In co-ordination with the good folks over at EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing—and as a small part of their online event 18 Days of Tesseracts (September 18 to October 7, more information here)—I hereby present Part Six of the interview series Writing Gods, featuring email chats with a number of the many authors who’ve contributed to EDGE’s newest (and eighteenth[!]) Tesseracts anthology Wrestling with Gods.
Today’s interviewee: Steve Stanton
Steve Stanton writes science fiction novels from a riverfront retreat near Washago, ON. His short stories have been published in sixteen countries in a dozen languages. His novels include the Bloodlight Chronicles trilogy and the upcoming Freenet.
Tell us about your story, “Soul Survivors.”
On the last human ark over a century after launch from Earth, the Captain’s daughter, Rebeka Elsigard Spinoza, begins to hear mysterious spiritual music emanating from an approaching object in space, which she interprets as dangerous and demonic.
How did your story come about?
The inspiration for the protagonist comes from the French heroine, Joan of Arc, who experienced prophetic visions and was burned at the stake in 1431 at nineteen years of age, later canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.
What is it about so-called “genre” writing that makes it such an effective avenue for theological discussions?
The SF genre has an insidious nature as a vehicle for social commentary because controversial ideas are safely ensconced behind a filmy gauze of literary innocence. My early attraction to writing science fiction arose from using allegory to examine metaphysical or theological questions, which culminated in my sci-fi trilogy, The Bloodlight Chronicles.
When writing about theological subjects, do you ever worry about upsetting someone?
I make it my goal as an author to upset as many people as possible. An unexamined faith is not worth holding, and a closed mind is an exercise in futility, so I try to pose metaphysical thought-experiments to challenge the reader.I make it my goal as an author to upset as many people as possible. An unexamined faith is not worth holding, and a closed mind is an exercise in futility, so I try to pose metaphysical thought-experiments to challenge the reader. I’m always going for the sense of wonder, or the paradigm shift, trying to squeeze blood out of stone.
If there is something beyond this reality, what do you hope happens post-life?
The greatest hope for humans from primitive times is to experience some sort of bodily resurrection from the grave. In my view, the problem of death gave birth to religion as early self-aware minds contemplated their eventual demise. This hope of physical continuance had full expression during the historic reign of the Egyptian kings, who buried money, cattle and servants for the afterlife, and we see evidence of similar thinking in many primitive cultures. In modern culture, this idea has morphed into a loose belief in a collective consciousness in which we all take part during life and return to after death, so the great hope nowadays is for some sort of spiritual extension rather than a bodily one. My new novel, Freenet, imagines the uploading of human consciousness into a vast machine interface, and explores the possibility of digital immortality and the birth of a communal sentience with psychic powers.