Alternate Worlds Book Group

We read about characters faced with urgent questions of theology and ethics in the context of alternate worlds: other planets, other galaxies, and other/future timelines on Earth. These stories draw on, and sometimes question, Earth religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, and Taoism.

Everyone is welcome!

Zoom Link

Join us at this link! See times posted for each meeting.

Upcoming Readings & Meetings

February, Date to be determined

Dune [novel] by Frank Herbert
Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

We’re so open to ideas for future selections. There are a lot of worlds out there!

Past Readings

March 2, 2021, 7:30-8:45
We’ll discuss two science fiction stories (and a short TV adaptation of one) that address the nature of God from the perspectives of Catholicism and Buddhism. They are available online at no charge at these links:

“The Nine Billion Names of God” [short story] by Arthur C. Clarke

“The Star” [short story] by Arthur C. Clarke.

The Twilight Zone episode “Star” [14 min, filmed low-budget in 1985]

April 6, 2021, 7:30-8:45
The Sparrow [novel] by Maria Doria Russell–first half

May 4, 2021, 7:30-8:45
The Sparrow [novel] by Maria Doria Russell–second half
Seattle Librarian Nancy Pearl calls this “a philosophical novel about the nature of good and evil and what happens when a man tries to do the right thing, for the right reasons and ends up causing incalculable harm”.

June 1, 2021, 7:30-8:45
The Lathe of Heaven [novel] by Ursula LeGuin

The struggle of two protagonists, one representing positivist desire to control destiny, the other a Taoist equanimity, shuffle 1970s Portland through a series of alternate realities.

July 6, 2021, 7:30-8:45

Wild Seed [novel] by Octavia Butler

A re-creation story inspired by Igbo culture and life in 1970s Los Angeles and the earliest book in the chronology of the Butler’s Patternist world.

August 3 & September 14, 2021, 7:30-8:45
The Parable of the Sower [novel] by Octavia Butler

October 12, 2021, 7:30-8:45
Good Omens [novel] by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Good Omens has also been adapted in a mini-series, available on Amazon Prime and from the Seattle Public Library.

November 9, 2021, 7:30-8:45
The Parable of the Talents [novel] by Octavia Butler, sequel to The Parable of the Sower