What is Religion anyway, and how do you handle it in Science Fiction?
I posed that question to myself when I started Sword of the Dajjal. I was postulating a brushfire war on a planet far away but rich in important natural resources settled by a wide range of Muslims. One of those groups was trying to foment a rebellion in the name of religious orthodoxy and willing to play off the two powers that be in hope of riding the tiger to safety and prosperity.
Well, if you are going to dredge up one religion why not go whole hog?
Sword is a novel that investigates how politically motivated individuals can wrap themselves in sacred text to cause the masses to support them in their ambitions. To put it bluntly, I cribbed the story idea from the daily headlines from Iraq and Afghanistan. Science Fiction should always have a direct tie to the modern day we live in or it tastes flat, like soda pop left open too long.
I've been a Baha`i for thirty plus years, so I trotted out the example of the Baha`i writings about how society can save itself by giving up nationalism and racism and regarding all of the human race as one body. My main character is a naval officer in the Terran Alliance—a military force dedicated to security for it's members in the face of any offensive act against it. In many ways the hands of the Alliance are tied. They cannot intervene, at least openly, in an internal affair even on a member world.
My main antagonist is a radical Islamic cleric who foments a rebellion on a backwater world. To do that he brings in the star nation that tore itself bodily out of the Alliance a couple centuries before and is based on placing the human race above any other for the purity and well-being of humanity. The Pan human Hegemony is officially non-religious.
A great political stew needs just one thing to come to a boil, that dash of religious prejudice. All hell breaks loose until the discovery of new sapient species on the world must be saved from extinction by the Alliance's own commitment to the fight.
It's a fight for the right, where every side in the conflict clearly claims the right for itself.
Keep Reading and writing,