Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Choose Your Messiah How

How do you define God?

In our world, of course, it's not too pressing or too difficult. Some guy comes up and waves his hand and the dead walk, hey, God! Likewise, anyone who goes around building new universes is pretty much a shoo-in for the job.

But what about fantasy? Gods run amuck in fantasy worlds- but most of them never actually do much. They "manifest" and give out vague prophecies, or perform minor acts of magic. Which makes them different from that world's It doesn't. And rarely is any explanation offered of how people know they're worshipping a true God (and how they choose which one to go with) as opposed to say, Steve in Accounting, who's figured out some foresight and projection spells.

It gets even weirder in superhero verses. Marvel has the gods of Asgard and Greece running around eating hotdogs and hitting on women. Plus multiple devils, about five universe-builders, and at least one Celestovore. And let's not forget the mere mutants who can reverse time, resurrect themselves and others, command the elements...all pretty solidly god-powers in our mythos. (My favorite bit of fictive dissonance involved a DC story where one hero explained to a sidekick that of course Santa Claus was ridiculous! Because no one can fly around the world in one night! And who would live in the north pole? And...this is in the universe where Superman lives, remember.Man who can fly around the world in the space of a sentence, lives in a giant ice fortress at the North Pole...)

A lot of fantasy 'verses seem to dodge this by giving their population a rather Classic view of the Gods- gods are just people who can ruin your life in new exciting ways instead of the usual guns and taxes, people pay tribute to them as they do to their rulers, so on and such.

So what makes a god, when the miraculous is common? And what does a god merit? And does anyone have any recommendations for stories that actually deal with this in a non-preachy way? 'Cause I'd read that.