Thursday, June 19, 2014

"Curelom Riders" Discussion

On Day Four, the Lit Blitz takes a majestic dive into the unknown...

Today's piece: "Curelom Riders" by Annaliese Lemmon

No piece of writing starts from scratch: writing necessarily builds off things readers already know. One advantage writers of Mormon Lit have is that their audience has a lot of specialized pre-existing knowledge that can be drawn on.

In her short piece, Annaliese Lemmon draws not only on this specialized Mormon knowledge in her use of the book of Ether, but also on a broad cultural awareness of the tropes of epic fantasy. The success of the alternative history/ epic fantasy Temeraire books, which Lemmon has cited as an inspiration for this piece, shows that many readers today are happy to let writers draw on traditionally distinct genres simultaneously. Does anything change, though, when one of those genres is scripture?

What do you think of the cross-genre work this piece does with the Book of Mormon?

What other interesting experiments with cross-genre work involving scripture have you seen? What might be the next cool experiment for a Mormon writer?


  1. Orson Scott Card has done a lot of this with both scripture and Church history, in both science fiction and fantasy. He even wrote an essay addressing members who felt he was being sacrilegious or plagiarizing. In my mind, using scripture as a basis for fantasy shows a lot of trust in the actual truth of the source material. If scripture wasn't historically convincing, it couldn't impart a sense of reality to any story based on it. You can't plagiarize history!

  2. My turn-off with Card's Homecoming series is that it reduced God to being a machine, and that didn't sit well with me. My thinking is that as long as the fantastical elements don't get in the way of the doctrine, that reimagining scripture this way is fun!

  3. I think one thing that works particularly well in this piece is that we know we don't know what cureloms are. It's not just a telling of a Book of Mormon story in a different style (like in Card's series or the recent comic book with the characters as animals): the curelom reference provides this interesting bridge to the new genre instead.

    It actually reminds me of an unpublished Darci Rhoades Stone story that uses a real-world unexplained epidemic from the early twentieth century as a launching point for a near-future science fiction piece.

    Using real-world mysteries in fiction is intriguing to me.

  4. David West, Heroes of the Fallen. Epic S&S meets BoM. Or vice versa.

    I enjoyed the full Homecoming Saga and what I've managed to get of The Tales of Alvin Maker. In my twenties, The Folk of the Fringe made me cringe a bit, but I still enjoyed it. It was mind-opening.

    From an intellectual perspective, mash-ups can let us critically examine doctrines, policies and practices without being in anybody's face about it. If the ideas trickle down (or up), it can get decision-makers thinking in ways they weren't trained to and that can lead to seeking revelation on stances they previously considered immutable.

  5. The thing that stood out to me the most was the body count. It looked to me like 8 people died during the course of the attack. On the one hand, this sticks pretty closely to the Book of Mormon, which has no problems with killing bad guys. On the other hand, it seems very violent for contemporary Mormon fiction. An interesting tension.

    i could totally see the cover for this story and it was awesome. Good old-fashioned pulp fantasy is a balm to the soul.

    I'm very pleased that cureloms fly. Way to break out of the elephant/mammoth mold!

  6. Imaginative and exciting. I love the character of Esher and the magnificence of the cureloms. Omer is so concerned about his father that he doesn't notice how he is growing as a leader.



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