Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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dogemperor [userpic]
Fascinating concepts in sci-fi novels based on possible Fundie Dominionism in the future:

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]jhfurnish)


'Julian' Is Set In Depleted America

Multiple-award-winning SF author Robert Charles Wilson, whose novella "Julian: A Christmas Story" is a current finalist for both the Hugo Award and the Theodore Sturgeon Award, told SCI FI Wire that the story takes place in an oil-depleted and depopulated future America in which the Union has 60 states.

"Julian Comstock is the nephew of the reigning president, who fears Julian might become a competitor; Adam Hazzard is Julian's 'leasing class' friend and the narrator of the story," Wilson said in an interview. "A conscription drive for the War in Labrador takes aim at Julian, and Adam has to make some stark decisions about whether to defend his friend or remain loyal to his hometown of Williams Ford."

The narrator, Adam, is an aspiring author but very much a product of his rural environment, Wilson said. "[He's from] a small town run by an elite Eastern family and controlled by the Church of the Dominion," he said. "Julian, on the other hand, was raised in Manhattan, a cultural Mecca even in an age of oil depletion and coal technology, and he introduces Adam to new—and deeply troubling—concepts such as evolution and the history of space travel."

The most unusual thing about the story is the voice in which it's written, Wilson said. "Adam's voice, which is really the old American voice, [is] humble but unbowed, instinctively ironic, gullible and skeptical at the same time," he said.

In order to adopt a perspective of 150 or so years in the future, Wilson immersed himself in American literature and history from the latter part of the 19th century, he said. "What I was asking myself was: How much and how profoundly does a culture change over the course of a century and a half?" Wilson said. "And how can I write that degree of change into a depleted, radically unraveled world like Julian's?"

The character Adam represents the side of Wilson that wants to trust people and take them at their word—and that runs the risk of getting gulled from time to time, Wilson said. "Julian Comstock, by contrast, is my inner atheist: skeptical, perhaps, to the point of condescension, but aware of the intricate complexity of nature and evolution," he said.

The story grew out of Wilson's desire to write about the prospect of climate change and resource depletion, along with the potential dominance of a political-religious hierarchy in a post-collapse America, he said. "[Also,] my own discovery of 19th-century American children's literature and such now-forgotten authors as William Taylor Adams," he said. "There is also, of course, the real-life story of the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate, who tried to overturn Constantine's conversion of the empire to Christianity. [The story] loosely follows the historical precedent."

"Julian: A Christmas Story" is available now from PS Publishing as a stand-alone volume, but Wilson is currently working on expanding the story into a novel, he said. —John Joseph Adams