Thursday, July 15, 2010

Reflections On The MetaGame

Sam Landstrom published his novel, MetaGame, in 2009. I read it because I'm a SciFi geek, and frankly, because it was free.

They say you should write what you know. Sam's bio says he enjoys molecular biology, programming, D&D, water sports, and snowboarding. Sam has written a novel about molecular biology, programming, D&D, and water sports. To be fair to Sam, however, there is nothing in the book about snowboarding.

The story has a fairly predictable story arc of love and redemption. Although it would be more accurate to say "purity of purpose, clarity of mind, and an altruistic intent".

As for redemption, it has a completely different meaning. The book borrows heavily from Christian symbols but imbues them with completely different and secularized meanings: angels are law enforcers, demons are those who break the Rules. Love and responsibility are divorced, actions and morality aren't even speaking to each other. Everyone is caught up in trying to score points in the Game which is the social, economic, and religious engine of this centralized economy.

God doesn't really exist in this world, but there is an OverSoul.
"[T]he OverSoul was indeed inspired by Christianity. Hardly surprising since it was the most widespread religion before The OverSoul."

"[T]he nature of the OverSoul, she is not actually a single being, but a collection of billions of agents, ourselves included.”

"Pillars of Godhead: power over life and death, effective rulership, prayer fulfillment, Omnipotent knowledge, the ability to learn.

“Because change is a constant. Even if, theoretically, a mind could be made perfect for the conditions of today, sooner or later even God would need to change.”

"The OverSoul needs human beings to teach her [using] intentions derived from love.”

“Yes, and there she mimics Christianity again—‘God is Love’—perhaps the core belief of Christianity. And although it may not yet be possible for the OverSoul to directly experience love as humanity thinks of it, she can detect such love in her subjects’ brain signature ... purity of purpose, clarity of mind, and an altruistic intent.”
There are several common fallacies and syncretisms contained in this philosophy as laid out. We will content ourselves with a short list of places and ideas that got borrowed.
The book does bring up a few good questions: what is the nature of God? of reality? of love and sacrifice? of redemption and eternal life? what makes us human? What is doesn't do a good job at is answering those questions.

God is love. That part is correct. Love is "purity of purpose, clarity of mind, and an altruistic intent" -- not so much; try "Love is complete self-donation", see 1 Corinthians 13:4.

God needs to evolve, learn, and to be taught by us? Nope. Try: God is a dynamic unity of persons (Trinity), yet there is no shadow of change in Him. "All good giving and every perfect gift 9 is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change." James 1:17. God is the totality of existence of reality, the only necessary being - it is we who are contingent on Him.

And so on.

Conclusion: Interesting book, somewhat predictable, but falls flat in its conclusions. Religion and SciFi/Fantasy don't mix especially well due to the shallowness of the authors.

The only one who has ever pulled this off successfully is Tolkien, and to a lesser extent C.S. Lewis. My advice is read them instead.


SRMcEvoy said...

You should check out Sacred Visions edited by Andrew M. Greeley, it is a good collection of Catholic Science Fiction. Also
Substance of Things Hoped For edited by John Breslin S.J a great collection of Catholic fiction.


Nod said...

Thanks, Steven. It will be nice to read something good (in each sense of the word).


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