Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Who can rewrite the Book of Mormon?

Do you ever wonder why Mormon theology makes such good science fiction? In the television arena, we have the original Battlestar Galactica. (Please don't talk to me about the new one. I have such fond memories of the old one that I cannot stomach the new one, yet it would be watchable if it hadn't tried to connect itself to this now campy old series where they have the ship much larger than an aircraft carrier running on a Apple IIE.) In fiction, a number of good science fiction writers are Mormon, the most notable perhaps being Orson Scott Card. (His novel, The Worthing Saga follows the Book of Mormon discovery story closely and even has a “Moroni” stand-in.)

It seems to me no one in the church hierarchy or even the average Mormon seems to wonder why their theology converts so well to the genre, nor does it seem to me that any Catholic asks why their theology converts so well to horror films. Admittedly, most of them are well done horror films and not the Evil Dead variety, but it still begs the question.

Perhaps it's because Mormonism, if we don't accept the Book of Mormon as literal truth, starts out with a foundation of a badly-written alternate history novel. We also have some force-like elements in that only men can use the priesthood, although perhaps a comparison to Dune would be more appropriate here, because in Frank Herbert's classic, there's a religious organization that admits only women. (Well, that's not entirely true, but it seems that the men who have tried have as is put in the novel not failed, but “tried and died.”) So, perhaps Mormonism would suit itself better to space fantasies such as Star Wars.)

Now let's go further, we have God originating on the planet Kolob, which of course makes it into both versions of Battlestar Galactica as the home world of humanity. Not only that, god has a body and apparently needs to engage in certain activities with a wife or wives to create new spirits. (Which reminds me, has anyone ever noticed the look on men's and women's faces when the discussion of polygamy arise? A man will have a tone and a look of “Yeah, let's bring back the good old days.” His wife, if present, will have a facial expression which conveys the message of “I'll kill you if you ever try it.”)

Perhaps the church would be better off if they recommissioned someone to rewrite the book of Mormon from a different set of metal plates which are in their vaults. Which material doesn't matter since the plates will be taken by an angel afterwards. Let's say platinum just because it's more valuable than gold.

Who should be hired for such a project? Personally, I'd prefer Douglas Adams, but as he has hied to Kolob or wherever the dead go, that might be a little difficult. I think Terry Pratchett would be up to the task, but if I were him, I'd be tempted to make the leadership of the Nephites more like the wizards who inhabit Ankh-Morpork's Unseen University. Perhaps Stephen King should be hired, at least then the book would keep some people awake, rather than putting everyone to sleep.

Regardless of who does it, I think if the church admitted the book was fiction and in bad need of a rewrite, the old Mark Twain claim of the Book of Mormon being “chloroform in print” would go away. Too bad H.P. Lovecraft isn't around anymore. At least the book of Mormon could doctrinally support Mormonism's claims of multiple gods, even if most of the gods H.P. Lovecraft uses are malevolent.


At Wed Oct 25, 05:37:00 PM 2006 , Blogger Sideon said...

There are great Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers out there - I wouldn't limit a BoM re-write to Mormon writers. Orson Scott Card writes well, but he's off my approved writers list - he kills off and/or castrates the homosexuals in his books (cf "Songmaster"). The man doth protest too much.

Could you imagine Neil Gaiman's version? Archetypes and story lines would come alive. He'd re-imagine the stolen elements from the BoM and create a multi-universe and a complete spiritual milieu.

Peter Straub would be fun, if he wrote in the vein of "Shadowland."

Terry Brooks could model the BoM world after his Shannara Series.

What would REALLY do the job would be a female author - grab the Morg by the balls and twist: Ursula Le Guin ("Earthsea" series), Patricia McKillip ("Riddlemaster" series), Mercedes Lackey, C. S. Friedman.

Great post, Sinister.

At Wed Oct 25, 05:54:00 PM 2006 , Blogger The Sinister Porpoise said...

We'll have to exclude Terry Brooks as I an amatuer write better than he does. (I really just don't like his writing. It irritates me.)

We also shouldn't limit ourselves to men, why not have Andre Norton or Ursula K. LeGuin rewrite the book?

Or since the book is clearly one of the first alternate history novels, although that title is usually claimed by L. Sprague DeCamp's Lest Darkness Fall, why not have Harry Turtledove do it?

I'm afraid Robert Jordan is out because he is clearly planning to bargain with Satan for immortal life so the Wheel of Time series never ends.

Or we could have Robert Asprin do it and rename any character named Nephi Skeeve, so we'd have Ist and IInd Skeeve as the first two books in the book of Mormon and III and IV Skeeve near the end.

Then there's Harry Harrison and the book would be far more entertaining if done in the style of the Stainless Steel Rat series, perhaps we could have him do the story of the Gadianton robbers.

At Wed Oct 25, 06:07:00 PM 2006 , Blogger Bishop Rick said...

How about Dr. Suess? Didn't he write about the forgotten brother of Nephi?

Sam I am.

At Wed Oct 25, 06:14:00 PM 2006 , Blogger The Sinister Porpoise said...

If Doctor Seuss were not dead, that would be an excellent idea.

At Wed Oct 25, 07:41:00 PM 2006 , Blogger La said...

Hey Sinister, you should read the Homecoming series by OSC. It is basically the sci-fi version of BOM events. And the Alvin Maker series is the story of JS himself.

But I think Sideon may be right about OSC protesting too much.

At Thu Oct 26, 11:25:00 AM 2006 , Blogger Diane Lowe said...

My personal favorite for a BoM rewrite would be Frank Herbert, but he's hied to Kolob as well.

And as much as I don't like L. Ron Hubbard, he'd be perfect for the job. But he's hied to Kolob too.

At Wed Nov 01, 12:19:00 PM 2006 , Blogger Sideon said...

Anne McCaffrey.

The BoM needs dragons. It's a marketing thing.

At Tue Nov 07, 07:38:00 PM 2006 , Blogger Bishop Rick said...


The BOM has dragons. In the book of Zeezrom, the prophet Zeezrom sees a dragon devouring all the horses and domesticated sheep.

At Mon Mar 10, 06:20:00 PM 2008 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where can I find that Book_of_Zeezrom?


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