for Easter, a time of preparation for Christians for the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the cross (and the subsequent cool resurrection part).  The idea was that you were not just shocked, surprised, pleased, and quickly through Easter, but that you could think –over 46 days– about the impact this one act of self-sacrifice did for your faith.  It’s mirrored in some ways by Advent.

But whereas Advent is about preparing for joy–a baby, a baby! Lent is about preparing for death and transition.

Christians often give up something for Lent–so that whenever they crave it, they will think of what Christ gave up for them.  Chocolate and Life are not comparable; however, the idea is to be aware of the season through this sacrifice.  Call it the best mindfulness exercise the Christians have come up with yet.

That said, whether you are Christian or not, we can take the Lenten Season to think about Faith, and perhaps, write about it.  Or at least ask ourselves to write with more courage, more honesty, and more faith than we have in the past.

Writers are plagued with insecurity and negative thoughts.  Let’s put those on the altar of Lent and say, hey, no more of these.  We are afraid sometimes of writing our Truth and giving it to others.  And we often have a lack of faith in our own abilities and ideas.

Lent leads us up to celebrating Life from Death.  I don’t want to co-opt Jesus’s very big moment, but he too had a very big mission, and it got harder and harder to be honest, to be courageous and to follow through on what his mission was.

What I want to do is to ask writers to write for 46 days– science fiction, fantasy, memoir, essay, poetry–and write with more courage, more honesty and more faith than you ever have before.  I also challenge you to write a little about faith.

It’s important for us as writers to believe in ourselves and our writing, to give up negative thoughts and insecurities, preparing our hearts to more honestly talk about Life.  There is a lot of struggling that goes on in writing if we are to be honest–and struggling with being honest–and so, for 46 days, let the honesty flow.  Be yourself.  Be creative.  Be courageous. Be honest.  GIVE UP negative thoughts that question YOUR mission, and Create and GIVE something honest and courageous to the world.

FEB 2: Facebook Chat with Authors, 99 Cent Sale on Kindle edition

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T-18-Cover-270x417-100dpi-C8Hey Folks,

Wanted to let you know that on February 2 we’re going to unveil the Table of Contents for the anthology Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts 18.  On that day, on a special Facebook page, you can chat with authors and party with us as we celebrate all things Wrestling with Gods.  You can also purchase on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca the Kindle edition for 99 cents.  So if you’ve been dying to read the stories and want to get the anthology for less than a buck, come on over on FEB 2 to this special event.

Please go on over to the Facebook page and join this amazing event!  We’ll see you there on February 2nd!

It’s our little Groundhog Day fun….

Humans with God Complexes: Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, Hindu Gods, Buddhism, and Enforced Karma

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Here at Tess 18’s blogsite, we’re still just gathering books and articles for you to read in your quest for understanding ways of making faith and religion a part of your science fiction or fantasy.

rz_lordoflightA nice review of Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light is over at Tethyan Books.  It highlights the problems inherent when someone uses religion or faith to keep power.  This time it’s Hinduism, but any religion will do as a billy club.  Not all faiths have to be ways of keeping power–but often they are.

From Allie McCarn’s review:

“A group of humans with impressive technology have colonized an alien planet.  With the ability to reincarnate into new bodies, the original colonists live long lives and populate the world with multitudes of their children. 

However, rather than raise these citizens of the new world to their standard of living, many of the powerful want to maintain their own dominance.  In the guise of shepherding an unready population, they impede the development of technology among their subjects, and tightly control the means of reincarnation. They model themselves after the Hindu pantheon, and manipulate the population through their enforcement of a system of ‘karma’.

A threat to their control comes from one of the first colonists, a man named Sam.  To many, he is a great religious leader and a legend—the Buddha of this new world—though others see him for a fraud.  For all of those who wish to bring down the Lords of Karma, though, he may be the only hope.” ~Allie

The rest of her thoughts on the book can be found here.