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

TQMCover

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...]

Movie Review: The Golden Compass

Last night I saw The Golden Compass, the movie adaptation of the first book in Philip Pullman's acclaimed fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials. The movie, like the book, is set in a fantastic and richly imagined parallel universe, similar to our own world but different in many important ways. In Pullman's steampunk world, human beings' souls live outside their bodies, in the form of talking animal familiars called daemons; the icy north is ruled by fearsome armored bears and clans of flying … [Read more...]

The Desert V

(Author's Note: "The Desert" is a work of short fiction in several parts. If you haven't already done so, now would be a good time to go back and read the previous chapters so that you know what's going on.)V: EpilogueIt seemed like ages ago that I had set out from my home, and the beautiful Garden that surrounded it, on a journey that brought me deep into the harsh wilds of the desert. In that barren, desolate land, I had encountered several of the lost souls who dwelt there. Most had … [Read more...]

The Desert IV

(Author's Note: "The Desert" is a work of short fiction in several parts. If you haven't already done so, now would be a good time to go back and read the previous chapters so that you know what's going on.)IV: The VisionaryThe faint path I had been following through the desert had long since petered out, and for several hours I had been making my own way across the sands. The fallen stone blocks of the ruined city lay well behind me, no longer in sight.The sun had now sunk almost entirely … [Read more...]


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