Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fantasy travelling blog tour: Evil and the Fantastic

Evil comes in many form. It can be subtle, like a self-loathing thought. It can be impersonal like a famine, man-made like a war. It can be global, like a swarm of alien invaders, or it can be personal where one finds one's self and only one's self turning into a fly. It can be crushing like poverty or falsely joyful like crack cocaine or soma. It can be, invasive and occult like a cancer. It can be deceptive like a double-agent, giving wrong information...like Iago turning all our white to black..or like a demon diguising itself as an angel of light.

I'm a Christian so I guess I'll write about Personalized Personified Evil. There are so many things to hate about evil -- its pettiness, it's selfishness, its delusion, its egotism. But what I have always disliked about evil is its relentlessness, it's ugly, ugly will. As a Christian, I'll say it even more clearly: I hate Satan --him and his ugly, ugly will.

The relentlessness of evil is not fascinating, certainly not in daily life. Although sometimes the great villains -- as in the scifi film Terminator-- are fascinated because they have the human quality of relentlessness.

Sometimes the "evil" is a system --as in The Hunger Games or Stepford Wives
or non-human --as in HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, or TRON, or the MATRIX
or an oligarchy/cult -- as with the nine-headed-hydra of Greek myth or Metropolis or Rosemary's Baby or even Deliverance or of the kind of kin/households one often finds in horror fims --
then the evil must be endured, made powerless, or systematically dismantled section by section. That is structural relentlessness.

Very often, however, the pattern of evil is of the pattern shown in the Bible.
Evil is contained within one Person. That person has control of many systems, minions of differing hierarchy, has A) superior knowledge, B) a rationalized goal, C) the lack of care for those who must be trampled for the completion of the goal, D) total power or near-total power and E) the utter dislike of personal failure. And finally...relentlessness, which is the mental strength to commit to the goal repeatedly and to reassess and recalibrate until the goal is achieved or the evil Person is destroyed.

Jesus described the Devil as one who comes to kill, to steal, to deatroy and the best Biblical representation of evil or Satan is shown in the battle between Moses and Pharoah. The lines are drawn. A good God and and enslaved people on one side and on the other side a relentless Figure of Power who refuses to let the enslaved people go. It doesn't matter how defeated the Figure of Evil (or his minions) are -- the goal is enslavement of another.

The human characters in fantasy can be considered demonic, even though they don't represent the Devil himself. So while there are many evil characters in fantasy who come to kill, steal, and destroy, the fact is an evil character can elicit pity, identification, and fear. We fear evil in the fantastic because we recognize its immensity. We identify with the evil because we see our own flaws in them. And we pity the evil (sometimes) because we recognize that at one point or another, we were stopped by a greater power or we realized our own powerlessness.

Other posts on this topic can be found here:

http://warrenrochelle.com/2013/09/30/great-fantasy-traveling-roundtable-blog-september-2013-evil-and-the-fantastic/

Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections.

Theresa Crater has published two contemporary fantasies, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moon and “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website athttp://theresacrater.com 

Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See: www.andreakhost.com

 I began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with JAYDIUM and NORTHLIGHT, and short stories in ASIMOV'S, F & SF, REALMS OF FANTASY and STAR WARS: TALES FROM JABBA'S PALACE. Now under my birth name, Ross, I am continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy THE SEVEN-PETALED SHIELD. I'm a member of Book View Cafe. I've lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, and am active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.
 http://deborahjross.blogspot.com/

Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies. 
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