Up until now, I’ve not been the sort of atheist to buy books on atheism. Haven’t read a single one, in fact. Not Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian. Nothing by Hitch. Nothing by Dawkins. Don’t even spend much time on atheist blogs, unless they’ve got something else going on and the atheism’s just incidental. I just didn’t feel a need. I don’t believe in God, gods, goddesses, demons, spirits, fairys, the Divine, or anything else. Don’t need validation for that, it’s just who I am. Don’t need a philosophy to fill any empty holes in my life – friends, science and Zen do the trick nicely. Why the fuck should I need a book on atheism?
I think I’m buying them now as a protest against what’s happened to my beloved Sci-Fi section.
Garrett and I went to Barnes and Noble in the U-District. I wandered over to the Religion section to see if I could get a chuckle – I wouldn’t have been surprised if some stupid fucker in the corporate office had decided that atheism belonged next to Judaica and Christianity. They’ve bunged the atheist tomes in with philosophy, alas, where it almost makes sense. They didn’t have The God Delusion anywhere I could see, but Hitch’s bright yellow (why, WHY yellow?) covers were bulging from the shelves, and there were several others whose names escape me at the moment. I had my quiet chuckle – we’re growing in volume and quantity, take that, religion junkies! – and headed up the escalator to Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Crap, crap, pure crap, and more crap, with a few shimmering diamonds thrown in.
Science fiction is a misnomer for that section. It should be “vampire bullshit, paranormal detective bullshit, and really vapid fantasy bullshit.” What the fuck has happened? It used to be you’d go there and see maybe a few silly books written by utter fucking wankers. Now, they’re everywhere. They’ve grown like kudzu.
And don’t even talk to me about the bargain book section. It’s overflowing with woo. Fortune telling, new age crap, fluffy bunny spirituality crap, and more crap.
If this truly reflects the tastes of the current reading public, then I understand why that public elected Bush not once but twice. (We won’t get into semantic arguments over stolen elections. If the margins had been big enough, Republicons wouldn’t have been able to steal a peanut, much less foist Monkey Boy on us for eight years of assclownery).
I snatched up a couple of Neal Stephenson novels and fled into the loving arms of Hitch’s the Portable Atheist. And I found Dawkins’s The Ancestor’s Tale behind the counter, along with a Pharyngula fan.
When my finances have recovered from this best-friend-visiting extravaganza, I’m going to have an orgy on Amazon. The God Delusion. That one that Neil Gaiman contributed to. Russell. More Hitch. All of the science books PZ mentioned in his talk. Louis Black’s new one whose name also escapes me at the moment. Look, I’ll have the titles for you once I order.
I’m going to fill my house with godless goodness. I shall fondly recall the days when fantasy and science fiction shelves were chock full of actual fantasy (as in the brilliantly-written, epic, magic totally rational in that milleu type of fantasy) and science fiction (science fiction that included science, not just a rocket or an android or other gimmick). Eventually, I’ll comb Amazon for SF authors who really know their shit and who wouldn’t touch a vampire with a ten foot garlic-encrusted stake. And then I’m going to finish writing this damned novel, the one that doesn’t have magic per se, and doesn’t have a single fucking paranormal investigator who’s also a vampire who’s investigating the murder of a fucking fairy. It’s going to be unique, which means it probably won’t have a legless, senile octagenarian’s chance in a triathlon of getting published – but I’m sure as fuck gonna try.
And if you ever see a single fucking vampire trying to creep into my books, I want you to take me out back and shoot me with a grenade launcher. Ditto for paranormal investigators looking into the death of another fucking fairy. Or any of the other fluff that’s currently standing in for the genuine article.
I’m going to read every single fucking worthwhile book on atheism, just so I can marshall the philosophical arguments of far greater thinkers than I the next time some stupid fucker tells me atheists are nihilists. But the most devastating blow will come when I extract the information that they’re the tasteless fuckers who’re lapping up regurgitated dead-fairy murder mystery with vampire investigator thrown in bullshit that’s infesting my genre, and ask them what fucking philosophical need that can possibly fulfill in a person’s life.
And as for those who buy those ridiculous fortune telling books, I’ll just have one question: why didn’t their predictive powers warn them they were about to get beaten over the head by an angry atheist wielding a bright yellow copy of the Portable Atheist?
Anything to make the woo go away.