Fantasy

Simple experiment: find a few OT Bible chapters online & paste them into a text editor. Replace every instance of the name “Moses” with the name “Gul Dukat” and “Israelite” with “Cardassian”. Still awesome? You bet:

Numbers 31:7-18

They fought against Midian, as the LORD commanded Gul Dukat, and killed every man. Among their victims were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba – the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. The Cardassians captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps. They took all the plunder and spoils, including the people and animals, and brought the captives, spoils and plunder to Gul Dukat and Eleazar the priest and the Cardassian assembly at their camp on the plains of Moab, by the Jordan across from Jericho.

Dukat, Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. Gul Dukat was angry with the officers of the army – the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds – who returned from the battle.

“Have you allowed all the women to live?” Dukat asked them. “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and were the means of turning the Cardassians away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people. Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

Perhaps even more awesome. And certainly more appropriate that a Cardassian is being such a brutal, merciless, child-raping son of a bitch, rather than Yahweh’s chief prophet and holiest man on Earth. Also, it’s strange how easily names from science fiction slot right into Bible stories.

As an aside, I’ve always thought there were curious parallels between the names in sci-fi, fantasy and the Bible (and other mythologies). I’m going to go out on a limb and presume that SF and fantasy authors have always used Biblical/mythological-sounding names (and naming conventions) to add to their stories a particular gravity. “Balaam, son of Beor”, for instance: if you’d never heard this name in its Biblical context and were asked to guess where it came from, you could be excused for guessing it was from a Middle Earth-ish sword & sorcery novel or a space opera in which an advanced race encounter a primitive & barbarous people on a distant planet.

Now, if you wanted your Star Trek search & replace 100% authentic (euphemism for “if you were a complete & utter nerd”) you could replace “Midianite” with “Bajoran”, then do a little research & replace all the other names with appropriate analogues from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. But you don’t have to, really (but if you do, send it to me!).

I think the point I’m making is transparently obvious and doesn’t need explanation. Suffice it to say that if today, you were to read your own sacred scripture for the first time, independent of input from any priests or anyone else with a vested interest in making you believe it, you’d probably think it was mythology inferior to that of the ancient Greeks, fantasy inferior to Tolkien or some sub-par science fiction (which Star Trek is not, by the way, so do not misunderstand me). You’d probably wonder if the protagonists – that Yahweh chap and all his favourites – were really meant to be the good guys, what with their smiting and massacring and raping and pillaging of anyone who displeased them or just happened to be in their way. You’d likely look at the basic factual errors about the universe (such as Genesis) and unverifiable, unsupported events (such as Exodus) and conclude that it was indeed a work of fiction. If, after noticing all that is factually and morally wrong within it, you found out that people were viewing it as absolute Truth, basing their entire lives and after-lives on it and even oppressing or killing people who didn’t believe in it or interpreted it differently, you’d be flabbergasted. If you were already religious, you’d call them blasphemers, heretics. Depending on how religious you were, you may well call for their deaths! If you weren’t religious, you’d stand there scratching your head at the sheer lunacy of it all.

And if you did that, you’d then know nonreligious people feel: watching people hate, oppress & kill each other over some poorly-written fantasy really does our fricking heads in.

Advertisements