Media & Reviews
The following are selected works of fiction which may be of interest. Many of the books are available from BarnesAndNoble.com. If you follow the links provided to buy books from Barnes And Noble, you’ll be helping to support Internet Infidels and The Secular Web.
The Handmaid’s Tale
A story based on the premise that the US Congress is mysteriously assassinated, and fundamentalists quickly take charge of the nation to set it “right” again. The book is the diary of a woman’s life as she tries to live under the new Christian theocracy. Women’s right to own property is revoked, and their bank accounts are closed; sinful luxuries are outlawed, and the radio is only used for readings from the Bible. Crimes are punished retroactively: doctors who performed legal abortions in the “old world” are hunted down and hanged. Atwood’s writing style is difficult to get used to at first, but the tale grows more and more chilling as it goes on.
La Peste (The Plague)
A town named Oran experiences a revival of the Bubonic Plague. The clergy of the town tell people that the resulting misery and death are punishment for their sins. Dr Rieux, the main character, eventually emerges from the shadow of the plague to renounce religion on rational humanistic grounds.
Dick, Philip K.
Philip K. Dick wrote many philosophical and thought-provoking short stories and novels. His stories are bizarre at times, but quite approachable. He wrote mainly SF, but he wrote about people, truth and religion rather than technology. Although he often believed that he had met some sort of God, he remained skeptical. Amongst his novels, the following are of some relevance:
A fallible alien deity summons a group of Earth craftsmen and women to a remote planet to raise a giant cathedral from beneath the oceans. When the deity begins to demand faith from the earthers, pot-healer Joe Fernwright is unable to comply. A polished, ironic and amusing novel.
A Maze of Death
Noteworthy for its description of a technology-based religion.
The schizophrenic hero searches for the hidden mysteries of Gnostic Christianity after reality is fired into his brain by a pink laser beam of unknown but possibly divine origin. He is accompanied by his dogmatic and dismissively atheist friend and assorted other odd characters.
Lewis was an excellent writer, and one thoroughly immersed in a Christian worldview. He is perhaps best known for his “Narnia” stories, fantasy stories for children which contain coded Christian imagery. He was a dedicated Christian apologist. He wrote numerous nonfiction essays, as well as some science fiction. Taken with suitable suspension of disbelief, his books offer an excellent insight into the Christian worldview. Taken at face value, they can appear as so much rot.
This is probably required reading, if only because somebody’s going to quote it at you eventually. Grit your teeth and force your way through. Some of his other works are more enjoyable, however.
Miller, Jr, Walter M.
A Canticle for Leibowitz
One gem in this post atomic doomsday novel is the monks who spent their lives copying blueprints from “Saint Leibowitz,” filling the sheets of paper with ink and leaving white lines and letters.
Post atomic doomsday novel set in clerical states. The church, for example, forbids that anyone “produce, describe or use any substance containing … atoms.
The Satanic Verses.
The Satanic Verses made Rushdie a cause célébre, but it is in fact a fine literary novel, which touches on many aspects of faith and its absence or loss, from the perspective of a non-European (and mostly non-Christian) culture.
Imaginary Homelands is a collection of essays, book reviews and other short works. Of particular interest are the various essays on Rushdie’s intentions and experiences regarding “The Satanic Verses.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Carl Sagan imagines the greatest adventure of all–the discovery of an advanced civilization in the depths of space. In December 1999, a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who–or what–is out there? The book responsible for the big-budget Warner Bros. feature film with the same name starring Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughy and directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump).
Various Authors (many unknown)
This somewhat dull and rambling work has often been criticized. However, it is probably worth reading, if only so that you’ll know what all the fuss is about. It exists in many different versions, so make sure you get the “one true version.”