Mugged by the Mailbag! Describing SOMEWHITHER

A reader with the somewhat angelic name of Manwe, Lord of the Valar, writes in with some questions.

Concerning my current writing projects, COUNT TO A TRILLION (sold) and SOMEWHITHER, he asks:

1) I take it this will be the first saga you have written since becoming Christian, correct?

ANSWER: Usually, I avoid this question, since it gives me a dark and bitter amusement to overhear critics bemoan as Christian apologetic work I wrote as an atheist, while work written as a faithful Christian gets their secular seal of approval.

But the answer is no.

One book, several short stories, and half of another book, were all written after my conversion. The chapters describing the Orphans trip to Mars in a trireme in TITANS OF CHAOS was written by a Christian; the later chapters in the same book describing their trip to Hollywood was written by an atheist.

2) We know the release date for ‘Count to a trillion’, but what about the others? Do you expect them to be released yearly?

ANSWER: That is the publisher’s decision. I usually discover the release date of my books by looking on

3) And as for the fantasy, “Somewhither”, what kind of fantasy is it? (High fantasy, urban, sword and sorcery etc)

ANSWER: The classification is Unfinished Fantasy. I am only on chapter fifteen of what should be a trilogy. I hope you guys like trilogies, because I cannot seem to write anything shorter to save my life.

Seriously, the tale stars a modern American boy, indeed, a Boy Scout, son of a secret agent of the parallel-world traveling Knights Templar secretly working for the Pope, who pops through a rabbit hole or Moebius wormhole, and ends up in a parallel world ruled by the Tower of Babel. He is armed with his grandfather’s katana, a prize brought back from Japan after World War Two, so there is definitely a sword involved, and there is definitely enough sorcery to choke a horse.

4) Last but not least, what would you classify the new SF saga (Count to a Trillion) AND Somewhither as (using your own classifications you came up with in a previous post, Hard or Soft SF, Space Opera, Hard or Soft fantasy, Elf Opera)?

COUNT TO A TRILLION  is Space Opera, like THE GOLDEN AGE.  It is an adventure story taking place in a vaguely science fiction flavored background.

Maybe there is a little Hard SF thrown in there somewhere. I do take the time to get my astronomical facts right.

The short answer is that SOMEWHITHER is a Christian Rock Opera, like JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, but not so blasphemous, but just as stupid.

So think of SOMEWHITHER as more like GODSPELL, but if they decided to instead of using clowns in makeup to portray Our Lord and His apostles, ninjas and vampire-hunters.

The long answer is that SOMEWHITHER (assuming it is ever finished, sold, published) will be in the same category as THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE but if, instead of being a good fairy tale and well written children’s book, the author was an anime-overdosed ex-lawyer who decided it would be way cool if Aslan wore power armor and swelled up to giant size like Ultraman to fight Godzilla, who, in this version, is the Beast from the Sea called up by the Whore of Babylon; and if the Dark Lord were a determinist materialist astrologer who is half-senile; and if Nimrod still owned the shining robe given to Adam and Eve by Jesus after they discovered they were naked, and this robe made him invulnerable; and if Serafina Pekkala from GOLDEN COMPASS were a babelicious busty blond dimension-sailing storm-witch teenager from Slytherin House, which, in this version is at the school on the Island of Roke, which is also in the dimension of Charn ruled by Jadis the White sister of Saruman the White, but her pet bird was not her familiar but instead was her horcrux; and if Ramses from Anne Rice’s THE MUMMY showed up as Black Lensman of Boskone; and if there were a plumber named Pally working in Barad Dur to fix the backed-up toilets in the Dark Tower;  And if John the Baptist showed up as a character who could fly like the Nazi-punching ROCKETEER from the Dave Stevens comic of the same name; and if King Edmund were Connor McLeod the Immortal from HIGHLANDER; and if instead of a thoughtful, and funny and moving parable about the nature of sacrifice and the beauty of forgiveness, CS Lewis were a fan of pulp novels and samurai movies, and threw in a bunch of stupid extraneous junk, including The Shadow, who has the power to cloud men’s minds, and, if there were some way to swing it, end up with John Carter,  Warlord of Mars and Robur the Conqueror fighting a air-to-sea duel with Captain Nemo.

I have already written the Cup of Jamshyd into the plot, and Kai Khasrow from the Shahnamah of Fardusi. Since this story takes place in a Christian background, Captain Nemo survived the Great Deluge of Noah aboard the Nautilus, with the Nephilim called Og, King of Bashan, swimming along side in the deep, his warehouse-sized lungs holding hours of air.  Nemo has explored up the great river Euphrates, and has found where the Four Angels rest far beneath the waters, were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, awaiting the Sixth Trumpet of the Apocalypse, that they might arise for to slay the third part of men.

In other words, I consider the book to be, as Lewis considered Narnia, a ‘metaphysical speculation.’ His speculation was what if Our Lord appeared in a world where our legends are real, but the Sons of Adam are but legends?

My metaphysical speculation is what if Saint Ignatius of Loyola were bombarded by cosmic radiation during an experimental rocket flight, along with jolly Saint Nicholas, Saint George, and Mary Magdalene, which gave them Way Cool superpowers, so that, instead of founding the Society of Jesus, he founded the Justice League of Rome, and made their headquarters in the Baxter Building, and found vampires, werewolves, mummies, Viking Berserkers, Paynim Genii, Albigensian Gnostics, Sauron the Great, and Galactus?

In other words, this book will be the worst book ever, unless a miracle happens, and it somehow turns out to be good. That is how I would categorize it.

I am exaggerating slightly. Well, very slightly. I cannot think of a way to fit the submersible ironclad dreadnought  Nautilus into this book yet. There actually isn’t a Godzilla. Most of the rest of the stuff I can stuff in.

I am trying to keep the background basically inside the lines of what a Roman Catholic might think is theologically sound speculation, but keep in mind that, unlike Mormons, Roman Catholics are allowed to get drunk.

5)  There are some’ relatives of mine’ I would like to recommend your new book to (Count to a trillion), but before I did, I have to ask as to it’s content. Some of your earlier (pre-Christian) books could be..well…kind of vulgar. Example: your “War of dreaming” books would, if adapted faithfully to film, garner an “R” rating for language alone. I don’t think said relatives of mine would be too happy about that (actually, to be truthful it kind of turned me off as well). Will this new book of yours contain any explicit material? And by that I mean harsh profanity, explicit sex, etc. It would be helpful for me to know ahead of time, thank you.

ANSWER: Warn your relatives away.

The main character in SOMEWHITHER is a teenage boy who swears, but he tries to control his language. The main character in COUNT TO A TRILLION is a Texan who swears a blue streak, but most of his swearwords concern things people from his time and culture consider blasphemous, namely, bioweapons and diseases. There is no explicit sex scenes on stage in any of my books wheresoever written. In fact, there is no sex outside of marriage in any book so far written.

If I go back through SOMEWHITHER and clean up the language a bit, I will let you know.

All my books but one contain grotesque depictions of wounds and violence.

6) I don’t know if you would (seeing as how you seem to be more of a SF guy), but would you ever consider writing a High Fantasy novel, something in the vein of Tolkien, perhaps a subcreated world?

ANSWER: I have never considered writing a High Fantasy novel in the vein of Tolkien. I prefer stories where earthmen go to elfland, something like PRINCE CASPIAN or NINE PRINCES IN AMBER so that I can play off the difference between modern earth and ancient dreams. But I am merely the humble servant of the Muses. What they give me, I will write.

(7) (Regarding a recent conversation about the relationship to Zoroastrianism and Judaism, whether the idea of Monotheism was independently invented by both or diffused from one to the other, Manwe quotes me saying ‘To me, however, the whole conversation seems based on an unspoken and false idea: namely, that whoever came up with an idea first is the inventor, and whoever is second is an impersonator.’ He asks– Why isn’t this point brought up more, especially by scholars?

ANSWER: Dunno. Maybe it is. I have read nothing in this field, scholarly or popular.

(8) (Quoting me from the same conversation) ‘This hints that the pagans knew the idea of monotheism, knew the truth, but were bedeviled into bowing to local and lesser sprites and ancestors, or when incorporating the other names of god into their own pantheon from conquered or conquering neighbors, or paid divine honors to founders of their city or grandfathers of their kings, and lost sight of the Heaven of Uranus.’

I like that idea, and it sounds plausible. I wonder if any other Christians throughout history have ever ruminated on this?

ANSWER: The idea is not original to me. I came across the idea that the many wives of Jupiter were no more than the local name for the Sky-Queen or the Earth-Mother, to which the locals already paid divine honors. Rather than rip up the shrine of Leto or Metis, the conquerors merely asserted that Jove was jovial enough to have a harem of girlfriends.

The idea that these idols were once mighty men of old is also not original to me, it is called Euhemerism or Apotheosis. Euhemerus (late 4th century BC) held the theory that the gods were heroes and kings of old, or reflections of historical events told symbolically.

Consider, for example, this passage from the Wisdom of Solomon, one of the Books of the Bible that Martin Luther insisted, in the name of Sola Scriptura, be expunged from the Bible.

wisdom 14:12-14:21


12 For the idea of making idols was the beginning of fornication, and the invention of them was the corruption of life;

13 for they did not exist from the beginning, nor will they last for ever.

14 For through human vanity they entered the world, and therefore their speedy end has been planned.



15 For a father, consumed with grief at an untimely bereavement, made an image of his child, who had been suddenly taken from him; he now honoured as a god what was once a dead human being, and handed on to his dependants secret rites and initiations.

16 Then the ungodly custom, grown strong with time, was kept as a law, and at the command of monarchs carved images were worshipped.

17 When people could not honour monarchs in their presence, since they lived at a distance, they imagined their appearance far away, and made a visible image of the king whom they honoured, so that by their zeal they might flatter the absent one as though present.



18 Then the ambition of the artisan impelled even those who did not know the king to intensify their worship.

19 For he, perhaps wishing to please his ruler, skilfully forced the likeness to take more beautiful form,

20 and the multitude, attracted by the charm of his work, now regarded as an object of worship the one whom shortly before they had honoured as a human being.


21 And this became a hidden trap for humankind, because people, in bondage to misfortune or to royal authority, bestowed on objects of stone or wood the Name that ought not to be shared.

Next question?

(9) (Again, quoting me) ‘So if Zoroaster got the inspiration from Abraham or Abraham from Zoroaster, each man still deserves praise, because their neighbors where given the same inspiration and could have copies the same true idea, and they ignored it.’

That is true (though I don’t think monotheism was in play, Abraham lived long before Zoroaster). But this brings up another question. If indeed one influenced the other, does that change things, or at least how we view them?

Put it this way: If Judaism influenced Zoroastrianism, does that change the way we look at the ancient Persian faith (after all the Muslims thought Zoroaster was a true prophet, and thus added Zoroastrianism to it’s list of ‘people of the book’along with Judaism and Christianity). Or more importantly, what about vice-versa. If Zoroastrianism was the influencer of Judaism, does that change how we view Judaism (and it’s subsequent offspring, Christianity)? Does it cast a shadow on it? Does it take away from it? Or worse, does it somehow impair it?

ANSWER: I am not sure I understand the question. It changes some things but not others. I does not change anything I consider significant.

Perhaps I am too irenic and catholic (small-c) in my approach to religion. I think God has written with his finger in the inner heart of all men. I don’t think an idea has to be kept in strict isolation from pagan sources in order to be legitimate. I have never, for example, understood the argument that since the Babylonians have a flood myth starring Ut-Napishtim, or the Greeks starring Ducaleon, or the Hindu starring Manu, that this casts doubt on the story of the Flood of Noah.

The argument that the second version is unoriginal, therefore degenerate or bad or false, does not strike me as innately any more reasonable than the argument that the first version is undeveloped, therefore primitive or bad or false. Both are informal logical errors: argumentum ad antiquitatem and argumentum ad novitatem.

For that matter, the argument that the accounts agree, therefore the flood myth must be false because it is common to mankind, is not innately more persuasive than the argument that the accounts disagree, therefore the flood myth must be false because it is not common to mankind. (If you want to disprove Biblical literalism, turn to geology.)

As a Roman Catholic, I have no difficulty with the idea that God inspires men outside the tribes of the Chosen People to write books outside the writ as defined narrowly (and without any authority aside from his own imagination) by Martin Luther, and that even some insight or distorted reflection of divine truth cannot sometimes brighten the otherwise dreary labyrinth of pagan falsehoods and superstitions.

If only the Jews ever discovered Monotheism, that would be as extraordinary as if only Pythagoras discovered the Pythagorean Theorem.

(Well, in fact, he did. Despite the best efforts of multi-culturalists to prove otherwise, the geometers of India and China and Egypt did not ever independently discover this theorem. And that is a truth of mathematics, something where the thing being studied does not turn and talk to you, much less create you and establish your fate, and anyone with a logical mind, in theory, should be able to deduce the same theorem.)

Be that as it may, if Zoroaster discovered Monotheism first, the fools who sit in the seats of the scornful will say, “See? You Christian hold that Moses took dictation from the Archangel Gabriel, but here is an idea he simply shoplifted from the Magi, and snuck away with it tucked under his shirt! That PROVES that the Pope is not infallible! If he were infallible, he could have excommunicated slavers in the Sixteenth Century!”

The accusation is a strawman. We Christians believe in a progressive revelation.  Moses knew more about God than Abraham because God has revealed more to Moses. Daniel and Saint John knew more about the End Times than Joseph the Patriarch. John the Baptist and Saint Peter knew more about the nature of God. The Early Church fathers and the theological debates that stormed so violently around the Church General Councils during the First Five Centuries of the Christian Era clarified, defined, and discovered still more implications.

The idea that the Jews were inspired by Zoroaster no more baffles me than the idea that Christian theology was inspired by Neoplatonism. Plotinus perhaps got some things right.

People who expect that the lore of Jewish and Christian thought was entirely created by God without human intervention, dictated to Moses by an angel, mistake our faith for the heresy of Mohammedanism or Mormonism. We think our Bible was written by human fingers over a period of time, and contains the viewpoint of the writers in some things, even if it was inspired and fated to reach its present form by an omnipotent author.

If God uses Zoroaster to inspire Abraham or Melchizedec, who am I to criticize His chosen means and methods?

Are we afraid that the atheists will think it more likely that the revelations and laws given to Moses on Oreb and Sinai had merely a human origin and a natural explanation, and therefore the atheists might come in time to doubt the goodness, or even the existence, of God?

But the atheists already do not believe in God with a perfect and childlike faith that cannot be shaken. They do not look at evidence nor draw logical deductions from self evident first principles, which is what they claim to do.

They take as a premise the rather doubtful and even (in some versions) self-contradictory principle of strict naturalism, and then decide what testimony to ignore and what speculations to admit using that as a yard stick.

They are fish who, having the defined the air as that which does not and cannot exist, deduce that birds are not real. Since a being who swims in the non-water is incomprehensible to their fish-brains, and since (except when inconvenient) they assume reality must to what is imaginable, they assert that birds are not real. On the premise that birds are not real, the fish assert that penguins are not real, even though penguins are moving among them.

There are some rational atheists who do not make this mistake, who are not merely rhetoricians using bogus arguments to prop up an emotional prejudice, but instead are cool, clearheaded, and rational, and who look at the evidence with the unbiased detachment of philosophers.

Unfortunately, they are getting more and more rare, being crowded offstage by jackanapes, windbags, wingnuts, eugenicists, and Socialists and Death Cultists.