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Religion and Mythology in Fantasy / Sci-Fi

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Postby aldan » Wed Feb 14, 2007 2:01 pm

Some of the things that I find fun to play with when creating a mythology for a story are as follows:

First, how many gods are there, and how many groups of gods? Why are they grouped (if they are) or not grouped? Are the gods more racially tied or are they tied to human-type attributes/concepts (such as love, war, knowledge, etc.)? Where did the gods come from? How? Can gods be killed, and if so, how can they be slain/destroyed? What helps a god become more powerful, and what can weaken a god? Are the gods directly involved with their worshippers? Indirectly involved? Not involved at all? What are the effects of not worshipping any gods for individual people?

In any case, that should give you an idea.
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Postby berry » Tue Feb 20, 2007 3:37 pm

Neil Gaimon's 'American Gods' has a good take on this. I reccomend it for putting the gods back into fantasy without having to move the fantasy into the past.
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Postby clknaps » Tue Mar 27, 2007 6:15 am

Great thread, I enjoyed reading it. I think the best Fantasy stories are the ones that strive to include myth and religion into them. Personal bias, I know. Look at CS Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia.

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Postby SirJill » Fri Apr 27, 2007 7:14 am

Jill likes mythology. Jill likes mythology so much that most of her recent stuff has had huge ties to it. Mostly Classical mythology, because the connections and making stuff up is fun.

So, I guess the question now is--how esoteric is too esoteric? As a reader, do you actually go and look up names which might be significant?

For example. One of my recent stories is called 'Meleager'. This is a refrence to Meleager in Greek mythology, a hero involved in the Calydonian boar hunt, who was killed by his mother, who burned a log containing his lifeforce. In the story I wrote, the main character's name is Arete, from the Odyssey, a girl who accompanies Nausicaa, who finds Odysseus washed up on shore after escaping Calypso's island. Her name (Arete's) means 'indescribable' and it also has implications of discovery.

The basic plot of the summary is a painter, alone in a cabin in the woods, leaves the cabin late at night to retrieve some wood for her fireplace. As she picks up a log from the woodpile, she is thrust into a flashback of how 'things might have been' with her old fiance. Creeped out a little, she puts the log back and picks up another, only to find herself in a sort of forward prediction; finding herself in a relationship with another woman, a poet this time, who has attended many of her art shows. She has the choice to go back, to find happiness in deceit, or to assign a future to herself, a productive one, but unhappy. She eventually decides not to burn either of the logs, preferring to choose her own fate, rather than have it set out.

There's nothing outright, like FZ's Tephras, but the connections and the implications are there.

Unfortunately, they're terrifically esoteric.

So, is this good, bad if the allusions are so esoteric that they have to be dug for? Or does that make it better?
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Postby aldan » Sat Apr 28, 2007 11:56 am

Personally, I feel that it's better if the references don't smack the reader in the forehead. The fact that those references are rather 'esoteric' and such will reward the readers that want to put forth the effort to find out why you used such odd names. It's really much easier today, with the internet being so accessible and all, for the readers to find that info out, so I'd not worry too much about it, SJ. Any who would want to know about the info could find it in minutes, and then it'd simply be a matter of their ability to figure out the why of the references.
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Postby wizardahz » Sun May 06, 2007 8:07 pm

I suggest the book Myth Magic and Ancient religions as a great
resource for non judeo-cristian relious beliefs
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Postby aldan » Tue May 08, 2007 1:57 pm

So, wiz, why the grammatically poorly phrased quote?
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and to appear stupid than
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Postby wizardahz » Tue May 08, 2007 4:42 pm

It is from the Gratefull Dead Song Only The Strange Remain,
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Postby aldan » Thu May 10, 2007 9:13 am

Wow, and they spelled it like that?

"Too reckless to live, too careful to die", is how I'd have written it... but then again, I tend to be a bit 'anal' about such things...
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