Review of “Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse,” edited by John Joseph Adams

The thing about Wastelands is that it is very uneven. Perhaps it is because the post-apocalyptic genre is so wide, or so bare, but for every great story there are three or four or five which is a chore to read. Joe Sherry and Slippard do a great job breaking down the stories individual without spoiling anything, so instead I will focus just on the tales that make this volume worth it.

  • “The End of the Whole Mess,” by Stephen King. King is a great writer, always fun and easy to read.
  • “The People of Sand and Slag,” by Paolo Bacigalupi. Perhaps the most disturbing book in the collection, as Bacigalupi seems to understand where genetic engineering is going.
  • “Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels,” by George R.R. Martin. A Cold War parable. Anyone who loved golden age Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke will feel at home here.
  • “Judgment Passed,” by Jerry Olten. An odd story as it deals with the rapture from the point of view of atheist astronauts who were out of the solar system at the time.
  • “Mute,” by Gene Wolf. You need to read this. Mute, alone, makes buying this book worth it, even if you just buy the Kindle edition and read it on your computer. Mute is only ten pages, but that includes a short intro in which Neil Gaiman gives the following advice:(1) Trust the text implicitly. THe answers are in there.
    (2) Do not trust the text farther than you can throw it, if that far. It’s tricksy and desperate stuff, and it may go off in your hand at any time.
    (3) Reread. It’s better the second time.

    Actually, it’s more confusing the second time. The third time I really paid attention to why the protagonist could be thinking her thoughts. And I drew a map.

    (Mute tends to have negative reviews in summaries. If you only read it once it’s disturbing, but you completely miss what is happening.)

  • “The End of the World As We Know It,” by Dale Bailey. The end of the world is not the most important thing to happen to the protagonist, to a local consequence of it is. A wonderful story of grieving.
  • “A Song Before Sunset,” by David Grigg. Reads like an episode of The Twilight Zone, in the best sense.

If the same book for the same price was just these stories, it would have been a great deal, well worth the $10.85 paperback price. Don’t feel obligated to read the rest.

Christianity is Older than Judaism

Christianity is Older than Judaism

This meme has been making the rounds again, that Americans are ignorant yokels for thinking that Christianity is older than Judaism. But as is often the case with debunkeres, the debunkers are more arrogant and just as unknowledgable as the debunkee, as a great argument can be made that Christianity is, in fact, older than Judaism.

Both Christianity and Judaism are based largely on religio-legal corpora, which are called “Testaments” in Christianity and “Torahs” in Judaism. In Christnaity these corpora are the “Old Testament” and the “New Testament.” Both in their ages of composition and their internal chronology, they are seperated by the Roman occupation of Palestine — the Old takes place beforfe, the New takes place during. In Judaism these corpora are the “Written Torah” and the “Oral Torah.” While both works claim to be the same age (given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai), the Oral Torah clearly contains elements from Semetic pre-history while others date it to between the Destruction of the Temple and the middle-Dark Ages.

In other words, Christianity as a religion based on Two Testaments appears to have coalescened somewhere around AD 100. Judaism as a religion based on Two Torahs appears to have coalescend somewhere around AD 600. Christianity is half a millenium older than Judaism.

Both Christianity and Judaism are descended from an ancient religion, often called “Temple Judaism,” like early Christianity (but not like Judaism) was centered around a priesthood that controlled the teaching authority of the faith.

It is often said that most Jewish communities that existed immediately before the chrnologicla beginning of the New Testament became Christian communities. A very small number converted to Judaism instead, several centuries later.