Writing Gods w/Steve Stanton

Wrestling with Gods, Tesser­acts 18

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

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.