Oh man. Another doozy from George R. R. Martin. This week’s short fiction review is about his The Way of Cross & Dragon. At least this one wasn’t completely revolting (I found Meathouse Man pretty disgusting but still worth reading). However, it was certainly another ‘Thinker’. I suppose that is good. Why read if you don’t want to think?
So what did this story make me think about? A couple things really:
1) People really shit on the Catholic Church
I suppose I’m just tired of this motif. There is no doubt in my mind that the One True Interstellar Catholic Church is supposed to revert us back to a period in the Catholic Church’s history, probably the late 1100’s and early 1200’s (really it’s the Inquisitors that give it away). And even though this story is supposed to take place in the future, it feels like we are in the past. It also feels like any form of organized religion is fake or inauthentic, and that belief is for fools. That it is simply constructed to distract us from the harsh and terrible world we live in, or to control the dimwitted masses. I’m kind of over that twist. I’d like to see the Church catch a break once in a while.
Of course I could be misinterpreting the setting. I’m open to suggestions. AKA please comment.
2) Entropy: Really interesting way to look at the world
Entropy is 100% my favorite theme in Sci-Fi and Fantasy literature. Not so much from the everything breaks down and nothing lasts perspective. That’s pretty depressing and not a whole lot of fun. More from the perspective that things must be torn down to be built up. That the universe is constantly changing and from the ruins of something that once was, something else will be. Pretty dramatic stuff right?
The Way of Cross & Dragon seems to frame entropy as a contradiction. After listening to a huge speech about how everything eventually breaks down, the main character seems to be stuck in a seemingly everlasting cycle which will continue on forever. Pursuit of truth is the only true constant.
3) This story has to be the precursor to GoT
Also, this Judas Iscariot fellow (at least the way he is constructed in The Way of Cross & Dragon) seems to resemble Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones an awful lot. Actually, the only difference I can see is that Judas is a dude. Anyway, I haven’t been reading GoT but I’ve been trying to keep up with the HBO series. Obviously, now I’m going to start looking for any type of biblical references in her character (although at present they are eluding me) as the story progresses. Maybe I’ll find something, maybe not.
Again, if you already know of some of these please comment.
4) I think this is as happy as an ending gets for George R.R. Martin
I’m really starting to feel like George R.R. Martin just doesn’t do happy. I sincerely hope that he’s more cheerful in person than some of his writing. This is the second short fiction piece I’ve read by this author and for the second time I’ve need to put it down and go do something else to distract myself. He gets heavy and he does it quickly too.
Anyway, reading back over this post again, it would seem that I didn’t enjoy The Way of Cross & Dragon. That isn’t true. I did enjoy it and would certainly recommend it to anyone reading this post. I really liked the juxtaposition of elements in the story which were supposed to represent Entropy, with those elements which were supposed to represent Immortality. Order from chaos, chaos from order, etc. I think he could have pushed a little harder on in the setting. The inauthentic church motive seems a little tired to me, but this story was written back in the 80’s so maybe it was a fresher idea in that time. I think that’s all for now. If I find any good GoT tidbits relating to this story I’ll be sure to add them. Or maybe just do another post.