Dear Science Fiction Writers,
Let me draw your attention to these few facts.
For all human history xenophobia and racism have been a part of human life. The exceptions have been few and far apart; more sneering concessions of the powerful than any genuine neophilia. Then, a few decades ago, we got wise enough to cast that crock of shit aside. It would be a bloody dystopia if our future was to become as our past was.
For all human history women have been treated as the inferior sex: patronized, coddled, bought, sold, abused, denied credit and opportunity no matter their deeds and talents. Then, a few decades ago, we decided that that former immutable of the human condition was something we would not have; that our children would not have. Write a tale where that vile lie lives, if you so wish, but please remember that will be a hateful, pessimistic future, not a sure and certain continuation of a fixed trend of the human race.
And, to get to my actual point, for all human history there has been religion, a stupidity equal to that of racism and misogyny, just as false, and just as fixed. It has been the foundation of just as many societies; the inspiration of just as many ideologies and philosophies. It has taken many pretty guises and inspired good deeds; but it has always been a mistake, an untruth, a claim at the existence of things which are nothing but wishful thinking and fever dreams. All the good and noble things it has caused, all the crimes it has excused, all the societies it has held up, have been based on a falsehood, cloaked in the smug vacuities of theology, protected by the veils of ignorance, fear and undeserved respect. All it has caused has been by the dance of an empty reference, equally willing to point at love, absurdity or darkest crime. I can feel nothing but terror and disgust at the thought this falsehood would endure up to the stars; the thought is as repellent as a grown man believing in monsters under his bed.
As an increased understanding of the world and our place in it has killed the parochial insanities of racism and sexism, so it has hurt religion. Where we reach towards the stars, that particular stupidity is a shadow of its former awful baroque glory. If our future is to be more dedicated to the pursuit of truth than to the worship of ancestral idols, so too will religion fall into utter irrelevance and die. Good riddance; human stupidity may be eternal, but the specific forms it takes need not be.
So if you need to write a tale of a future, with spaceships and planets and hyperspace… by all means write religion into it, if you so wish. Maybe you’re one of the twits who think it actually refers at something true. Maybe you’re more pessimistic than me, and think it is more persistent than racism and misogyny. Maybe you see it as just a social tic that will not die. Maybe, and most probably, you’re not interested in exploring this particular trend, likely to complicate your story and make your audience uncomfortable. I understand your reasons, and would not have you write any way except that which seems best to you.
But please know that when I come across an array of Roman Catholics, Shintos, Mormons and the fucking Amish in space, I’ll be thinking it would have been better for mankind to die in its cradle than to grow so high, yet learn so little.
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Yes; this came out because of a specific book. No, the above doesn’t have hints about which book that was. Yes, it was very cathartic, and heartfelt, and now I’m going back into the book because this accidental dystopia aside, it’s a good one and the writer (this twit-ness aside) is a genius.