Heavens Above

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orgone
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Heavens Above

Post by orgone »

The opening to my short story, where the inhabitants of Heaven put God on trail and sentence Him to death...

“Time wastes us all, our bodies and our wits,
But we waste Time, so Time and we are quits.”

Anon

Things have changed, let me tell you. How could they not? You see, when God said Eternity, he really meant it. Heaven used to be like one of those big hippy music festivals, except the souls were more annoying and God left out the warm beer. We all drifted around, chilled out, chatted away on the topics of metaphysics and jazz. That was all well and good for the first few thousand years, there’s plenty to talk about when you have the cream of humanity from across the ages all stuck in one place.

The ancient peoples kept themselves to themselves of course, and some of those Communists were pretty annoyed, but apart from that (I swear God has the best sense of humour about these things) it was all ok. But like I say, that was the first few thousand years, things are a little different now.

Humanity changed quite a bit, the fundamentalists hate to admit it, but evolution was an active process. God joked once that he was going to get some dinosaur souls up here, that gave the Catholic Theologians something to talk about let me tell you! It also cheered up the Buddhists a bit, because they can be miserable bastards. But anyway, Humanity changed, we got quite good at the whole ‘genetic manipulation’ thing and towards the end we had some real fruitcakes up here.

You know, by the year 8000ad there were three genders, Wens, Mons and Lids, it took the coming together of three separate people to reproduce! If anything it revitalised the porn industry for a while, but population control was still something of an issue.

Yup, the course of History never ran smooth, is that the phrase they use? Wars, famine, disease and natural disaster, and we, if we wanted, had a ringside seat. I found that most people took an obsessive interest in what was happening back home for their first few hundred years, and then attention tends to wane. There’s only so many times you can bear the words ‘Middle East Crisis’. People had a depressing habit of repeating their mistakes.

What got us in the end, however, was not a nuclear holocaust, or a meteor, or any kind of super-bug, but plain-old boredom. The human race, such as it was by that time, sort of fizzled out, just like that. We got thin, we got lazy, and we got brain dead. Couldn’t be bothered to reproduce anymore, and so that was it.

Not many of them from those final days made it up here, those that did, like I say, were mostly real fruitcakes. One of them, however, came to be my very best friend and companion. Back home he didn’t have a name, but I’m from a more ‘traditional’ era and I couldn’t be doing with that, so I named him Thales.

Thales was the last of the Lids with any real wit. Me and him had a great time together, he loved to hear me tell jokes. Now I’m no great comedian so let me explain. For me to tell a joke could take a whole day or more, without a shared cultural heritage, humour can be a real mystery. After all the time I spent teaching him about the world I’d lived in, and elaborating over the subtlety of irony, the effrontery of sarcasm and the intricacies of wordplay, his favourite joke was still this:

“Two peanuts walk in to a bar. One was assaulted.”

Can you believe it? That one had him falling arse-over-end laughing every time I told it! But like I say, he was my best friend and companion, its only that in his time no one could be bothered to develop themselves much beyond the successful execution of bodily functions, that was just how humanity ended up.

So I suppose you want to know what I’m talking about? I’m talking about the fatal consequences of short-sighted cost-benefit analysis, that’s what. But no, not really, I’m not here to preach at you. What I am going to tell you about is Heaven and what’s been happening up here during Humanity’s hiatus. It’s quite a story; I think you should sit down.

We looked down from Heaven at the course of history on Earth with growing dismay. In my time we saw the great sweep of Human progress towards freedom and reason, onwards toward a glorious future. History had some sort of direction, and thus, some sense of meaning, and we were part of it, shaping the clay.

When we died, and I’ll tell you about how I died in a moment, and saw that there was a God, and some sort of Heaven, well we jumped to all sorts of conclusions. We were right! Life did have a purpose! The theists were self-congratulatory; the atheists were jokingly patted on the back ‘Better luck next time, chap!’ Ha! What fools!

The last thought to go through my mind right before I kicked the bucket was, despite my life-long atheism, a particularly offensive blasphemy:

I love London bus drivers. If you haven’t heard of London, it was an ancient capital city, look it up. If you haven’t heard of a bus, then look up 20th and 21st century London, we were a people peculiarly keen on big red ones.

Anyway, I loved the awful London bus drivers, the ones who would shout at passengers for taking too long to embark or disembark, the young, the sick and old alike. Who would refuse to cooperate with tourists or give directions of any kind, sometimes refusing to speak at all! Who, when the bus was even moderately full, would refuse to stop, to let anyone on or to escape. Who would run red lights and cut people up. I would often time my journeys according to the driver’s shift patterns, knowing that the closer a driver was to the end of his shift, the more anxious he would be to reach the depot, and thus the more bad tempered and likely to take risks along the route. How I loved to sit on the top deck, right at the front, and see the bemused and angry faces of the waiting crowds, hear the arguments, the other drivers sounding their horns, and all of the indignant the tut-tut-tuting from my fellow passengers. I would of course nod in agreement with a good-citizen’s furrowed brow, and often curse theatrically under my breath, but all that was just for show, all part of the wonderful game, I wouldn’t have been anywhere else!
This fateful vice would be my downfall, however, when one evening the number 36, piloted erratically by an irate Polish trainee, ploughed in to an articulated lorry, flinging me plumb through the top front window and in to the unforgiving tarmac below. Not a hero’s death, but still. The delays caused must have been awful as we were at a particularly busy intersection. What I wouldn’t have given to be a passenger on one of the busses behind us! Unfortunately the ensuing paradox would have been intolerably confusing…

“Do you see the Divine in the universe and in nature, Mani?”
“No. The sublime, the absurd, those I see. And if the sum of those two things now bears the name ‘Divine’, I cast all hope away, and gladly too.”
“We shall see…”

I don’t know if they ask everyone the same question, it’s a taboo subject amongst some, so I presume not. Thales I know is fond of the game of Questions, and spent a good ten minuets in that formless void. The questioner, apparently, is rather humourless.
Last edited by orgone on Sun Feb 18, 2007 10:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely re-arranging their prejudices."
William James, US Pragmatist philosopher & psychologist (1842 - 1910)

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clknaps
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Post by clknaps »

Orgone, welcome to the forum. Thank you for posting this for us.

Your writing style is pragmatic and the piece is easy to read. You convey your thoughts in a clear and understandable manner.
I will leave the rest of the critique up to people who are not quite as sensitive as I am to these topics.

CLK
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Post by orgone »

clknaps wrote:Orgone, welcome to the forum. Thank you for posting this for us.

Your writing style is pragmatic and the piece is easy to read. You convey your thoughts in a clear and understandable manner.
I will leave the rest of the critique up to people who are not quite as sensitive as I am to these topics.

CLK


Thank you, CLK! The style is also tongue-in-cheek, so whilst I'm very glad to write something provocative (In fact the more provocative the better, even if the provoked response is negative! - but not to the point of vulgarity for vulgarity's sake) take heart that the ultimate moral of the story, inspired by the Trial of Socrates, will be tragedy.
"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely re-arranging their prejudices."
William James, US Pragmatist philosopher & psychologist (1842 - 1910)

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Post by Bmat »

There were some places that had minor grammar errors- near the end "to" should be "too," "minuets" should be "minutes" (unless you mean the dance)- actually that is all I can think of right now. I don't know if you want to have "smoothly" instead of "smooth" about the course of history.

I admit that I don't understand how the speaker sees the sublime and the absurd instead of the divine, but this is likely my own not understanding.

The pacing of the story is quite good. It is easy to read and humorous. Particularly enjoyable is the tongue-in-cheek style.

I wonder if the story belongs in the SF/F forum. I don't know if all stories set in the future are SF/F, but the three sexes makes me think that it could be. I could easily move it if you like, or it can remain here.

I was drawn in immediately to the story, although I never felt a strong need to see where it was going. You say this is the opening to the short story? Perhaps the lack of emotional build up is because this is not the whole story.

The structure that I see is the first part of the story setting up the present state of mankind and the reason for the state, and then tacked on is the part about the bus and about how the speaker died.

It seems more like a chapter of a novel than a short story, as it is written here. But I am not complaining. I enjoyed it very much.

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Post by orgone »

Bmat wrote:There were some places that had minor grammar errors- near the end "to" should be "too," "minuets" should be "minutes" (unless you mean the dance)- actually that is all I can think of right now. I don't know if you want to have "smoothly" instead of "smooth" about the course of history.

I admit that I don't understand how the speaker sees the sublime and the absurd instead of the divine, but this is likely my own not understanding.

The pacing of the story is quite good. It is easy to read and humorous. Particularly enjoyable is the tongue-in-cheek style.

I wonder if the story belongs in the SF/F forum. I don't know if all stories set in the future are SF/F, but the three sexes makes me think that it could be. I could easily move it if you like, or it can remain here.

I was drawn in immediately to the story, although I never felt a strong need to see where it was going. You say this is the opening to the short story? Perhaps the lack of emotional build up is because this is not the whole story.

The structure that I see is the first part of the story setting up the present state of mankind and the reason for the state, and then tacked on is the part about the bus and about how the speaker died.

It seems more like a chapter of a novel than a short story, as it is written here. But I am not complaining. I enjoyed it very much.



Im very glad you enjoyed it! Thakyou! -

Yeah the old "minuets" / "minutes" problem, i ALWAYS get that wrong, and because their both real words, spell-check doesnt pick me up on it! Thanks :) (I dont get "to" / "too" mixxed up that often, thats embarassing! Cheers!)

Yup, "Smooth" is how i imagine Mani (The main charachter) saying the phrase.

The 'Divine' is God and all that is God-like, pantheism for example, sees and equates the divine in and with everything. a better example is people talking of the 'divine will' behind events etc. A a common phrase nevertheless is 'divine nature', identifying that awe and beauty inspired by life, with the will of a sentient creator.

The 'sublime' is that which impresses the mind with a sense of grandeur and power, inspiring a sense of awe and wonder, basically the divine without a divinty 'behind it'.

But thats not all we see in the world, we also have the 'absurd', the pointless, the irrational and the meaningless, this was the centre of Albert Camus' existentialist philosophy, and cannot be ignored, but in its essence it is the antithesis of Divinity.

So what Mani is expressing, really, is a version of the classic 'Problem Of Evil' which is the result of the idea of an all powerfull and benelovelt God creating an imperfect world, but more, that the very essence of the universe is absurd and sublime, and if there is a divinity behind it, its certainly not a benevolent one, thus the fatalistic casting aside of hope, why posess hope in the face of an all powerfull being which is in its self amoral, absurd?

Your right about the 'tacked on' nature of the bus bit, im 'bitty', thats my real problem with writing fiction, i have lots of little ideas, little scenes that i write, and a few over-arching ideas, but bringing them all in to a coherent narrative with a beginning a middle and an end i have so far found impossible. with the length its at at the moment, it could probably be called a novella when its done, these things are hard to judge.

I think your right about moving it, it really is sci-fi/fantasy, its hardly realistic! So i wouldnt mind that :)
"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely re-arranging their prejudices."
William James, US Pragmatist philosopher & psychologist (1842 - 1910)

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Post by berry »

Hi Orgone,
I really enjoyed this piece, as Bmat said it feels like it's going to be a novel rather than a short story. If indeed it is going to be a novel I would certainly read it. I love the style, (I am slightly biased as 1st person is my favorite). the MC is witty and aimiable and the I like the pace. My brain is challenged trying to picture how the human race now looks with 3 genders but it is an excellent idea.
I like the opportunity to get into spiritual matters without having to take them all so seriously. I would have to agree with the absurd and sublime as any God that creates his creatures beautiful and perfect with freewill, then forgets to remove evil and temptation in the form of his disgruntled former favorite (Satan) and then punishes his own creations for using the free will he gave them is either an idiot or just mean. I have had a rant about this myself in one of my stories.
I like the detour into London life, for me it gave the character a chance to express his personality and as a Londoner who doesn't have a car it was particularly amusing.
I would love to see where this is going and look forward to reading more.
Outside of a dog, a book is mans best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.
Groucho Marx

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