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

April, Date to be determined

A Canticle for Leibowitz [novel] by Walter M. Miller Jr.
Considered a sci-fi and mainsteam classic, this book, first published in 1959, is set in a Catholic monastery in the desert of the southwestern United States where the monks of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz preserve the surviving remnants of man’s scientific knowledge after a devastating nuclear war. Carl Sagan once described “A Canticle for Leibowitz” as among stories “that are so tautly constructed, so rich in the accommodating details of an unfamiliar society that they sweep me along before I have even a chance to be critical”.

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

February 7, 2022, 7:30-8:45
Dune [novel] by Frank Herbert