Welcome to Lord Snow Presides, our off-topic chat series!
“Sandkings” is our off-topic topic today (though naturally, it being off-topic, feel free to chat about anything that’s on your mind). It’s a 1979 novelette by none other than George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame.
I honestly don’t remember when I first read this story. It must have been a very long time ago. I might or might not have been Christian at the time. Whenever it was, it had an impact on me. Years later, all it took was the briefest mention of the story in comments to bring the general shape of the story flooding back to me. A bunch of other folks got interested in the story, and well, here we are to talk about it!
The religious themes in the story are unmistakeable (though to one reviewer, the colonial themes seem stronger; I can see where he gets that idea–it’s definitely got a lot of those overtones, and it’s not like we haven’t talked extensively about the colonial impulses of Christianity). The anti-hero, Kress, is not a good man at all; the author goes out of his way to make him as unsympathetic as possible. When he gets some sentient bug-like creatures called sandkings under his control, he treats them horribly and makes them into his own image–literally. And then his handiwork turns on him in the worst possible way. I’m sure it’s got people wondering, as I do, what the sandkings would be like with a less malevolent master, one less violent, one less bent on destruction.
For that matter, what would Christianity itself be like if its god were genuinely benevolent? I’ve talked before about where it’d be without threats, and I doubt it’d have gotten very far without savagery, extremism, and cruelty. No supernatural force at all is required to get a religion going when it’s got those very earthly forces.
What’d y’all think of it?