Berserker Q3 - Faith

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"But still men's eyes see more than lenses do."

Some of the stories, especially those which focus on Johann Karlsen, deal with faith. Did you feel this aspect was explored successfully? How do these chapters (The Stone Place and The Face of the Deep) contrast with the cult developments we see in In The Temple of Mars?

Comments

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    It was quite refreshing to have centrally important characters who had faith which was considered and recognised doubt and difficulty rather than being blind fanaticism. Karlsen in particular exhibits this, and the dimension of the final story Face of the Deep which tackled his struggles between authentic faith and superstitious awe was one of the reasons I liked this one so much.

    Now, that said I found the treatment of "bad guys" rather more problematic. Apparently it wasn't enough that they were into galactic domination or some such, but they also had to be into sadistic sex, or indeed simple sadism - as though in Fred Saberhagen's mind one kind of evil inevitably led to all kinds of evil. I wasn't convinced by this presentation (nor the premise behind it) so found is treatment of bad guys to be weak and simplistic compared to his treatment of good guys

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    I think I missed Karlsen's faith, and only noticed it when I looked back to answer this question. That indicates that exploration of faith wasn't successful for me. On a quick skim through, is Karlsen's faith any different from standard 1960s middle-class white american christianity?

    The cult in Temple of Mars was interesting, and entirely believable that there would be people worshipping these terrible and powerful machines.

    The treatment of Nogara was one-dimensional. It would have been more interesting if he'd had some redeeming, or even useful, features beyond megalomania and sadism.

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    It seemed like a missed opportunity to me. I saw the influence of Dune to be honest - I think pulp authors and publishers were starting to realise that there was efficient money to be made in serialisations turning into novels (low costs at the beginning, then build on what people like). Not special to SF - didn't Dickens do the same? OTOH LOTR was not made like this.

    Anyway, the missed opportunity is that I didn't see the story contributing much to the reader thinking about these things.

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    edited October 31

    I don't think Karlsen's faith is explicitly mentioned, but he does seem to express Christian values. In The Stone Place, he pacifies the rebels in the crew by turning the other cheek and forgiving, and this is brought up again elsewhere. Nogara was presented in opposition to this, basically an immoral hedonist. Karlsen's faith is presented as the reason for his success in The Stone Place, and later it results in his salvation. All of this could definitely be given more room, in a different format. Maybe it's explored further in one of the later novels?

    Oh, and Wikidepia tells us Saberhagen was a practicing Catholic.

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    Talking of Karlsen and faith, what (if anything) did people make of the prophecy about him? It felt to me like something that Saberhagen couldn't quite decide how to handle. So the Stone Place battle was obviously the high point, but what then?

    Apparently he was marginalised by the Wicked Brother, but then reappears frozen. But then gets reawakened. And then sacrifices himself to save others and dives off into a black hole. But then he manages to get himself into an orbit that saves him. And gets found and (presumably) taken back "upstairs" to normal space.

    So the prophecy keeps getting apparently fulfilled but then circumvented by one means or another. Is there a story where he finally really does meet his end? Or do we end up simply discrediting the prophecy in the first place?
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    It was a bit of of an odd thing, maybe something to make the Carmpans seem mysterious. I think the characters only speculated it was a prophecy, which probably means it was. Anyway, it’s probably safe to assume he’ll die eventually :-)
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    @Apocryphal said:
    I don't think Karlsen's faith is explicitly mentioned, but he does seem to express Christian values. In The Stone Place, he pacifies the rebels in the crew by turning the other cheek and forgiving, and this is brought up again elsewhere. Nogara was presented in opposition to this, basically an immoral hedonist. Karlsen's faith is presented as the reason for his success in The Stone Place, and later it results in his salvation. All of this could definitely be given more room, in a different format. Maybe it's explored further in one of the later novels?

    Oh, and Wikidepia tells us Saberhagen was a practicing Catholic.

    In the final story, Karlsen has journeyed to an inhospitable environment, stay there for some indeterminate length of time (at least forty days and nights) while resisting temptation and rejecting lies, and eventually returns with a greater appreciation for the wonder of creation.

    Or is it more accurate to say the saviour of mankind is sent to death by an evil government official, dies in a public way, and returns some time later after an epiphany?

    Karlsen is Jesus? Nogara is Pilate?

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    Karlson's faith is indeed mentioned in narrative - in the Stone Place story. I thought he was far too Christ-like. Nogara was a boring simplistic EVIL man - evil in one way, evil in all ways. I didn't believe either was real, and I am a man of considerable faith. Part of my problem with that series of stories.

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