Suspending Disbelief, Part I
I confess, I am an avid Sci-Fi reader. When I take time to read, I almost exclusively read that genre. That doesn’t mean I’ve read every Sci-Fi book that’s ever been written, so don’t be surprised if I haven’t read your favorite. I read what I read, not necessarily what you read. I also enjoy children’s movies, like The Last Mimzy. Why? Because I live in the world of reality, and when I take the time to leave that world through reading and watching, I enjoy the imaginative creations of others.
Even with that premise, however, there are constraints. What I read or watch needs to have some element of truth, or else present itself as pure fantasy. I view Alice in Wonderland, the Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter as pure fantasy, and those works don’t require the suspension of disbelief. You know going in what it is and don’t expect anything except a fun read. Good Sci-Fi, however, ratchets my expectation up a notch. In those works, I expect the plot and characters to have an element of “believability”. Even more, I want them to make a social statement.
I’ll address social statements in writing in a subsequent blog; this one is about believability. To achieve that, many Sci-Fi movies and books link to various religious and philosophical texts. Known works and events ground the fiction, make the story seem plausible by connecting it to something already established. It’s an old approach, and one I intentionally used in my Sci-Fi trilogy recently published by xoxopublishing.com: The Judge, Infinity Quest and The Empress of Tridon.
I knew from the outset the overall story would cover new frontiers of space and time. I believed I could creatively handle the vast distances of space by providing a new view of how everything is put together, but I wanted to ground the story by beginning at the present time with a somewhat flawed child, Daniel, and his father who is totally consumed with biblical study. The first challenge was getting these people off earth.
As with all Sci-Fi and paranormal stories, my main characters had a few “special” talents, otherwise the stories would have been “True Crime” or “Contemporary Fiction”. The three special talents my characters claim are the ability to read and implant thoughts, communicate with pheromones, and learn rapidly. Other than that, they are exactly like everyone else. Of course, anyone with those abilities could also rule the world if they were clever enough, but my characters chose not to, being more concerned with discovering why they were different and staying out of the spotlight.
There are many good reasons for a character not exposing his “differences” in human society, if you’ve got them. The famous red dot experiment most aptly demonstrated one of them. In that experiment, a red dot is placed on one white chicken among many. The other chickens see the red dot and begin pecking at it, eventually killing the chicken with the dot. People can be like that, and history is littered with witch trials, the killing of Jesus, and other atrocities against people deemed “different”.
Because of that, I chose to let my “heroes” remain a secret society, never exposing themselves overtly. I also gave them more than a cultural incentive to do so—a mortal enemy with similar capabilities, but dedicated to the total annihilation of the heroes.
I used the father’s bible study to gradually reveal my heroes’ roots, with specific verses leading to the conclusion that this special group of people, who call themselves Judges (the title of the first book in the trilogy), are descendents of the original Judge, Jesus. The bible is a rich references source to guide one to that conclusion.
That Jesus could teach his elders at age twelve made sense if He had a special ability to learn rapidly. The miracles attributed to Jesus also make sense…if he could implant thoughts in the minds of those who wrote them down. And the ability to communicate using pheromones might be necessary to keep the special abilities within the community of Judges, in the same way pheromones help humans subliminally select mates capable of producing offspring with strong immune systems. Everything was grounded. Everything was linked to some known belief or to some scientific principle.
Of course, Daniel soon reaches his teen years and feels constrained by not being able to be “him”. He throws off the taboos of using his special abilities in secret, and instead uses them to seduce women, to win at gambling, and whatever else will bring him pleasure. He becomes a hedonistic free spirit in an unsuspecting society, but by exposing himself openly, becomes a target for his mortal enemies. His father and other Judges eventually exile Daniel to the Alaskan wilderness, where he is forced to endure severe hardship far from other people until he matures.
Over time, Daniel comes to realize his abilities should be used for the good of society, not for personal gain and pleasure. He is supposed to act in secret to eliminate evil from the world, as all Judges do, and never expose himself or others like him for what they are. Even the words of Jesus help him understand his role, and Matthew 7:1-2 takes on new meaning for him. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Daniel is forced to consider, Isn’t that EXACTLY how judgment works? Christ HAD to have been a Judge! Okay, fine, but how does that get the Judges off earth?
The arch enemy continues looking for Daniel, and eventually finds and murders his parents. Their deaths brings Daniel back from Alaska, where he is confronted with the disposition of his father’s things—including his unfinished biblical study. And that takes Daniel on a journey to Israel and through many interrelated bible verses that lead him to the inescapable conclusion that Jesus might have been the original Judge, and that He was not from earth. In fact, the verse 2 Peter 3:8 opens his eyes, “…With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day.” and he realizes time might not matter to his distant relatives at all.
A cascade of events and considerable study lead Daniel to understand the genealogy and purpose of his people. The Judges are ancient beyond belief, and they’re purpose is far greater than the elimination of evil from earth’s societies. Unfortunately, as he reaches his conclusions, his enemy is only one step behind him. That’s when he makes his most astounding discovery—a ship buried beneath the Negev desert.
Even that discovery is grounded in verses beginning with Revelations 4:1 and continuing through 10:1; 14:6-9, 14, 15, 17; and 18:1, a multitude of descriptions that could easily have been the Apostle John’s attempt to report encounters with technology ancient man could not put into words. When he finds his way into the ship and finally observes the truth of his distant past, he realizes the ship is accurately described in the book of Ezekiel, a book written to the Jews during their exile in Babylon approximately 600 B.C., and that Ezekiel 1:16 is just another description of an ancient man’s encounter with something that couldn’t be described using language that existed at the time.
Okay, it is probably appropriate I re-state my purpose for writing this blog. It is not to convert anyone to anything, or to say the bible is a good reference for finding a spaceship. No, it is only to say that linking a story to known items makes it more believable, and that is important for me. I’ll be discussing more on this topic in subsequent blogs, the third Sunday of every month, but the links to reality won’t be just the bible. Instead, they will be published scientific papers, the Torah, the Koran, Hindu writings, and other known philosophies that will enable to reader to stay grounded even though the universe being exposed in the trilogy is vast almost beyond imagination.
With the background above, the blurb for the first book of the trilogy, The Judge, should make sense, to wit: While humans see a person’s physical appearance, Judges see a person’s soul, and if evil is found there, they can release it, causing the judged to inflict on themselves whatever they planed for their victims. Judges live secret lives exercising their capabilities for good, but Daniel strays. His hedonistic lifestyle draws the attention of Iblis scouts, the Judge’s ancient enemy. The Judges escape earth in a gigantic ship hidden by their ancient ancestors, and on the distant planet Tridon, find a massive matrix containing trillions of years of recorded lives. Simulations within the matrix lead to surprising encounters with an element of God, and to a technology for generating objects from thought—a technology that prompted the ancients to question their own existence. The question, “Do we exist?” could not be answered, but Daniel finds life was scattered throughout the universes as part of an elaborate experiment to answer a related question the Judges must now consider: "Is infinity real?"
Thanks for reading today, and a special thanks to those sweet and sexy divas who made posting this blog possible.
James L. Hatch