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Would you like politics with that?

There’s been an interesting discussion over at Fantasy & SciFi Lovin’ News & Reviews this week about religion and politics in fiction (Hey! Your politics got into my science fiction).

The general consensus among those who commented is that they don’t necessarily mind if the author is making a statement about religion or politics, as long as they’re not using a sledgehammer to drive home the point.

I have to agree. Blatant manipulation is annoying. It also reflects a lack of imagination on an author’s part.

While narrative is undeniably a powerful tool to shift mindsets (more so, than say, a lecture or sermon), the true test of an effective thought-provoking story should be how it encourages the reader/viewer to think about a particular topic. As opposed to being told what to think.

Fantasy and sci fi are ripe for analogy and metaphor, which is why the best stories in those genres often tackle big issues (racism, slavery, climate change, deforestation… even before Avatar…). First and foremost, though, these stories have to be entertaining and engaging, with strong story arcs, solid mythologies and believable characters.  Nobody’s going to argue with that.

But it’s easy to rail against heavy-handed narratives when the themes grate against our own religious, political or philosophical views. I’ve wondered if my objection to stories with agendas is as strong if I happen to agree with a writer’s leanings.

I’d like to think I’d still demand an open-minded approach, but I suspect I’m probably more forgiving if I think it’s a message the world needs to hear.

Anyway, it’s a worthwhile discussion…


About paulaweston

I'm a writer. And a reader.

2 responses »

  1. I’m with you. It’s harder to be objective if you agree with the view being pushed. I’m not sure how this adds to the argument, I’m going to go ahead anyway. I don’t agree with Philip Pullman’s views, but I do agree with his right to throw questions at organised religion and their deities through fiction. I really liked the dark materials trilogy as a story and as a means to question my own beliefs. It’s clever, it’s exciting and he’s right to offer an alternative viewpoint. You’re right too. Spec fic and fantasy offer the room, call it freedom, to do this where it would be less acceptable in other genres.

  2. Pingback: A dark personal journey with Lilith Saintcrow « Other worlds

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