Return to the Desert IV: The Xenophobe

I kept walking, leaving the canyons behind. The eerie stone pillars and rugged topography of the badlands faded away like a mirage, and soon, the land was flat and featureless again.This part of the desert was what geologists called a hamada, a low, level plain of boulders and stony soil. Low, wind-carved dunes rose in the distance, and far beyond them, hazy with distance, stood the ever-present mountains in whose rainshadow this barren land lay. My steps crunched on the rough gravel, whose … [Read more...]

Return to the Desert: The Eschatologist

The salt-crusted stone shack disappeared before I had been walking more than a few minutes, swallowed up in a sandstorm gust. Squaring my face to the wind, I kept walking.The salt flats soon fell away behind me, and I entered a new region of the desert. It was a badlands: a barren landscape of mesas and canyons, steep slopes and sawtooth ridges, all sculpted into fantastic, unearthly shapes like the topography of an alien planet. Tall, twisted spires and jagged outcroppings rose all around me … [Read more...]

Return to the Desert: The Scholar

A gust of stinging wind assailed me as soon as I passed through the portal, blowing fine grit into my face. I coughed and staggered back a step, tasting a bitterness in my mouth. It was a few moments before I could clear my eyes and look up, and when I did, the lay of the land was different than it had been. Instead of steep, rising dunes, it was a flat plain of barren red and brown, cracked and crazed in unearthly patterns by the pounding of the sun. Weathered red mesas rose in the distance … [Read more...]

Return to the Desert

The sun beat down, hot and harsh, from a lead-colored sky. I stood at the end of a dusty, winding trail. Behind me lay gray marsh and scrubland, grassy plains, forest and woodland, and finally the rivers and gardens of my home. But before me was a harsh, arid land, parched and withered and hostile, bleak and savage and yet inhabited: my destination. The desert.In front of me rose an arch of crumbling red stone, pitted and scoured by wind and blowing sand, the words once engraved deeply into … [Read more...]

Movie Review: Creation

Last night I had a chance to see Creation, the independent film by British director Jon Amiel that presents an account of the life of Charles Darwin and his struggle to write his great work, On the Origin of Species, while mourning the death of his beloved daughter Annie. The movie is based on Annie's Box, the biography of Darwin written by his great-great-grandson, Randal Keynes.The movie opens promisingly, with Darwin's eldest daughter Annie asking him to tell her a story. He obliges her … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Quantum Mechanic


Summary: A compelling atheist thought experiment, wrapped inside a cleverly plotted and fast-paced tale of transhumanist fiction.This isn't the first time I've reviewed a book written by a fellow blogger, but it's always a pleasure for me to do, and this one was particularly pleasurable to read. The Quantum Mechanic is a novel written by the blogger D - you may know her as the author of She Who Chatters - for 2009's National Novel Writing Month.The hero of TQM is Douglas Orange, … [Read more...]

Book Review: 36 Arguments for the Existence of God

(Author's Note: The following review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Summary: Sparkling writing; marvelous characters; could have benefited from a tighter narrative.This is the first time I've ever reviewed a work of fiction for Daylight Atheism, but this one was well in tune with my site's mission and merited the exception: Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's 36 Arguments for the Existence of God. Despite the title, it's a novel, not an … [Read more...]

In Honor of Terry Pratchett

I should have mentioned this story much earlier, but better late than never.If you're an atheist and a regular reader of sci-fi and fantasy, you probably know the name Terry Pratchett - and if you don't, you should. He's the award-winning and much-loved author of Discworld, a series of fantasy novels set in a flat, circular world that's carried through space on the back of a giant tortoise. Discworld began as a straight-up parody of other fantasy novels, but it's moved on to parodying all … [Read more...]

Ambassadors for Atheism

In the world of Philip Pullman's fantasy series His Dark Materials, each human being is accompanied everywhere by their daemon, an intelligent animal-shaped spirit that is the outward manifestation of their soul. When Pullman's heroine, Lyra, meets a boy who's been severed from his daemon by a cruel experiment, her reaction is one of disgust and horror:Her first impulse was to turn and run, or to be sick. A human being with no daemon was like someone without a face, or with their ribs laid … [Read more...]

The Tempter Returns

I awoke from my sleep with a start.It had been a long and wearisome day. I had turned in early, as the late autumn light waned from the sky, and it was now dark and deep outside my window. But now something had roused me, and I had the distinct feeling that I was not alone.I went from room to room, searching for intruders. At first glance, my home seemed silent and empty. The Observatory was silent, its holographic displays a pale flickering in the darkness. The screens in the Rotunda were … [Read more...]