S.M. Stirling, author of the best selling Dies the Fire and Sunrise Lands series, swings through Minneapolis to promote a new novel. He will be at Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore today (September 7th) at 5 pm-6pm.
Both series are increasingly popular with Pagans as many of the main characters are Wiccans and Heathens. The books allow us to see a reality in which our religions are dominate religions once again. These circumstances are brought into play after an event called “The Change”:
“the Change,” that renders electronics and explosives (including firearms) inoperative. As American society disintegrates, without either a government able to maintain order or an economy capable of sustaining a large population, most of the world dies off from a combination of famine, plague, brigandage and just plain bad luck. The survivors are those who adapt most quickly, either by making it to the country and growing their own crops—or by taking those crops from others by force. […] Ultimately, Stirling shows that while our technology influences the means by which we live, it is the myths we believe in that determine how we live. The novel’s dual themes—myth and technology—should appeal to both fantasy and hard SF readers as well as to techno-thriller fans. – Publishers Weekly
The author has gone to great pains to research Paganism and his books are described as one of the truest depictions of Paganism in modern literature. Chas Clifton, best known for his book Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in the America, had this to say about the series:
Probably the main reason that review copies of parts two and three arrived in my mailbox is Sterling’s pride in creating the character of Juniper MacKenzie, folksinger and Wiccan high priestess, whose coven becomes the nucleus of “Clan Mackenzie,” a burgeoning tribe of small farmers and craftspeople who take their archery practice very seriously. The clan makes the “Old Religion” the dominate faith tradition of Oregon’s middle Willamette Valley—except for the monks at Mount Angel and a few other hold-outs.
Having Wiccan characters in a novel of alternative history is not exactly mainstreaming them—-and I could just as easily see a charismatic Protestant pastor organizing the Lord’s Army of kick-ass archers and pikemen—-but it does allow the books’ characters to bring a Pagan sensibility to this tale of war and survival.
If you would like to read some sample chapters of the author’s books, you can do so on this site. Just click on the link to Dies the Fire at the top of the main page, then click on the sample chapters for the first book, Dies the Fire. There is also a link to an interview done by WitchVox back in 2007 on the same page.