Thursday, April 7, 2011

#6: F is for Five Gods and Fantasy Fiction

Recently, I've been reading a serious of books by Lois McMaster Bujold, a fantasy fiction series referred to as the Five Gods universe, or the Chalionverse. It's currently three books: The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls, and The Hallowed Hunt, with a tentative plan to add two more and have one per god.

The key to the setting is the Five Gods: The Father of Winter, The Mother of Summer, The Daughter of Spring, The Son of Autumn, and The Bastard, God of disasters and all things "out of season". They cannot physically intervene in the mortal world, but instead must guide humans to do what needs to be done. Free will being what it is, they may need to send hundreds of people for even one to accomplish what needs to be done.

In particular, the Bastard interests me. His sphere of influence includes anything that doesn't fit the normal expectations: in addition to the children born of adultery that you'd expect, he also includes orphans, homosexuals, and anyone else who doesn't fit in the neat niches society creates for them. I'm very pleased to see a system that explicitly provides a place for the people who just don't fit; it's relatively uncommon. (Another that provides it is the Glorantha setting for Runequest; the "Orlanthi all" is used, where if you say "all Orlanthi are farmers and herdsmen" it's understood that you mean about 6 out of 7; the other 1/7 perform support tasks of various sorts, but there's no shame in being part of that 1/7 or the traditional 6/7.)

Think how much easier life would be for everyone if this concept that "not everyone has to be normal" were more prevalent. Not everyone fits into the little niches. Maybe we should plan for that.

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