Yesterday saw the release of Heretics, the second book (following Prophets 2009) in the sequel to his epic space opera Hostile Takeover trilogy which was released from DAW in March 2009. Cover art for the new series is absolutely terrific and I do love a good space opera. I read Prophets last year and fans of sweeping space opera will not be disappointed.
Bio: S. Andrew Swann is the pen name of Steven Swiniarski. He’s married and lives in the Greater Cleveland area where he has lived all of his adult life. He has a background in mechanical engineering and— besides writing— works as a Database Manager for one of the largest private child services agencies in the Cleveland area. He has published 19 novels over the past 15 yearsWolfbreed, the first volume in his historical fantasy paranormal series was released on August 25, 2009 and the next book, Wolf Cross is due July 27. Steven will be back for a full interview at that time (check the calendar). Today Steven has prepared a guest post on a difficult theme that lies at the heart of his new trilogy.
Can you write SF about religion?
The first common stereotype we find is the obvious one of the religionists as the repressive bad guys standing against knowledge and science. A lot of nasty stuff has been done in the name of God, and a large number of fundamentalist sects are anti-science because of the historical attempt of most faiths to explain the physical world— scientific explanations are seen as a threat.
The second common stereotype is that we have this one particular faith (maybe alien, maybe invented, rarely but sometimes an actual existing faith) happens to be definitively and explicitly right, and the author’s speculative engines grind on dealing with the implications of that idea.
The first lays out the SF/Religion dichotomy in the conflict of the story, the second co-opts the religion and makes it part of the scientific knowledge of the universe. But rarely does either deal with the primary function of religion in a human society.
The need for a common moral construct to hold society together will not go away any time soon, even in a post-singularity space opera. And even when the moral basis is secular in nature, the product ends up becoming— in some important sense— religious. Both Marxism and Objectivism reject God, but both create a construct defining good and evil, and both require a faith in a set of core “truths” that are not subject to any external verification.
What I’ve tried to do with the Apotheosis Trilogy is take the idea of religion— without casting it as the antagonist, or giving a particular faith privileged status— and let it loose during a crisis that can easily be interpreted as the Apocalypse. I have many characters of many faiths, both existing and invented, facing a moral Rubicon, with their faiths informing their actions.
Steven Swiniarski (aka S Andrew Swann)
If you would like to check out descriptions of any of Steven's other books or series use the links for full blurbs and cover information or visit his official website.
S. A. Swann
- The Apotheosis Series
- Prophets (2009)
- Heretics (DAW Books Inc., 2010)
The Cleveland Portal Series
- Dragons & Dwarves (2009)
- Dragons of the Cuyahoga (2001)
- Dwarves of Whiskey Island (2005)
The Hostile Takeover Series
- The Hostile Takeover Trilogy (2004)
- Profiteer (1995)
- Partisan (1995)
- Revolutionary (1996)
The Moreau Series
- The Moreau Omnibus (2003)
- Forests of the Night (1993)
- Emperors of the Twilight (1994)
- Specters of the Dawn (1994)
- Fearful Symmetries (1999)
Stand Alone Novels
- God's Dice (1997)
- Zimmerman's Algorithm (2000)
- Broken Crescent (2004)